TinyURL: the Hidden Gem Making Micro-Blogging Easier

March 11th, 2007

TinyURL is a great service for shortening long URLs. This is particularly helpful on Twitter, where there is a character limit on the messages, due to the fact that many people use Twitter via SMS. In such situations TinyURL makes it easy to share links with friends. As described on Wikipedia:

Short URL aliases are seen as useful because they’re easier to write down, remember or pass around, are less error-prone to write, and also fit where space is limited such as IRC channel topics or email signatures. Also some email clients impose a maximum length at which they automatically break lines requiring the user to paste together a long URL rather than just clicking on it. A short URL alias is much less likely to become broken.

In fact, with the growth of micro-blogging and mobile applications, TinyURL seems to be an important service that is sure to become even more popular. I have found that, from the sample of logs of the public timeline in Twitter, about 68% of the URLs used by “twitterers” were resolved via TinyURL.

While this is a great service, one thing that might be useful is to have a TinyURL API. As David Berlind puts it in his post, right now we are left “Desperately seeking: an API for TinyURL” :

Add an API to the service and let the growing contingent of mashup developers take over from there. That way, the TinyURL capability becomes equally available to other API enabled services and there’s no telling what sort of innovation will blossom out of some developers’ heads.

Thats quite true! I am hacking up a few toys (Mashups) for twitter and it would really help if I can have an API for TinyURL. I think its time we have an XML-RPC/SOAP interface to this great service! (Personally, It just does not seem right to screen-scrape in this day and age of Web 2.0)