This past weekend, I spent a little time getting my own URL shortening services up and running. I launched http://fnla.me and http://fnaweso.me on Saturday, August 15th, 2009. Crazy, huh? With so many services out there already, why would anyone waste their time on such a project? Does the world really need more shorteners? What do these two shorteners provide that wasn’t already available in the myriad other services out there like TinyURL, Bit.Ly and the rest? Good questions.
At last estimate there are something like 90+ publicly known URL shorteners out there. There is most likely a lot more than those in the wild, though. With this many out there, it’s difficult to know which one to use. With the high profile blowout of Tr.im, and the subsequent rebirth as an Open Source toolkit it’s even muddier. How do you know you links will be safe? How can you protect your self against Social Media Link Rot? This will assist me in making sure my shared links are indeed safe!
There are a lot of opinions on URL shorteners out there, ranging from condemnation, to simple quiet acceptance. I was vehemently against them until relatively recently, as I saw them as yet another creaky layer of redirection and pointers in the web ready to break down at any moment due to another server going down or a service running out of $.
For now, the services are pretty spartan, they simply take a URL and shorten it using a base 36 algorithm. Custom URLs are also possible. I do indeed have a number of features planned like stats, import/export and others, but it all takes time. I do hope that the service will prove to be useful to others, but making money on it or getting millions of shortened URLs isn’t my main goal. I’m building this because it seemed like a fun project to take on over a weekend.
One thing I really like about the domains I have chosen for my shorteners is that the URLs allow for some personality to come through. Is the link lame content? Politically devisive? Something you can’t believe? Than you can use http://fnla.me. On the other hand, if the content is something you can get behind and highly recommend, use http://fnaweso.me
Both sites are powered by the open source URLShortProject currently.
So what do you think? Do you have a URL shortener you have created? Care to share it?
Posted on August 17, 2009