Last week, I secretly released version 1.2 of my Copy ShortURL add-on. It contains a lot of improvements based on your feedback! Here's the 411 on the new features and how to use them: is the new default I switched to (from tinyurl) as the default shortening service. I am affiliated with neither of them, but I though the point of short URLs is, well, being short. So wins on that front. If you don't like that, don't fret, because...:

You can pick your own short URL service now If you have a short URL service that you like more than the default, you can pick your own now. Instructions are in the README file on github (towards the bottom). By setting the preference extensions.copyshorturl.serviceURL in about:config, you can for example use tinyurl, (requires an API key) and lots of other URL shorteners. If you have additional service URLs to share with the class, please leave a comment!

Notifications Initially, there was no way to tell if the add-on had already done its job, except for checking your clipboard contents (hint, if in doubt, yes, it worked). So I added unobtrusive Growl notifications for platforms that support it. For example:

If you don't have Growl, a Firefox notification bar is shown instead:

Finally, Copy ShortURL is now compatible with Firefox versions 3.6 to 4.0b5pre.

Hope you like it, and feel free to leave a comment here or file issues on github if anything is not working as expected.

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Since I last blogged about the Copy Short URL add-on, I stumbled across another, very popular example of automatically exposed short URLs: as well as self-hosted Wordpress instances have automatic short URLs now, starting with Wordpress version 3.0.

For example, this blog post on about a possible proof for P != NP has the shiny short URL

A recent blog post on my blog, in turn, has:

Of course, it's a little sad that the auto-generated short URLs on self-hosted Wordpress instances are so ugly, and they are not really short enough to use them easily on twitter or with other character-sensitive applications. But considering how long your average blog post URL is in the first place, it seems like a great win nonetheless.

An unrelated side note: I filed a bug to expose URLs on Mozilla's bugzilla instance. It's not picked up or resolved yet, so if you want to see the support as much as I, feel free to comment on or CC yourself on the bug!

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The Copy ShortURL Add-on has been on AMO for a week now and was recently approved to be public, so now I have a user base to please ;)

I am inclined to drop the code onto github, where I'd get a proper version history along with a bug tracker. Update: It's on github now!

For now though, here are a few ideas I have for the add-on, in no particular order and with no promise that I'm about to implement any of this right away:

  • Allow other URL shortening services. tinyURL is all fun and games, and I chose it over because it does not require an API key -- but if you have one at hand, you should be able to use any service you like. Even if only by setting an about:config preference.
  • Incorporate selected sites that support short URLs but do not publish them as a header. Zappos (, for example. Others seem to have a short URL available (such as: NY Times (, Amazon (, ESPN ( but only use them on their twitter account and not on every webpage, so there might be nothing we can do :(.
  • When shortening, need to make sure not to use the current URL but the canonical URL if such a header exists. (Fixed!)

Let me know what you think! I'd like to know if any other things come to your minds, or which of the above you'd find especially useful.

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Update: The add-on is now on AMO! Check it out! Also, feedback is greatly appreciated!

This week during the Mozilla Summit in Whistler, British Columbia, there was a "Rocket Your Firefox" Jetpack contest: The idea, make a new add-on using the Jetpack SDK, submit it, win a prize.

So I went ahead and made a jetpack called "Copy Short URL" and it does what it sounds like:

On any webpage, you get a new item in the right click menu called "copy short URL". When you click it, the add-on looks for a canonical short URL exposed in the page header. Currently, a number of major websites expose their own short URLs for any entry on their webpages, among these: youtube (""), flickr (""), Arstechnica, Techcrunch, and many more. If, however, the site does not name its own short URL, the add-on automatically falls back to making a short URL using Either way, after a fraction of a second, you end up with a short URL in your clipboard, ready to be used in forum posts, tweets, or wherever else you please.

My add-on won the contest in the "most useful" category. The prize was an awesome jetpack sweatshirt:

If you want to check out the add-on, it is currently available (open source, of course) on the add-ons builder website. I also uploaded the add-on to AMO.

Hope you find it useful!

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