About ReferURL

ReferURL.net is a link shorting service I created. You paste in a long URL (say to an eBay auction or newpaper article) and it gives you a short URL to use (http://referurl.net/123). You also have the option of picking an alias for a referurl, something like http://referurl.net/r/xxx. Also, a common usage pattern is a bookmarklet that you drag from the page to the toolbar. Whenever you click on the bookmarklet, it runs a bit of javascript code that submits the page you are currently looking at to ReferURL.

URL shortening services are great for emailing URLs to friends. Recently they are even more important for posting URLs on twitter (with only 140 characters, every character saved counts).

A service that does similar things called TinyURL.com has been around for a long time. Personally, I do not like tinyurl.com. I think it is ugly. There is another reason I remember disliking them, but it is possible that I have two services confused, so I won’t mention it. They also didn’t offer aliases when I wrote ReferURL.

I used to use another service, but it broke repeatedly, then when it had several months of downtime I decided to write my own. That service also didn’t support aliases.

At this point when I look around the new services that are similar, I see three things that may be better than ReferURL.

  1. Some services are prettier (of course, extra graphics means slower load times).
  2. Some services put the new shorter url into your clipboard buffer so that you don’t have to copy it yourself. I would love to add this, but as far as I can tell it is implemented with Flash, which I don’t own.
  3. With twitter, every character counts. There are now some services with names much shorter than referurl.net. TinyURL.com is one character shorter. Bit.ly is six characters shorter. If any one has an good idea for a name that is shorter than referurl.net, I would love to steal it. In my own twitter usage, I haven’t had trouble with the length of ReferURL yet though.

Anyway, those are my comments on the creation of ReferURL.net. For the time being, I plan to keep looking for ways to improve it and will keep working on it.

Also, I will be releasing the code for people who want to run/write their own service in the future. I had previously released some code, but now that it is several months old, I took it down until I had time to clean the current code for re-release. If someone were to email me asking about that, it would probably get me to do it sooner.  It is a Python project build on mod_python and PostgreSQL.