API Contest: Shorten URLs, Win Prizes

Kevin Farnham
Jan. 21 2009, 02:36AM EST, the impressive URL shortening service with a wide range of features, announced a the API mashup contest last week. The contest offers a netbook computer and a VIP pass to the Shorty Awards ceremony to the winner. Two runner-up winners will receive a VIP pass to the Shorty Awards ceremony. All developers who submit valid entries will receive some "shwag." More details on our Mashup Contests Guide.

So what are the rules? Contestants must use's new API to "do something interesting, useful, unique, or that enables others to more easily use the API." Entries are posted as comments to the contest announcement blog post. The API provides capabilities to shorten long URLs, expand URLs to their original source URL, and get information and traffic and referrer statistics about URLs.

Marshall Kirkpatrick reviewed and was very enthusiastic about the capabilities the service offers:, a new URL shortening service from the innovation network Betaworks, is launching today with a staggering feature set for both end users and forward-looking developers. We've been waiting for a more intelligent URL shortening service to hit the market but even in our most ambitious visions we haven't seen something like this coming... saves a cached copy forever of every page you shorten a link to, on Amazon's S3 storage... In the background, is analyzing all of the pages that its users create shortcuts to using the Open Calais semantic analysis API from Reuters!

What to build? The team provides some ideas to get you started:

  • A blog plugin
  • A bookmarklet
  • A Twitter bot
  • An Outlook plugin
  • Client Libraries for various languages (PHP, Ruby, Python, Lua, etc). See JS api for an example:
  • Amusing implementations for obscure platforms
  • Novel or 1337 uses of to track, manage, or share content offers a REST API and a Javascript Client API. The purpose of the JavaScript client API is to facilitate development of applications that interface with the primary REST API. Authentication in the REST API is via HTTP Basic Authentication. Data can be transferred using JSON or XML formats.

The API documentation is complete, and provides examples for all of the API methods. See our API profile for more information about the API. Our Calais API profile provides an overview of the semantic analysis tool applies to analyze the pages for which users are making short-cut URLs.

If you're interested, now is the time to develop your app: the contest ends on January 28.

Kevin Farnham



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