is a blog about design, technology and culture written by Khoi Vinh, and has been more or less continuously published since December 2000 in New York City. Khoi is currently Principal Designer at Adobe, Design Chair at Wildcard and co-founder of Kidpost. Previously, Khoi was co-founder and CEO of Mixel (acquired by Etsy, Inc.), Design Director of The New York Times Online, and co-founder of the design studio Behavior, LLC. He is the author of “Ordering Disorder: Grid Principles for Web Design,” and was named one of Fast Company’s “fifty most influential designers in America.” Khoi lives in Crown Heights, Brooklyn with his wife and three children. Refer to the advertising and sponsorship page for inquiries.+
Yours to Try and Keep
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.
For the Low, Low Cost of Free
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.
The History of Shorty
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.