GitLab says it will slurp more data from customers – but not Free users

Gitlab Logo
Gitlab Logo

GitLab is ramping up the amount of data it collects on how customers are using its products, leaving it walking a fine line between improving its product and alienating users.

The move was disclosed in a blogpost yesterday from vp of product Scott Williamson titled “Update on free software and telemetry”. 

On the telemetry front, he wrote, “To make GitLab better faster, we need more data on how users are using GitLab. SaaS telemetry products, which provide analytics on user behavior inside web-based applications, have come a long way in the past few years.

“GitLab has a lot of features, and a lot of users, and it is time that we use telemetry to get the data we need for our product managers to improve the experience.”

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Williamson said the firm would do this via “additional JavaScript snippets (both open source and proprietary) that will interact with both GitLab and possibly third-party SaaS telemetry services (we will be using Pendo).”

He pledged that all data usage would be disclosed in its privacy policy, and that “any third-party telemetry service we use will have data protection standards at least as strong as GitLab, and will aim for SOC2 compliance.”

At the same time, he said “to service the needs of GitLab.com and GitLab Self-Managed users who do not want to be tracked, both GitLab.com and GitLab Self-Managed will honor the Do Not Track (DNT) mechanism in web browsers.”

Of course, this means “users may also not get the benefit of in-app messaging or guides that some third-party telemetry tools have that would require the JavaScript snippet.”

And as for that mention of “free software”? He said the GitLab Core line will “continue to be free software with no changes” and will continue under the MIT License. “Nothing is changing with Core,” he repeated, which we take to mean the telemetry effort will not extend to Core.

Measurement and analytics certainly seems to be on GitLab’s mind at the moment. Outlining future product plans at its London get together this week, director of product development Eric Brinkman said it was ramping up its monitoring features, and wanted to be “a complete replacement for Datadog.”

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