December 5, 2011

Yourls

Chris Craft is a smart dude. Actually it's Dr. Craft now. 

2 years ago, he talked to me about a custom url shortener he had installed on his server. Sounded cool but I wasn't ready to invest time into getting it installed. Last year he talked to me about it again, because I asked about it. I thought specifically the ability to track these links and clickthroughs seemed interesting and useful information. Sites like bit.ly do the same but I think anytime you can own your own stuff, whether it's a domain or website, that's good move. D'arcy Norman's taking this idea to its fullest in his latest pursuits of ownership. 

Anyway, I sometimes get in this geeky mood and want to roll up my sleeves and use things like FTP, MySQL and config files. Truth is I barely know what those things are but sometimes force myself to be geeky because it's good for me. 

So I managed to install the thing on my server and short of had it working. What it does is take your existing domain, in my case I chose my shareski.ca domain as opposed to ideasandthoughts.org because it's shorter and also is a little more recognizable. Both domains and sites reside on the same server so it didn't matter which I chose. I created a separate directory for my URLs to live. I thought I had installed it correctly but somehow all my shortened URLs were pointing back to shareski.ca You do that about 3 times and you're officially a spammer. So I left it and got Dr. Craft to take a look at it. (How awesome is that you can give someone full access to your server and he just fixes it?) I think my config file was pooched. (see definition 5) Chris I owe you a breakfast in Philly. 

Whatever he did it now works. What I'm able to do is create bookmarklets to shorten automatically or create custom shortened URLs to share. Great for workshops, twitter and elsewhere. You can tell if your share a link with a specific group, how many may have opened it.  The URLs stay with me and the tracking feature is pretty nice. After a few days using it, here are my overall results:

 

You can also see where your traffic comes from.

I also am using a WordPress plugin that auto generates a shortened URL and auto posts to twitter. There are probably other features that I'm not aware of yet but I think it's certainly good thing to explore if you have access to a server. 

If you use tweetdeck you can include it as your default shortener. The instructions to do that are here. Lots of other little add ons and tools that you might find useful.