Saturday, October 11, 2008

Web Tool: Short URL

I read an article about web tool to make URL short long time ago (last year?). That is ShortURL. However, the site may not free soon as I recall a warning in the article. Now I think that I do need a tool to redirect long urls such as my blog entries to a short one. By gooling web, I found MetaMark.

The short URL generated by this site is not a user friendly one, but it works. According to the information of this site, if the url has not been used for more than two years, it may expire. For short term use, this web tool is great. For example, my previous post is at, comparing to

Here is the form I copied from the site to do the job:

Enter a long URL to make shorter

I did several tests. If you use it to generate one and try the same long URL again, the one first time generated is returned back. Therefore, you just cannot change it. It does not check if the URL exists or not. I gave a none-existing one, and it still generated a new short name, which is not not-found-url. May be this is a way to change it (by making the previous existing one invalid). The web server just generates an alternative short URL, no matter the URL you provide is valid or none-short one. I tried to get a short URL for "". The new one is "" (it may exist or I just generate one for it):).

A related technique about URL is to implement ASP.Net's MVC framework. Its URL is based on controller, action and router. You can construct your own user-friendly URLs. The URLs based on ASP.Net MVC does not contain .aspx or .html suffix and not url parameters like ¶1=value1... You will see more short and user friendly URLs on web. The Metamark page mentioned that it is using MVC pattern. Maybe this server just use the pattern to build a very simple, random and short URL mapped to a long URL.

You can do the same thing for your company's web pages. Most of them are not-user-friendly URLs and hard to remember. By using ASP.Net and MVC framework, you can define a structure of URL and mapping user-friendly URLs to a existing ones without any change to the old ones. It should be very simple project.

Update: One of the great feature of Metamark web tool server is that you can provide a nickname and secret. The nickname must be unique one, not taken by others. Then the generated URL is [server_home]\[nickname]-[secret]. You could create a user-friendly URL! This blog is at "shortURL" has been taken. I had to add "1" to it.

The generated short URL does not take any suffix like ".aspx" or ".html", which is not needed actually!