Ultimate URL Shortner For TweetDeck Using J.MP

Let’s face it — 140 characters isn’t a whole lot for getting your point across using Twitter.   URL shorteners can help with this and TweetDeck has a number of them built-in; but, even the the “best” of those included in TweetDeck can be “bested” using the j.mp URL shortening service.  “j.mp” is short for “jump”.   The problem is -most people don’t even know it exists or even given the whole thing much thought about it for that matter…

There are MANY URL shortening services available.  Perhaps the most well known of them is bit.ly. Bit.ly does a great job, but even the folks at bit.ly thought that they could do better, so they started the j.mp url shortening service.

Again, when dealing with Twitter, URL shorteners are an absolute necessity.    Saving two characters amounts to approximately a 1.5% gain in Tweeting-communication-potential… Nice.    Sure, there are cool things like deck.ly now, but I don’t use it, I don’t like it –I like to keep things neat, tidy, and in the 140 zone completely, ellipsis-free.

“140 characters isn’t a whole lot for getting your point across using Twitter.”

Let’s take a look at some URL shortening numbers from a number of great URL shortening services using an already optimized link…

The original link is/was:

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/a-p-s-musicmaster-pro/id441595661?mt=8 –> 69 Characters

This is a direct link to a Music Education iPad application that I was a large part of authoring: A.P.S. MusicMaster Pro (by all means, feel free to check it out!).

I made a people-friendly shortened URL of this by using an open-source, self-hosted, PHP application named YOURLS. Here is the custom link that I created of the above Apple Store URL:

http://apsdevs.com/go/musicmasterpro –> 36 Characters

Not bad –and people can remember it (at least, I can); but for Twitter, this one link still eats up almost 24% of your available 140 characters!  This is where services like bit.ly and j.mp really shine.   Below is a comparison of  some of the top URL shorteners using the above people-optimized link as a source URL:

So, if we look at this “by the numbers”, the original non-shortened link takes up almost 50% of the available 140 Twitter Characters leaving only 71 characters for the message.  The “people-friendly” link takes up about 26% of the available characters leaving 104 characters for the message and the j.mp shortener link takes up just about 13% of the characters leaving a WHOPPING 122 characters left-over for the message – 2 more characters than its bit.ly counterpart.   Pretty cool and a whole-lot Twitter-geeky.  :)

Ok, so “How do I do this amazing integration using TweetDeck?”   (Wow, that was a real round-about, pre stage-setting-way to get to the point of this post…)  The answer is: you use the j.mp API and the “other” URL option in the TweetDeck “service” settings page.   It’s not as hard as it sounds –take a tutorial journey with me…

To do this, we need to get a few pieces of information from bit.ly (remember, they own j.mp):

Part I — Bit.ly Prep

  1. Create and/or login in to your bit.ly account at http://bit.ly/
  2. Click “your” name in the upper right-hand corner of the bit.ly page and choose the “settings ” link
  3. Copy your API key

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Part II — TweetDeck Prep

  1. Open up TweetDeck and go to the settings page (wrench icon-upper right corner)
  2. Click on “services”
  3. In the drop-down box by the statement “select the services you wish…”, chose “other”.

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Part III — API magic and bit.ly/j.mp voodoo!

In order to make this magic happen, we have to do some real smoke-and-mirror API voodoo here…  First of all, we will be working with the following url template:

http://api.j.mp/v3/shorten?login=[BITLY-NAME]&apiKey=[API-KEY]&longUrl=%@&format=txt

Note the two bracket items above: [BITLY-NAME] & [API-KEY], these are what we need to change in the template:

  1. Replace the [BITLY-NAME] with your bit.ly user account name AND REMOVE THE BRACKETS [ & ]
  2. Replace the [API-KEY] with your bit.ly API key from Part I above AND REMOVE THE BRACKETS [ & ]
  3. Copy the changed/completed url template into the TweetDeck box that states “Other URL Shortening Endpoint”
  4. Click Save Settings

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[Technical note: The bit.ly API and j.mp API are virtually identical except the “api.j.mp” part.  If you were using bit.ly instead, you would state the url template as “api.bit.ly”.]

Part IV — Voila, you are done!

Check it all out by typing a URL into TweetDeck. If you did these steps correctly, you will see a j.mp shortened URL every time TweetDeck shortens a link.

BONUS items related to using j.mp or bit.ly as your TweetDeck shortener:

Bit.ly provides incredible click-usage statistics for you to explore all of your bit.ly/j.mp clicked items as well as provides a public-timeline for people to view.  To access your public timeline, use the following URL convention:

http://bit.ly/u/pisanojm –> This is my public timeline. To view yours, change the last part (after the …bit.ly/u/xxxxxxxxxxxx) to your username …

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In addition, you may add your latest shared links to your Website or almost anywhere via the bit.ly RSS mechanism:

http://bit.ly/u/pisanojm.rss

You may see the RSS implementation on my site in the right-sidebar under “Dr. P’s Latest Shared Twitter Links”.  Very cool!

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Finally, you can see ridiculously awesome OVERALL-STATS via bit.ly/j.mp, by clicking on the “analyze” tab/link on the bit.ly toolbar:

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Well, I hope this article helps you get your TweetDeck/Twitter “Geek-On” and you all get a great deal of extra-character-enjoyment out Twitter and TweetDeck now because of this post — Enjoy!

Joseph M. Pisano, Ph.D. is the creator of many education websites, a lecturer, clinician, trumpeter, and conductor. He is currently the Associate Chair of Music and Director of Bands in the Calderwood School of Arts at Grove City College in PA. He been named a TI:ME Teacher of the Year, received the JEN Jazz Educator Award and the PA Citation of Excellence. He is a past Vice President of the Technology Institute for Music Educators and the current Vice-President of the PA Intercollegiate Bandmasters Association. He also writes for DCI Magazine, Teaching Music Magazine, and is the Educational Editor for In-Tune Monthly Magazine; he has contributed hundreds of articles to various publications. Find out more at his website jpisano.com.
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