Cloud

Google shutting down goo.gl shortlink service: Here are the alternatives

The service is being sunsetted in favor of FireBase Dynamic Links for developers, while regular users are advised to use competing services.

Building a slide deck, pitch, or presentation? Here are the big takeaways:
  • Google has announced the discontinuation of the goo.gl short linking service in favor of a similar service in FireBase.
  • All existing short links made through goo.gl will continue to be directed to the intended web page.

Google has announced the staged discontinuation of the goo.gl short linking service, which originally launched in 2009. In a blog post, the company cited the proliferation of alternative URL minification platforms, like ow.ly and Bitly, as well as the fact that "the ways people find content on the Internet have also changed dramatically, from primarily desktop webpages to apps, mobile devices, home assistants, and more."

The discontinuation of goo.gl will be in three stages, the post said. Starting on April 13th, anonymous users and users who have not used the service before will no longer be able to make new short links.

For developers, the URL Shortener API will be restricted to projects that had already accessed it before May 30th. The goo.gl management console will continue to work until March 30th, 2019. Even after this date, all existing short links made through goo.gl will continue to be directed to the intended web page.

SEE: Cybersecurity strategy research: Common tactics, issues with implementation, and effectiveness (Tech Pro Research)

According to the post, Google recommends that developers switch to Firebase Dynamic Links, which the company noted is also a free service, independent of the size of your project. Dynamic Links includes the ability to redirect users to the same content inside of an app on iOS or Android, making the service more useful specifically for developers. Like the goo.gl service, Firebase includes an analytics system for tracking access frequency and usage patterns.

While it is fortunate that Google will continue to maintain existing goo.gl links to direct users clicking on shortened links, URL shorteners are often a problematic service to operate. Many are inundated with spam links or have troublesome reputations due to users hiding URLs to malware, spyware, and shock websites behind shortened links. Use of shortened URLs has also been banned on various websites for similar reasons.

Most URL shorteners do not have as long of a lifespan as goo.gl has had. Unlike this situation, the linked URLs tend to disappear when URL shorteners cease operations. In 2009, the Internet Archive started the "301 Works" project to archive the short link and intended destination for a variety of URL shortening services.

The goo.gl service joins a voluminous list of discontinued Google services. In 2017, the company discontinued Google Spaces, a team messaging app that lasted just under a year before being unceremoniously discontinued.

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Image: iStockphoto/Thomas-Soellner

About James Sanders

James Sanders is a Java programmer specializing in software as a service and thin client design, and virtualizing legacy programs for modern hardware.

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