Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Short URLs are so 2008. Long URLs for the win!

Do you find it annoying when you receive URLs which are completely meaningless?

How many times have you clicked on a link and would've known from the web page's title that it's not of interest to you or that you've even read it already? That happens a lot to me and so I present the solution:

It's simple: You enter a website, and get a URL that contains the page's domain name, title and optionally an excerpt of its content. If you now share that descriptive URL the recipients will me much happier receiving it instead of the cryptic original URL.

The URLs above will be converted to these much more descriptive URLs:

Also, everybody seems to create URL shortening services at the moment. A URL enlarging service is just the next logical step!

Summary: Descriptive URLs are nice, but unfortunately not every website uses them. fixes that.

Oh, by the way, there is a bookmarklet for the service, too: Long "R" Us


  1. Very nice. I've been pondering something like this for a while, but not only did you get in first, but you made something better.

    If I may suggest: There really needs to be a cap on URL length you output. The first example is 87 characters, which is going to be wrapped in all sorts of environments, such as text-based email and IRC. Somewhere around 70 characters seems like a sensible limit.

  2. One other suggestion: If you prepend a unique identifier to the URL, you could process redirects even if the longer URL was truncated.

  3. This is good. But at least in Chrome the output page is in plain text. From teh API page it appears you appear to decide which to return. Perhaps the text/plain is higher priority than text/html on Chrome?

  4. Thanks for the suggestions!

    @Arachnid: Good point! Added a "short long" URL which is limited to 70ch.

    @blog: Nice idea, but I prefer to avoid artificial IDs.

    @barryhunter: Hm, I did try it Chrome I believe. I removed the text/plain output completely now. Let me know if you're still having problems.


  5. Just uploaded a new version with much, much better encoding detection. Almost all of my previously failing test cases are now working.