Wednesday, April 23, 2008

URL Shortening Services


URL Shortening Services

I am not going to be so foolish was to compare the different URL shortening services. That would be like comparing the different types of apple peelers or cherry pitters. They provide an important service, but not a particularly sexy one. Suffice it to say, we could hold a death match between three of the top names: SnipURL, TinyURL and the newer dwarfURL. I have been using both Snip and Tiny for several years interchangeably. For those uninitiated to URL shortening, it is a very common practice. Here is the situation. You need to share a Web address (URL) with someone, and you start typing it, but you miss one or more characters, or worse yet, your e-mail service cuts off the link or doesn't hyperlink it correctly as it spills over onto the next line. Or, still worse yet, the URL is so long that you just get tired of typing it or copy it wrong. You get the point. Wouldn't it be easier to share Web links if they were just much shorter? Bring in the various free URL shortening sites.

The three shown at the top of this post are all providers of this all-important service. dwarfURL offers a history of the long URLs you have used in the past, and it keeps this as a database. It also has a Firefox add-in available. SnipURL allows you to manage and browse your "snips," but they require you to register and log in to manage this database. Both SnipURL and TinyURL can be dragged to your Web browser's Favorites. Depending on your security settings, you may or may not be able to add a button in your Links toolbar. I use TinyURL a lot. There is nothing fancy about it, but since I share Web links with staff members all day long, it makes quick and easy work of this task, which is what I need. Taking a 120-character URL and converting it to 14 characters is really quite slick, and important. If you start using this tool (from any of these sites), you will wonder how you did without it for so long. Your blog posts and e-mails will appear so much more professional. Add this to your browsing/sharing repertoire, and your friends and colleagues will think you are the ultimate blogging, browsing, tech-tinkering Web savvy guru, and this service costs not a cent.

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