Nathan's Site

Making A Simple Link Shortener


The idea of a link shortener has always intrigued me. You give it a big link, and in return, you get a small link. The issue is, you give it a big, hard to remember link, and it gives you a small, hard to remember link. And if you want to use your own domain, most will charge you for it. So, I looked into making my own.

Give Small Link

Turns out, making a link shortener is pretty easy. There’s an HTML element that can refresh the page with a different URL. I just needed a simple page with that element. Easy. As for fixing the hard to remember part, well, its my shortener, so I can do what I want.

As an example. If I wanted a quick link to my GitHub profile, with the slug of /gh. I just have to make a folder named gh, and toss an index.html with that element in there. Boom, done.

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en-us" dir="ltr">
<a rel="me" href=""></a>
<meta http-equiv="refresh" content="0; url="/>

That a tag is for Mastodon’s link verification system.

But I Don't Want To Do All That

Having to make a folder, and paste an index file with the right link, for every link I want, would be a massive pain. So I don’t. The main part of this, is a script I wrote to do it all for me. It just asks for what I want to slug to be, and for the link.


echo "Link Name?"
read lname
echo "link with https://?"
read llink

git pull

cd docs
mkdir $lname

cd $lname
echo "<!DOCTYPE html>" >> index.html
echo "<html lang="en-us" dir="ltr">" >> index.html
echo "<head>" >> index.html
echo "<a rel="me" href=""></a>" >> index.html
printf '<meta http-equiv="refresh" content="0; url='$llink'"/>' >> index.html
echo "</head>" >> index.html
echo "</html>" >> index.html

cd ../..

printf "\n\n$lname > [$llink]($llink)" >>

git add docs > /dev/null
git commit -m "Added $lname" > /dev/null
git push > /dev/null

echo ""
echo "link will be live at$lname in about one minute"

It will even update the readme file with the new link.

I also made a script that will generate a random slug. It just takes the first five characters of an md5 hash of the date and time. This script just asks for a description of the link1, and the link.

All of this is hosted using GitHub pages, and if you want to test a link, you can give this one a shot

I’ll probably make a public repo down the line with instructions on how to set this all up. But feel free to use what I’ve posted here, just with your own domain.

  1. For the readme file. ↩︎

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