One day, I was frustrated by the lack of open solutions to a common problem. And now, I’m excited to announce Excella’s latest foray into the open-source world – our new URL shortener, which we’ve made available for you as well!
What is a URL Shortener or Link Shortener?
Sometimes, web addresses can be long and hard to remember, and you’d rather have a keyword or small phrase that you can give to people to easily find the content. A website that allows you to type in the short-hand URLs and redirects you to their longer counterparts is called a URL shortener or link shortener.
To ensure people can type these things quickly and that the domain names themselves are short, various companies came up with different domain names – Twitter has http://t.co, Google has http://goo.gl, and Microsoft has http://aka.ms, for example. Bit.ly is another popular shortener. We decided to build our own at http://xluh.co.
(Excella co…get it? No? Is this thing on?)
Why Build Our Own URL Shortener?
Sometimes we don’t get to pick which URLs we use. Internal applications, vendor tools, and CMSs can generate long, unwieldy URLs that are hard to remember and distribute.
Beyond the convenience of saving you all that typing and confusion, link shortening tools also allow for the collection of analytics. We can see how often links are clicked, who’s clicking them, and what the traffic patterns are. It can be helpful to see where clicks to a link are coming from, or who is using links in real-time.
However, if you want these tools, and you want to use a custom domain name, it can get expensive pretty quickly. According to our best research, other providers can charge upwards of $995 per month.
Since the application is straight-forward, we figured rather than spend around $12,000 per year, we’d just, you know, do it ourselves.
How Do I Check It Out?
To see the code, you can check out http://xluh.co/repo. We’d love your feedback and contributions!
How Can I Use This New Tool for My Own Domain?
For help adapting the project for your own site, check out http://xluh.co/makeitmine, which links to an article in our repository. Have any questions? Feel free to open an issue there and we’ll be happy to help you with it! You can always contact me at [email protected] for more information as well.
How Did We Build This Tool?
I hope to dive into that in a future post. Stay tuned.
Until then, happy easy linking!