21 July 2010

My Own URL Shortener

I’m a big fan of the service which helps with the discovery of domain name variations creatively using ccTLDs. If you’re into wasting money on random domains, you can spend hours trying different words and phrases to see which crazy variants are still available for purchase. Ignoring the standard .com, .net and .org TLDs that are already taken, here’s what the service suggests as possible valid domains for my surname:

Since .sc domains cost a whopping US$125 per year, I’d ruled those out a long time ago. But when I heard .co domains were being opened up to global registrations, I happily handed over $29.99 to Go Daddy to reserve the domain, hoping nobody else would claim it during the sunrise and landrush periods.

After over four months of waiting, I finally got confirmation yesterday that the domain was mine, joining the likes of (Twitter), (Facebook) and (Google, obviously).

My first shortened URL is which is currently serving a 302 temporary redirect to since I’ve not yet decided how to structure my shortened URLs. For example, should I always include the trailing /e after the domain so that it looks more like my surname? Should I use a namespace for different URLs – e.g. something like or for blog posts and or for external links?

While I’m making my mind up about those details, I also need to decide which technology I want to use to power the URL shortener. I’ve considered services like bitly.Pro and but think I’d prefer to have tighter control over things, so it looks like I’m going to be getting my hands dirty writing a custom solution...

Any tips or suggestions?

Labels: , ,


Don't worry about the 'e' at the end man. Keep it simple. At least it still sounds like your name and it will be obvious enough I think =)

There are a bunch of LAM(PHP)-based solutions that might give you some insights in best practices: Lessn (, Yourls (, and Phurl ( come to mind.

One thing to keep in mind when writing your own is that it's probably going to need a GET-based API if you want to use it for things like bookmarklets or in applications that let you specify custom URL shorteners.

I tried this for my name but they're all way too expensive, which is a shame because all the good "grimshaw" domains are gone.

You should have used :)