Introducing RLE.me; My own URL shortener
August 20th, 2009 | Recent Work
URL shorteners have gotten a lot more use in the last couple years with the increasing popularity of Twitter. I’ve even been seeing them in print publications like .net magazine. Who wouldn’t want a shorter and more memorable URL? Shorteners are a great way of saving space and characters. As great as they are, every silver lining must have a cloud.
The recent announcement of tr.im to shutdown caused some panic. Even though they later recanted, the damage was done. Many in the community started to wonder; “What happens when the short URLs we’ve used die?” The answer of course is that if a service like tr.im closed, all of the links you made would effectively no longer work; rendering countless articles, tweets useless.
Who can fault tr.im for wanting to throw in the towel? More popular shorteners like bit.ly, tinyurl and is.gd must have massive server bills, and few opportunities to monetize their sites. Nothing lasts forever, so relying on these sites started to feel a bit dangerous. The solution is simple; create your own private URL shortener.
I set out to do this after seeing an article on Digg on the subject. When the time came to set it up, it was easier than I had originally hoped! Using a little PHP app called Lessn (linked below in the example) I was able quickly get my own up and running. The hardest part was thinking of a URL! I chose rle.me (RLE said quickly sounds like Arley, it was a high school nickname) as it was the shortest URL I could get (I think all two letter combinations of popular extensions are taken).
Now a long URL like http://www.shauninman.com/archive/2009/08/17/less_n can be as short as http://rle.me/1