Bit.ly Pro Makes it Dead Simple to Create Your Own URL Shortener
Bit.ly recently unveiled a new service, Bit.ly Pro, which makes it very simple to host your own custom-branded short URL.
The basic Bit.ly Pro service, which is in the free beta stage for now, allows you to set up a short domain and then point that domain to the Bit.ly servers. From there Bit.ly Pro works just like the existing Bit.ly service — it simply generates URLs using your custom domain.
There is also a paid “enterprise” option available which adds additional analytics for your links, custom short URLs (i.e. me.com/mypost rather than me.com/28dkad) and other pro-level features.
One very nice touch is that any existing URLs (and accompanying statistics) that you have associated with your Bit.ly account will be automatically migrated to the new domain.
Bit.ly has also made sure that any third party tools (such as Twitter clients) using the Bit.ly API can use your new short URL — just login with your Bit.ly username and API key and everything will work as usual.
Unfortunately, while Bit.ly Pro makes it dead simple to set up your own custom short URL, it does not, as Dave Winer points out, do anything to address the problem of URL portability. As we’ve written in the past, URL shortening services are very dangerous for the web — if Bit.ly goes out of business all those Bit.ly links become useless.
The way that Bit.ly Pro is currently set up, having your own domain does not mitigate the broken link problem. It may be branded with your domain name, but the data is no more portable than before. As Winer says, Bit.ly could, for example, “echo all your shortened URLs to an Amazon S3 bucket that you control,” but so far at least, Bit.ly Pro does not offer a way to export your shortened data.
Still, if you’ve been looking for a simple way to create custom short URLs, Bit.ly Pro is about easiest method we’ve seen. Better hurry though — short, clever domain names are going to start disappearing fast. You may want to consider registering something in Yiddish.