Intro to Events
What is an Event?
Events are the basic building blocks of reports. An event is any action associated with a user. Examples of events you can define in Heap include “Create Account,” “Login,” “Received Transactional Email,” or “Follow A Friend”.
In most other analytics tools, you need to write custom code to track events. However, Heap tracks everything automatically, which means defining events is a lot easier. It also means that every event definition is completely retroactive since Heap has been recording everything from day one.
The best thing about events in Heap is that no matter how you define your event, all of the correct data will be there. This means if you modify an event definition, define an event incorrectly, or want to add to your event, all the data is still readily accessible.
How Many Events Should I Define?
To get started analyzing your data, you only need to define a handful of events that will help you answer specific questions. There is no need to define your entire tracking plan upfront! When new questions come up, you can always define new events. All the data will still be there, even as you add definition further down the road.
Common first reports include:
- Graph: Checkouts per day
- Users View: Active customers (create a segment based on session activity)
- Funnel: Conversion Flow (Sign up, checkout, etc.)
- Retention: Use a key engagement metric (place order, add friend, comment, etc.)
Personal and Shared Events
In Heap, you can define personal and shared events. Personal events are ones that only appear in your Heap dashboard, and by default, are always added to your ‘Personal’ category. You can publish personal events to your shared space at any time.
Shared events can be accessed by your entire team. To stay organized, we recommend naming and organizing all shared events in a way that is helpful for your team, as detailed below.
Event Naming Conventions
Before you get into defining events, it’s essential that you plan a consistent naming convention for your events and categories to help your team understand them.
You can use our Naming Conventions feature to establish and enforce a consistent naming convention for new events. This convention works as a template with pre-selected drop-down items for setting up the event name.
You can also establish a naming convention without using this feature by informing your team members of how events should be named.
Some best practices for naming and organizing events include:
Organize your events into categories, which are essentially folders for events. A category can be a product, feature, or page. We recommend using categories to organize actions your users take in different areas of your product.
Use a standard naming pattern for defining events, such as the Location – Action – Object pattern in the GIF above.
Choose a standard tense (either past or present) for your event names. For example, if you use the present tense, you’ll want to name your event ‘Start Checkout’ instead of ‘Started Checkout’ (past tense).
Add a note to the event to provide context about why it was created and what it’s for. This is also helpful for describing differences between similar events, adding context for when an event is updated, noting if there is an exception that is not accounted for in this event, and more.
To add a note, navigate to Define > Events, click on the event to open up the event details, then click ‘Add Note’. You can add multiple notes to the same event, and edit existing notes.
In addition to planning your event naming convention, we recommend that you also plan a consistent (and similar) naming convention for your reports to provide a better context around the content of the report. The categorization of these reports highly depends on your organizational workflow, though we recommend including a product component or team name as a preface. Examples of reports with this naming convention:
- Marketing – Demo Request Conversion
- Dashboard – Weekly Active Users
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions on how to best apply these conventions to your organization.
Defining Events in the Event Visualizer (recommended)
The Event Visualizer is Heap’s simple point-and-click interface for defining events. Instead of manually logging events within code, you can define events by simply clicking around your website or app. No coding knowledge is required, though it is useful for refining your event definitions further.
For more info, jump to our Event Visualizer guide and select your platform at the top.
Defining Events in the Events Tab
We provide the Visualizer as an easy way to define events without using code. However, if you are familiar with your site’s markup, you can manually create events via base event definitions. To do so, complete the steps below.
- Navigate to Definitions > Events, then click the New Definition button and select New Event in the drop-down.
2. Add a category and name to your event. For our example, we are manually defining a click on the checkout button as it appears on the product page.
If you are creating a personal event, click on the Publish To Shared Space toggle to turn it off. You’ll see the category switch to Personal.
3. Select a Source. The options listed might include the following based on which platforms you have Heap installed on and integrated with.
- Web: An event that happens on your website.
- iOS/Android: An event that happens in your mobile app.
- Integration (ex. Shopify, Salesforce): An event from an integration you have connected Heap with.
- Custom: Select this option if you are setting an event based on data pulled in via one of Heap’s APIs. See Using Custom Events to Build New Events below to learn more.
- Combo: Select this option to combine multiple existing events into one. See Combo Events below to learn more.
Depending on the type of source you’ve selected, you may need to select a base event that you will build the event definition on, then the custom criteria for that event. See the platform-specific sections below for more details:
For our example, we will define this as a web event with the base event Click on, using the CSS selector for a click on the checkout button as the definition for that event.
5. Click Define Event & Request Confirmation to create your new event.
Once submitted for verification, an event definition cannot be edited. However, you can always cancel the submission, edit the event further, and resubmit as needed. For more info on how the verification process works, see Definition Verification.
There are 5 types of base events we capture in Heap out-of-the-box that you can use to manually define new events:
View page: A pageview (MDN reference)
Click on: A click on an element (MDN reference)
Change on: A change in an
selectelement (MDN Reference)
Submit on: A form submission (MDN Reference)
Start Session: A session
We provide a list of recommended pageview events to define based on the popularity of those pages. Defining these pageviews as events allows you to dig into engagement with those pages to better understand user behavior. For more info, see Pageview Suggestions.
To better understand what modifiers to apply to these events, we’ll walkthrough how common CSS elements should be written in Heap event definitions.
Tags, Classes, and Ids
Tag refers to the tag name (e.g.
<input> ). In line with standard CSS practices, in Heap, this is written as
A class name comes after the attribute
class=. Classes are prepended by a period, for example
An id comes after the attribute
id=. IDs are prepended by a hash, as in
An attribute is the part of the markup that is not an
class, such as
name. Attributes are contained in square brackets, as in
[placeholder="Email Address"]. Quotes are only required if the attribute contains a space.
In this example, you would define:
<form accept-charset="UTF-8" action="/login" class="login signupform" id="new_user" method="post"> <label>Email</label> <input autofocus="autofocus" class="email" id="user_email" name="email" placeholder="Email Address" tabindex="1" type="email"> <label>Password</label> <input class="field with-reset" id="user_password" name="user[password]" placeholder="Password" tabindex="2" type="password" /> <input class="button b-big" name="commit" tabindex="3" type="submit" value="Sign In" /> </form>
- A pageview as
View page: /signup.
- A click into the email field as
Click on: .emailor
Click on: [placeholder="Email Address"]which uses the attribute instead of the class.
- A change in the password field as
Change on: #user_password.
- A form submission as
Submit on: #new_user.
You can combine tags, classes, and IDs in the same element by stringing them together. For example,
Change on: input#user_email.email.
To combine selectors in a hierarchy, add a space between the tags, classes, and IDs. For example, let’s say you have more than one email form on a page: one to sign up, another to subscribe to a newsletter, and both email fields are defined the same way. You can use the
form ID to specify which form to target;
Change on: form#new_user #user_email which will limit the event to just the new user sign up form; and
Change on: form#newsletter #user_email, which would limit the event to the newsletter form.
To use attributes in an event definition (here defined as attributes other than classes or IDs, and which includes things like
type, and anything that starts with
data-*), simply surround the attributes’ key and value elements with brackets. For example,
name="email" from the sample markdown above becomes
[name=email] within Heap’s event creator.
You can also use simplified attribute selectors to match data attributes:
[key]Targets elements with a key attribute
[key=value]Target elements with a key attribute that’s value.
[key*=value]Targets elements with a key attribute containing a value within it.
[key^=value]Targets elements with a key attribute starting with value.
[key$=value]Targets elements with a key attribute ending with value.
Please note, we do not capture the following attributes:
iOS, Android, React Native
We provide the option to manually create mobile and React Native event definitions from the events page. However, we strongly recommend defining new mobile and React Native events via the Event Visualizer or the Live View. These allow you to verify the accuracy of the definition by testing it via a device or emulator.
When defining iOS, Android, and React Native events, you’ll use autocaptured events and properties as a base, then apply filters to define your new event.
For example, we have a base ‘touch on’ event:
Which you can use to define a touch element and apply a filter to specify the criteria for this event definition:
Base Events & Properties for Defining Mobile Events
Out-of-the-box, Heap provides the following mobile events which you can use as a base, listed on the left. Each is defined based on the base property in the middle column. Key properties that are often used to define a new event based on this one are listed on the right.
|Event||Base property||Key properties|
|View Screen||Full Activity||n/a|
|Fragment Transitions||Added Fragments||Activity, Full Activity, Visible Fragments|
|Page Transition||Transitioned-to Page Title||Transitioned-to Page Class, Transitioned-from Page Title and Class, View Pager Swiped, Target Resource ID|
|Touch On||Hierarchy||Target Text, Target Class, Full Target Resource ID|
|Edit Field||Hierarchy||Target Text, Target Class, Full Target Resource ID|
|App install/Upgrade||Current Version Name||Is Upgrade|
|Event||Base property||Key properties|
|View Screen||View Controller||Title, Accessibility Identifier, Accessibility Label|
|Touch On||Hierarchy||Target Text, Target View Class, Target View Name, Accessibility Identifier, Accessibility Label|
|Action Methods||Action Method||Target Text, Target View Class, Target View Name|
|Edit Field||Hierarchy||Target View Class, Accessibility Identifier, Accessibility Label|
|Gesture Recognizers (any event related to gestures, such as panning, zooming, etc.)||Target View Ivar||n/a|
|App Install/Upgrade||Current Version Name||Is Upgrade|
|Event||Base property||Key properties|
|View Screen||Screen path||Navigation Action, Screen Name|
|Touch On||React hierarchy selector||Target Text, Is Long Press|
|Change On||React hierarchy selector||n/a|
|Edit Field||React hierarchy selector||Placeholder Text|
|Page Transition||React hierarchy selector||Page Index|
Generally, it’s important to ensure that the event is defined by a set of properties that specifically refer to that particular interaction. When defining mobile events, consider the following:
- Can this event be specifically defined based on the default property it relies on?
- Do the property values have semantic meaning (e.g. “RegistrationFormScreen”) or are they generic (e.g. “FormScreen”)?
- Are certain key property values being reused throughout the app?
Currently, Heap cannot be used to capture the following types of events.
- Push notifications: As a workaround, you can send custom server-side events as push events. However, since these will not be sessionized, and interactions with these push events will be part of a client-side session, using this workaround will inflate your session count and you will not be able to conduct session-based analysis.
- App crashes: Heap is not intended to be used as a replacement for Crash analytics solutions. A workaround is to catch otherwise-uncaught exceptions to send as a custom event to Heap.
- Uninstall events
Additionally, we do not provide a way to tell if an event was captured while the app was offline.
We recommend reviewing the Best Practices sections of the iOS and Android Event Visualizer guides, as most of these also apply to defining mobile events via the events page.
React & Angular Apps
Using a Single Page App framework like React or Angular? Be sure to write distinct classes or IDs or make use of data-attributes so you can accurately define events based on those selectors.
* character is fully supported in all types of events in Heap. You can use the wildcard character as a placeholder for any and all values in an event definition.
For example, if you have a unique ID in your URL (like a product ID) you can use the wildcard character in the event definition to capture all URLs containing that unique ID.
If the order page URL is:
Then the corresponding event definition would use
*/orders/* to capture the two unique IDs.
Reviewing & Updating Event Details
Once you’ve defined an event, you can review it by navigating to Define > Events, searching for the event, and clicking on it in the list that appears.
On the Event details page, you can see the following:
- Number of occurrences over the past week
- Number of reports that include this event
- The event history (how it was created, and when it was created, verified, and last edited)
- A ‘More Analysis’ drop-down, which opens up a set of analysis options
- Any notes added to the event
Further down, you’ll see an analysis preview section (more info on this Check Analysis Preview), and a section listing all of the Heap Connect destinations this event is currently synced to.
You can edit the event definition in the ‘Event Criteria’ section further down the page, and review the full event history at the bottom.
To categorize events into categories, simply click the ‘Uncategorized’ text when creating or editing the event, then enter the category name. You can also create new categories in this area.
To categorize several events at once, select the checkmark next to them where they are listed on the Events page, then click Move at the top.
A pop-up will appear where you can select an existing category or create a new one by simply typing the new category name.
Exporting Event Data
You can also export event data to a CSV to analyze outside of Heap. To do so, select the checkmark next to them where they are listed on the Events page, then click Export Metadata.
You’ll be prompted to select which types of metadata you want to export. Make your selections, then click Export Events to download the file.
If you have two separate events you’d like to be able to view as one event, such as a ‘Free Trial’ event and a ‘Sign Up’ event that you’d like to view together as ‘Trial Signup’, you can combine them into a combo event.
You can also use combo events to seamlessly understand usage across web and mobile apps: just combine your web and mobile login, purchase, or sign up events into one omnichannel event, and you’ll be ready to analyze!
For a complete breakdown of activity, group by source in analysis.
To create a combo event, navigate to Define > Events and click the + New Event button. From the Sources drop-down, select Combo.
Next, select the events you’d like to add to this combo event by clicking the + Add Event button. For our Trial Signup example, we will add our events for clicking free trial and going through the process of signing up.
Click the Define Event button to save your new combo event. It will be added to the events page, indicated by the combo icon.
Note: You cannot set a Snapshot on a combo event. However, you can have Snapshots on the underlying events, which set properties, and those properties will work when you query the combo.
To create a combo when editing an existing event, navigate to Define > Events, find and click on the event you’d like to edit to open up the event details page, then in the Edit Event Criteria section, select Combo under the Source drop-down. From there, add the event you’d like to combine and click Update Event.
Capturing Multiple Versions of an Event
If you need to capture two versions of the same event that have different CSS selectors, you can combine them by separating the multiple target elements with a comma. This means that a.b, c#d targets elements that match a.b or c#d. For example, if you’re trying to capture the new and old CSS selector for your referrer field, you can create an event to capture the change on either selector by using
Feel free to reach out to email@example.com for help defining events through the Event Visualizer or through the Events tab in Heap’s UI.
Using Custom Events to Build New Events
Custom events are events that are sent to Heap using our API. Once they come into Heap, we automatically define these events for you so you can start using them in analysis. You can also rename, categorize, use them in combo events, and add notes to these events to keep them organized.
Once brought in by your API, you can rename custom events to specify the conditions of the event. For example, you might rename your custom event to ‘Order Confirmation – Revenue > $50’, ‘Sent Email – Subject: Getting Started’, and ‘Submit Sign Up – > 20 employees’. These names clearly define the parameters of the event for use in analysis.
The ‘Custom’ Source will only be available in the drop-down once you have sent an event via the heap.track API.
To build a new event using a custom event as the base:
- Navigate to Define > Events and click the ‘New Event’ button
- Choose ‘Custom’ as the Source, and select the custom event you’d like to use as a base
- Add filters to specify the parameters of your new event
- Rename and categorize your new event
Custom events are often created using custom properties or Snapshots. When a custom event definition is built on a custom property, you can see the custom property in the event definition. You can also jump to the custom property that the event is built on by clicking the external link icon next to the custom property.
Managing React Native Event Definitions
In SDK versions 0.9.0 and above, React Native events are categorized as React Native events in Heap, and use a hierarchy selector. Previously, in versions of the SDK less than 0.9.0, these were categorized as custom events, and used filters. For a full overview of what changed and how to migrate legacy events, see Migrating legacy React Native events for Heap 0.9.0.
Fact-checking Your Event Definitions
Unsure if you defined your event correctly? There are a couple of things you can check to gain confidence.
Check Analysis Preview
On the Event details page (Define > Events > click the event you’d like to see the details for), you’ll notice an Analysis Preview section. This preview gives you an at-a-glance view of your event grouped by various properties, depending on the type of event.
For this pageview event, which is defined as any page matching
/examples/*, we can see the top 5 matching paths, verifying that our event is correct. Other events have different groupings, like
target text, or custom properties for custom events.
Check the Live View
Heap’s Live view provides you with a streaming, raw feed of all of your Heap events. You can use this page to QA your event definition by checking that when you take an action corresponding to your event definition, that event is captured in Heap.
To learn how to QA event definitions in the Live View, see QA Events with Live View.
To archive an event, navigate to the Define > Events page, click the Options menu in the top right corner, and then select Archive.
To archive multiple events at once, from the events tab, click the checkboxes next to the events, then click the Archive button at the top.
Restoring Archived Events
See the Restoring Archived Definitions section of the Data Cleanup guide for complete steps to restore archived events.
Deleting Archived Events
You can also delete archived events to remove them permanently from your Heap workspace. Note that once deleted, this event cannot be restored.
To delete an archived event, navigate to Definitions > Archived, search for and click on the event you wish to delete, select the ‘more options’ icon in the top-right, and click Delete.