Thu 24 Aug
For several months now, between my day job, writing for this blog and numerous other commitments, I’ve been working with some friends on a project called Shorty. Today, for the first time, it’s available as a free, public beta release over at Get-Shorty.com.
Shorty is a link redirection tool not unlike TinyURL or Url(x), which allows you to take ridiculously long URLs, like those you might encounter at Amazon.com for example, and create much shorter aliases for them. This is useful for all sorts of things, but handiest for passing these URLs along to friends and co-workers through email or in collaborative Web environments.
The critical difference between Shorty and TinyURL is that Shorty resides on your server. You install it (all you need is a MySQL database and PHP) and you then have the power of TinyURL and its ilk, but rather than being tied to a third party, it’s a part of your brand.
Best of all, the links you create with Shorty are yours, and they’ll remain active and available so long as your domain is up and you have Shorty installed. This way, you can avoid suddenly having dozens and dozens of aliased URLs you’ve created over the years go away if and when one of these third-party services happens to shut down — much as what happened with LessLink.com did recently.
To make all of this really worthwhile, Shorty would have to be free, and luckily it is. If you find it useful, we do ask that you donate US$10 to help fund its continued development. But most of all we want you to use Shorty, and to trust that you can create aliases with it as long as you like with no fear of them ever going away. So as soon as you install it, it’s yours forever.
What’s that, you say? You’d rather not go through the trouble of mucking about on your server to install Shorty in order to see if this is a worthwhile product? That’s no problem, because we have a freely available online demo that you can try out right now. Go have a spin, and hopefully you’ll like this beta release enough to install it on your own server (remember, though, it’s a beta release, so the standard disclaimers apply). And either way, please give us some feedback in our forums.
Shorty is the direct result of a weblog post I wrote way back in January that also happened to be called “Get Shorty.” In it, I basically lamented the apparent absence in the marketplace of a link aliasing package that could be hosted on my own server; I was basically hoping out loud that someone would whip one up and release it to the world. Well, I got a few messages from various people who answered the call, but the most persistent of them was Reed Morse, who whipped up a prototype and continued to evolve it over the course of several weeks, sharing his progress with me.