The popularity of sharing links via micro-blogging services like Twitter has created a flurry of competition among Web services that shorten those links with alternative names, known as aliases (define) in Web parlance.
TinyURL, launched in 2002, is the granddaddy of these services. The site claims over 200 million Web site URLs have been shortened using the TinyURL which now faces a raft of competitors.
Shortening a long Web address URL makes it easier to avoid broken links due to the text wrapping around in an e-mail send. The short character limits on messages imposed Twitter (140 characters) and others make these services especially useful. Some, like Bit.ly and TweaK, which just launched today, offer direct links to Twitter.
Pasting the original URL into an entry box at either of these sites will get you a shorter address as well as the option to post it right to your Twitter page.
TweaK, which is offered by the registry for Dot TK domain names, has a further enticement for Twitter users - even shorter URLs.
"Competitors in the URL shortening industry are using a short domain name and add a six character suffix behind it to identify the link. At Dot TK we identify the link directly by the domain name, making each link at least six characters shorter than any other URL shortening service," said Joost Zuurbier, CEO at Dot TK in a statement.
"We believe that in applications like Twitter each and every character is important. You simply have more room for your actual message," he added.
A brief test of the service bears out that claim. For example, TinyURL converted this recent InternetNews.com story with an 89-character URL:
Down to 25 characters: http://tinyurl.com/ly12ly.
Bit.ly did even better at 19 characters: http://bit.ly/uBN8E
But TweaK trumped them both at a relatively svelte 15 characters: http://22oej.tk.
IDC analyst Caroline Dangson says that since all these services are free, users can pick and choose which ones they find most useful. She's personally been using Bit.ly a lot because it also provides analytics.
"I can go back and see how often the links are used. That's a little more info I find very useful," Dangson told InternetNews.com. "As far as the microblogging services like Twitter, everyone is being forced to try and do more with less, so TweaK could be handy if you're really crammed for space and need to get that extra word in. TinyURL lets you add unique names. They all have their advantages."
TweaK also announced it's release a free "simple API" (define) designed to let developers integrate the TweaK service into their own application.
This article was first published on InternetNews.com.