Skip to content
Swizec Teller - a geek with a

node-unshortener can unshort any url

Twitter Inc HQ
Twitter Inc HQ

Lately I've been spending my evenings and nights working on a super secret and above awesome project that I will talk about ... soon, when it's a bit more ready.

tl; dr -> github link to source

That project deals mostly with Twitter and harnessing url's from the stream. As anyone who's sniffed at Twitter lately can atest, therea re many, many many strange urls floating around, using any number of url shortening schemes or what seems to have become quite fashionable, a custom domains that are shortenered via services nobody could guess at.

But when you're trying to do something useful with these it's usually much easier when you have the original url to work with. Especially when it comes to doing things for specific domains.

What's needed is some sort of library that can unshort pretty much any url you throw at it. Surely someone has already made one right?

Turns out, outside of a few services, no such thing existed ... and I didn't want to use a third party service. Naturally I set out to make my own library for unshortening short links.

You can check out the source on github.


It's pretty simple to use, only has one function you should care about :)

var unshortener = require("unshortener");
// you can pass in a url object or string
unshortener.expand("", function (url) {
// prints:

Simple logic

The approach is pretty simple:

  • take a url
  • check if known service
  • know it --> use an API
  • wtf --> pretend to be a browser

As you can see, the library is pretty simple, just 68 sloc of JavaScript code. But simple solutions are good solutions I'm told and this little thing does everything I need it to do.

Right now it directly supports only and, so if you know of any more shorteners with an expand API please tell me so I can add them. Following redirects is a bit messy and I'd prefer to do as much as possible through official API's.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Did you enjoy this article?

Published on May 21st, 2011 in Application programming interface, JavaScript, Online Communities, Twitter, Uncategorized, URL shortening

Learned something new?
Want to become a high value JavaScript expert?

Here's how it works 👇

Leave your email and I'll send you an Interactive Modern JavaScript Cheatsheet 📖right away. After that you'll get thoughtfully written emails every week about React, JavaScript, and your career. Lessons learned over my 20 years in the industry working with companies ranging from tiny startups to Fortune5 behemoths.

Start with an interactive cheatsheet 📖

Then get thoughtful letters 💌 on mindsets, tactics, and technical skills for your career.

"Man, love your simple writing! Yours is the only email I open from marketers and only blog that I give a fuck to read & scroll till the end. And wow always take away lessons with me. Inspiring! And very relatable. 👌"

~ Ashish Kumar

Join over 10,000 engineers just like you already improving their careers with my letters, workshops, courses, and talks. ✌️

Have a burning question that you think I can answer? I don't have all of the answers, but I have some! Hit me up on twitter or book a 30min ama for in-depth help.

Ready to Stop copy pasting D3 examples and create data visualizations of your own?  Learn how to build scalable dataviz components your whole team can understand with React for Data Visualization

Curious about Serverless and the modern backend? Check out Serverless Handbook, modern backend for the frontend engineer.

Ready to learn how it all fits together and build a modern webapp from scratch? Learn how to launch a webapp and make your first 💰 on the side with ServerlessReact.Dev

Want to brush up on your modern JavaScript syntax? Check out my interactive cheatsheet:

By the way, just in case no one has told you it yet today: I love and appreciate you for who you are ❤️