Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, people used really large URLs to represent locations on the net. Now days, there are a large number of URL shortening websites (like Bit.ly, SnipUrl, etc..) which translate large urls into shorter ones. Why settle for ugly urls with misplaced punctuation when you can provide your site’s visitors with amusing and mildly amusing urls like www.eepurl.com/bxNm and bit.ly/a1b2c3? Recently, I was curious as to how these systems were implemented, so I did a little research and documented my findings in this post. To illustrate this process, I’ve asked Darth Vader to help explain how these systems work.
In the example below, I’ve created a mythical URL shortening service named Dork.ly, which provides a service similar to Bit.ly. The following diagram shows a behind the scenes look at what happens when a user clicks on a Dork.ly url.