Part of the Software applications glossary:

What is a URL shortener?

A URL shortener is a service that translates long URLs into abbreviated alternatives. URL shortening services are based on URL redirection.

Short URLs are preferable for a number of reasons. Longer ones are often broken in email messages, for example, and may not work reliably. Furthermore, for some types of communications, such as text messaging and posting to Twitter, the number of characters permitted per post is so limited that including a long URL would leave no room for a message to accompany it.

The features of URL shorteners vary from one service to another but may include:

  • The ability to track, analyze and graph traffic statistics.
  • Bookmarklets that enable URL shortening without visiting the site.
  • User-specified URL extensions.
  • A preview function.
  • Keywords.
  • Social bookmarking features.

The original URL shortener was TinyURL, which is still popular. Other commonly used URL shorteners include bit.ly, DwarfURL, is.gd and NotifyURL.

 

Learn More About IT:
> FriedBeef Tech rates five popular URL shorteners and discusses their uses.
> Wikipedia offers information on the purposes, techniques and history of URL shortening.

This was last updated in August 2009
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

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