For years I've used bookmarklets to shorten URLs.
For instance, with is.gd, I set up a bookmark to
give it a keyword like isgd, and then when I'm on a page
I want to paste into Twitter (the only reason I need a URL shortener),
I type Ctrl-L (to focus the URL bar) then isgd and hit return.
It turns out there are a few URL shorteners with public web APIs. is.gd is one of them; shorturl.com is another. There are also APIs for bit.ly and goo.gl if you don't mind registering and getting an API key. Given that, it's pretty easy to write a Python script.
Which of course I did: shorturl.
In the browser, I select the URL I want (e.g. by doubleclicking in the URLbar, or by right-clicking and choosing "Copy link location". That puts the URL in the X selection. Then I run the shorturl script, with no arguments. (I have it in my window manager's root menu.)
shorturl reads the X selection and shortens the URL (it tries is.gd first, then shorturl.com if is.gd doesn't work for some reason). Then it pops up a little window showing me both the short URL and the original long one, so I can be sure I shortened the right thing. (One thing I don't like about a lot of the URL services is that they don't tell you the original URL; I only find out later that I tweeted a link to something that wasn't at all the link I intended to share.)
It also copies the short URL into the X selection, so after verifying that the long URL was the one I wanted, I can go straight to my Twitter window (in my case, a Bitlbee tab in my IRC client) and middleclick to paste it.
After I've pasted the short link, I can dismiss the window by typing q. Don't type q too early -- since the python script owns the X selection, you won't be able to paste it anywhere once you've closed the window. (Unless you're running a selection-managing app like klipper.)
I just wish there were some way to use it for Twitter's own shortener,
t.co. It's so frustrating that Twitter makes us all shorten URLs to
fit in 140 characters just so they can shorten them again with their
own service -- in the process removing any way for readers to see where
the link will go. Sorry, folks -- nothing I can do about that.
Complain to Twitter about why they won't let anyone use t.co directly.
[ 12:42 May 28, 2013 More tech/web | permalink to this entry | ]