My URL-shortening service of choice

As far as I’m concerned, URL-shortening services have one objective: to make URLs short.  I am a lot less concerned with various features those service might offer than I am with how short they can make URLs.  As far as I can tell, j.mp creates the shortest URLs around, so it has become my URL-shortening service of choice.  Not only does it have the shortest possible domain name but it also uses both upper- and lower-case letters as well as numbers as the database key.  This means that it can index more URLs using a given number of characters than shortening services that use, say numbers and only lower-case letters.

However, j.mp is owned by bit.ly, which has a lot more visibility as a URL-shortening service.  While bit.ly owns j.mp, they are not separate services that happen to have the same owner; rather, they are highly integrated.  A single user account gets you access to both bit.ly and j.mp.  Furthermore, j.mp and bit.ly actually share their database, since http://j.mp/84SxlS and http://bit.ly/84SxlS, for example, both redirect to the same site.  This raises the question of why I would want to use a shortening service like bit.ly when j.mp is actually the same but produces URLs that are 2 characters shorter.  In many ways, j.mp is the best of both worlds.  Because it’s connected to bit.ly, it offers a slew of nice features but it produces the shortest URLs around.

Unfortunately, it’s clear from the bit.ly/j.mp website that bit.ly is interested in promoting bit.ly and not j.mp.  At some point in the past I went to j.mp and grabbed their “Shorten with j.mp” bookmarklet, which I put in my bookmark toolbar so I could easily shorten URLs for use on Twitter.  However, this bookmarklet appears to be gone.  If you go to http://j.mp/pages/tools, it offers a “Shorten with bit.ly” bookmarklet rather than a “Shorten with j.mp” bookmarklet”.  Doesn’t that seem strange?

Fortunately, there is a simple solution: manually edit the bookmarklet.  It turns out that simply changing bit.ly in the “URL” field code to j.mp is sufficient to change this “Shorten with bit.ly” bookmarklet into a “Shorten with j.mp” bookmarklet.  In addition to making the change in the “URL” field, you probably want to change the name of the bookmarklet just so it’s clear that you’re using j.mp rather than bit.ly.

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January 2010

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