Today, I was just looking at something and stumbled a nifty tool call W.A.S.P. Its a plugin for Firefox and stands for Web Analytics Solution Profiler. Freely downloadable from http://wasp.immeria.net, this tool can give you the metrics being collected from your site - and the actual analytics tool being used on that site.
For someone using tools like Google Analytics (GA) this is a big boon. This is because tools like GA did not have any type of debugger. So, if you implemented a solution, you had to wait until the next day to see if whatever you did was right. Unlike Omniture, there was not 'debugger' tool where you could instantaneously see what you was the information being collected and passed for the report generation. With W.A.S.P. all this could change...
Intaling the tool is just like any other plugin install on Firefox. Just go to the website http://wasp.immeria.net and choose the tool. It gets installed as a plugin on your browser and simply restart the browser to get the tool working.
Once the tool is installed and active (which it is by default), it automatically starts collecting information about the websites you visit. So if you open a page which has analytics code on it, it automatically displays a notice at the bottom. For example, in the screen shown, the site is using Google Analytics. If you want to examine the details, double clicking on it will open the plugin with the details of the site (shown as the left panel in the screen).
The left panel that opens up will display all the parameters being passed to the analytics tool. This itself would be of tremendous help in debugging the implementations. What is still better is the way the variables have been explained in simple language. To use this, just choose some variable and it will display the name of the variable, the value and a short explanation about what information this variable is collecting. For example, in the screen attached, it shows that the variable 'utmdt' is collecting the value from 'Document.Title'. This I feel would help immensely for beginners. You don't have to refer too many documents. All you need to do would be implement analytics code, use the tool and start tweaking the solution.
The tool is nifty to use, easy to understand and install - and light. It can help in getting quick result in detecting what values you are capturing and verifying if it is correct. Of course, the caveat applies that you are using a tagging based solution. If you are using a log analyzer, the issues of debugging still remain. For a tag based solution, this is a great tool for both development teams and analytic consultants.