It was probably the advent of micro-blogging sites like Twitter that made it important to shorten the long URLs. Twitter allows only 140 characters per tweet. So, if you want to say something and also add a URL in the same tweet, 140 characters are a bit too less. So, Twitter came up with its own URL shortening service. Now, Twitter automatically shortens every URL pasted in a tweet (shortened URL takes 22 characters).
There are several URL shortening services out there. We will look at some of the top ones. But first let's understand why URL shortening is a good idea.
Well, Twitter provides its own URL shortening service. But what could be other reasons for shortening a URL? One of the main reason is that the short URLs are easier to remember, print and convey. A full URL could be hundreds of characters long (and there is no upper limit!). In such cases it is impossible to remember and decently print it.
A number of times we come across long Uniform Resource Locators (URLs) on Internet. Pasting these miles long URLs in limited character services (like Twitter allows only 140 characters per update) proves to be a great problem.
Moreover, URLs containing non-Roman script languages, such as Hindi, also become very long and pose a challenge in printing, pasting and remembering the links. Let me give you an example from Kavita Kosh (a MediaWiki based Hindi language poetry website run by me). There has been a great Hindi poetess names Mahadevi Verma. The URL of her page in Kavita Kosh looks like:
If Unicode is rendered properly
And this is how URL looks like without proper Unicode rendition
In either case, you can see that URL is too long to be pretty.
In December 2009, Google also launched a URL shortening service which is now available at http://goo.gl . You can go to goo.gl and paste any URL that you want to get shortened. Google will oblige. I personally prefer to rely on Google for URL shortening because Google is one of the largest web companies and the chances of Google closing this service are remote. This is important because if such a service providing company shuts down its business –all the URLs shortened by the company will immediately become invalid. So, using goo.gl increases the probability of your links remaining active for long. Google also provides performance details about links it shortened for Feedburner service (if you are using it). It tells you which link was clicked how many times in your feed.
I hope this was useful for you. Please feel free to ask if you have any questions. Thank you for using TechWelkin.