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querystrings

March 7, 2007

If you ever pay attention to your browsers address bar while surfing the net, you’ll often notice web-pages with enormously long destinations. Although sometimes these can be a static address, most of the time query-strings (dynamic) are to blame. Query-strings are variables that are passed through links to exchange information across pages.

For example, go to searchenginewatch.com and click on any of the forum topics. In the address bar you’ll see the domain of the site followed by the name of the page being requested. After this you’ll see a question mark (?). This ? is telling the page that whatever is to the right is a variable. The value of this variable is determined by an equal sign (=) after the variable name.

Often times you’ll see a page that has several variables being past. These are separated by the ampersand symbol (&). It would look something like this: page.asp?var1=1&var2=2&var3=3. Try and experiment with putting different values (after the equal sign) and request the page again (hit enter). You might notice a thing or two change.

If you already know about querystrings and use them in your own pages (and you’ve gotten this far in the article without boring yourself), then you understand that sometimes a link can be too long to share. Let’s say you want to send a link to your clients/prospects/email lists/whatever!, and the link is way to long to put in an email. Imagine tyring to tell someone about a URL that has like 8 variables with each value at a minimum of 5 characters; that will be quite a long-ass link.

TinyURL.com offers [for free] a service that transforms your long-ass URL’s and makes them nice and short. This will make it easier for you to promote and send your links to anyone you wish. The great thing about this service is that your URL will be unique and last as long [I guess] as the site is up.

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