New York-based Betaworks today launched a useful–and cute–URL shortener, Bit.ly. The user-facing features, such as tracking clicks and cookie-based history of recent shortened URLs, are nice. Where Bit.ly really shines is the data it makes available via its simple API.
Without registering for an API key, developers can shorten URLs, expand previously-shortened URLs, and get data about a Bit.ly URL. The information Bit.ly makes available includes the number of clicks, the referring sources of those clicks, and three sizes of thumbnails of the resulting web page.
Bit.ly is a model platform, a great example of how to launch a service with an API. The developers kept the feature-set limited, but provided a lot of value in three functions:
- Create a Bit.ly URL to Webmonkey blog: http://bit.ly/api?url=http://www.webmonkey.com/blog/
- Retrieve original URL from Bit.ly URL: http://bit.ly/resolve?url=http://bit.ly/zGUGm
- View stats for Bit.ly URL: http://bit.ly/feed.php?url=http://bit.ly/zGUGm
By making its API simple, Bit.ly is bound to get developers using its service. In little time, we should see Bit.ly incorporated into Firefox extensions and Twitter clients, which should help it gain traction. If the service gets used, ReadWriteWeb reports that Bit.ly has bigger plans:
You want to see all the web pages related to the US Presidential election, Barack Obama and Asheville, North Carolina? Or about Technology, Google and The Dalles, Oregon? That will be what Bit.ly delivers if it can build up a substantial database of pages. Once it does, it will open that data up to other developers as well.
It sounds like Bit.ly intends to keep sharing any data it collects, which will benefit everyone. A site can no longer be an island and Bit.ly is an excellent role model for services being built in an ever more connected web.