Strong opinions, weakly held

Why, Microsoft, why?

Let’s say you need to include a link to Microsoft’s Jscript reference in a print document. The URL used to be http://msdn.microsoft.com/scripting/jscript/. Now it’s this crazy, lengthy URL with another URL nested inside it, and the inner URL actually ends with a GUID. I think we can pin this one on lazy content management system developers. In any case, it’s sad to see a perfectly good URL die. For the record, here’s a link with the new URL. I would have just posted it but it’s so long that it would have thrown off the layout of this page.


  1. Well, it’s not a whole lot better, but you can also link directly to the page that has the content on it (the bottom-right frame) and the frames will build themselves around the content page. The link is only a little shorter, but at least the URL actually points to the resource you really want (instead of to an index page), and it doesn’t have the link-within-a-link.

    For example, instead of linking here, link here.

  2. Alas, Bryan, it doesn’t — TinyURLs get reused over time, so that link will be as meaningless as the MS links themselves in a little bit of time.

  3. (I’m back here because I stumbled across this conversation while searching for something else)

    Jason–and you search engine passenger–I don’t know where you got the idea that TinyURLs get reused, but I can’t see how.

    TinyURL just went from 5 digits to 6 digits. Each digit is the number [0-9] and letters [a-z]. This means there’s 36 possible characters in each position.

    Google Calculator says
    6^36 = 1.03144248E28 — that’s 1 with 28 zeros after it! There aren’t that many URLs on the web, even with variances for parameters, so I don’t think we’ll run out any time soon.

    Now suppose I’m smoking some crack and I got the formula wrong. Let’s try it the other way:

    36^6 = 2,176,782,336 — that’s 2 trillion addresses. I don’t think we’ll hit the limit, but if we do, TinyURL just adds another digit and…

    36^7 = 78,364,164,096 — Seventy Eight trillion URLs.

    Reuse defeats the whole purpose and is unnecessary.

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