Stuff & Things

A Different Kind of URL Shortener

Short URLs are here to stay and some people aren’t too happy about it. While shortened URLs have some benefits, they have their problems too:

    • If a URL shortening service stops working (or is shut down, like, the redirects are lost (commonly referred to as “link rot”).
    • Cloaking a link’s destination using short URLs can be used to send a user to a malicious web site.
    • Some web sites block users from posting links from URL shortening services for the above reasons.

    Solutions: rev=”canonical” and rel=”shorturl”

    The problem addressed above can be resolved if a web site’s publisher provides their own short URLs. With this in mind, the rev=”canonical” and rel=”shorturl” standards were proposed to allow publishers to specify a short URL for a web page.

    These two standards offer different ways of saying the same thing:

    Instead of using that service you like for shortening my URLs, I’ll provide you with my own short URL. The short URL I provide will (likely) be short enough for your needs and my URLs won’t be subject to the drawbacks associated with the URL shortening service you choose.

    It doesn’t matter which standard is better—both are being used by major web sites. (Also, are there any others that I’m missing that are actually being used? Let me know by emailing steve @ this domain.)


    Currently, there aren’t any tools to grab all of the publisher-provided shorter URL in a standards-agnostic way. Tools that will grab either rev=”canonical” or rel=”shorturl”, but not both.

    That’s where comes in. isshort doesn’t care what URL shortening standard the publisher uses, it will find them all. This user-focused design will hopefully spur more sites and apps to provide their own short URLs.

    Supported Short URLs

    Currently, supports short URLs using the rel=”canonical”, rel=”shortlink”, and rel=”shorturl” standards.  Also, isshort shortens (, YouTube (, and NPR ( links.  Here are some links to try:

    There’s an API, too.

    The current version of the API is located at You can always access this version (version 1) of the API with the URL parameter “v=1”. Version 1 of the API can output a short URL in plain text (default), JSON or XML formats.