Sjoerd Maessen blog

PHP and webdevelopment

Using the BitLy API to shorten urls

without comments


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I was asked to place Twitter messages with product links when new products were added to a webshop. I’ve used my own Twitter class for posting the first test Tweet then I went looking for a shorten url a service to shorten the product links.

There are many url shorten services available on the internet, one of these services is Bitly.
The reasons why I’ve chosen Bitly:
– Urls don’t expire after a period of time.
– Bitly provides a click url summary (although Google Analytics can be used for this instead)
– Urls are short in length so i could use the remaining Tweet length for a small product description.
– And more important, they provide an easy to use API.
– Authentication does not require a password, we can use our API key instead.

Before we can connect to the API, we need a Bitly account, the account can be created at http://bit.ly/ to obtain a free API key.

The communication process is quite simple:
– Authenticate with your Bitly username and API key
– Call the right Bitly API url with the correct parameters for the action we want to perform
– Process the result

Below are some snippets of my Bitly class:

  1. span class=”coMULTI”>/**
  2.          * Version of the bit ly api
  3.          * @var string
  4.          */‘2.0.1’;
  5.  
  6.         /**
  7.          * Url of the api
  8.          * @var string
  9.          */‘http://api.bit.ly/’;
  10.  
  11.         /**
  12.          * username
  13.          * @var string
  14.          *//**
  15.          * apikey
  16.          * @var string
  17.          *//**
  18.          * Set username and apikey
  19.          *
  20.          * @param string $sUsername
  21.          * @param string $sApiKey
  22.          * @return void
  23.          *//**
  24.          * shorten
  25.          *
  26.          * @param string $sLongUrl
  27.          * @return object with shortend url and hash
  28.          */‘shorten’/**
  29.          * expand
  30.          *
  31.          * @param string $sShortUrl
  32.          * @return object with original url
  33.          */‘expand’/**
  34.          * process, checks the action and returns the result
  35.          *
  36.          * @param string $sAction
  37.          * @param string $sParam
  38.          */// Check the url, if no http is present, add it
  39. ‘http://’‘http://’.$sUrlToParse;
  40.                 }
  41.  
  42.                 // Compose action url
  43.                 $sParam = ($sAction == ‘shorten’) ? ‘longUrl=’.$sUrlToParse : ‘shortUrl=’‘?version=’‘&’.$sParam.‘&login=’.$this->sUsername.‘&apiKey=’‘&format=xml’;
  44.  
  45.                 // Get data
  46. ‘Api returned an invalid response!’);
  47.                 }
  48.  
  49.                 // Check for errors
  50. ‘ERROR’‘: ‘.$oData->errorMessage);
  51.                 }
  52.  
  53.                 // Build result object

The reason why I build a result object is because of the fact that the server where the class is deployed doesn’t support JSON but JSON is also available as return format.

Furthermore, generated urls can be saved to our Bitly account history by adding an additional parameter to the url (history = 1). Another nice option of the API is to shorten the URL to a keyword, this can be achieved by sending the (keyword=your keyword) parameter along.

The complete API manual can be found at Google Code which also describes how to get click statistics of the shortened links.

Written by Sjoerd Maessen

December 4th, 2009 at 5:05 pm

Posted in API

Tagged with ,

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