Those of you that have had the absolute pleasure of seeing me speak at a conference or at a class know that I’m not afraid to mention my blog once or twice. I’m even worse on Twitter. Due to Twitter’s limit of 140 characters and SharePoint’s really long URLs sometimes it’s tough to explain a URL and post it in one tweet. The URL to a post on my blog is 59 characters alone. I could use popular URL shortening tools, but honestly, I don’t trust them. I am very hesitant to click them myself as I never know where they’re going to go, and as a linker, I don’t trust them to be online, or not alter my URL any after the fact.
For a couple of months I looked for a URL shortening solution that I could run myself. There’s one on Codeplex that is okay, but it didn’t meet my needs exactly, and support is iffy. I tried to cobble something together with web parts, query strings and link lists. I could never get it all to work. I tried some IIS extensions and none of them were exactly what I was looking for either, and they were a pain to work with. I had nearly given up.
Then I remembered the folks at SharePoint Short URL. I dropped them a line to see if I could get a license, as it was exactly what I was looking for. They were kind enough to send me a license. I can say it’s fabulous! It’s exactly what I was looking for. I will admit that the first build I got from them had a bug with anonymous access, which is obviously necessary for a public blog. After I reported the bug they were very apologetic and had the software fixed within a week or so. These days good customer service can be tough to find. These guys have it. I’m very happy.
So how does it work? It’s a very painless install. It simply installs as a Solution that’s scoped at the Web Application level. Enable for whatever web apps you want short URLs for. When you do that a couple of extra menu items are added to SharePoint. One for creating a shorturl to whatever object the menu is on, be it a page, a document, list item, whatever. The second item is a generic “Create ShortURL” option where you can create a short URL to anything, even my blog! It looks like this:
Click that and you’re taken to a page to create the short url. You’re given a random short url, or you can define your own.
Since ZLWEMB doesn’t really make much sense I changed it to Netcast80 and clicked save. I was then taken to this page:
This page is a nice touch. I have easy options for copying the URL or emailing it right from the web page. Very nice.
All of this information is stored in a SharePoint list called “ShortURL” at the root of the web application. If you browse there you’ll see this (without the cool Trans Am logo):
Here you can see all of your shorturls and where they map to. You also get a hit count, which is very handy.
For my blog the uses are obvious. For internal users it can be less obvious. SharePoint URLs are notoriously difficult to deal with. With shorturls to documents or to calendars or whatever it now becomes very easy to send these URLs in email, IM, or even the holy grail, over the phone! With shorturls it’s impossible to give someone a SharePoint URL in speech. You have to make it clickable, which can be a real pain.
I’m really happy with the ShortURL software from SharePointShortURL. If you’re looking for URL shortening software, please check them out.