CakePHP URL Shortener Service Tutorial

CakePHP URL Shortener Service Tutorial

If you have just woken up from a 10 year long coma, you might realise that the internet has been dumbed down to 140 characters and services that offer “URL Shortening” are quite widely used. Well today, coma awakened or not, I will be writing out a basic tutorial which will give you an understanding of just how to create a service like or to shorten URLs so you can insert them to fit within your 140 chars max tweets.

In this tutorial I will be creating this website using CakePHP 1.2.4, because it rocks, and you will think it rocks too if you haven’t used it yet! If you are unfamiliar with CakePHP please jump into it now by checking out either of these two books: Beginning CakePHP by Apress & Free CakePHP Book by Matt Curry! So let’s begin!

Now this isn’t going to be a tutorial into all the joys and wonders of CakePHP. There are simply too many to list, my database wouldn’t be able to hold so much information. However if you are new to CakePHP, all that this tutorial requires is that you have successfully set up CakePHP, wherever you may prefer. There are plenty of tutorials and guides on how to get CakePHP set up on the web. I did a quick search and found this one to be quite good, but there are plenty more out there. The most common newbie gotcha I find is making sure the .htaccess files are uploaded correctly. But with all that said and done! Let’s get going with our URL shortening website!

Final Source Files: app.tar.gz
Images & CSS: imagescss.tar.gz

*please note that the random string generation will lead to collisions. This is a beginner to intermediate level tutorial, so teaching about base converting is out of the question! Well for me!*

Posted by voidet

Categorised under CakePHP
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  1. i have never seen such a comprehensive tutortial on this , good on yah, i’ll buy you a paypal beer any day 🙂

    August 26, 2009 @ 3:07 pm
  2. hendrik

    great work, thank you!

    August 31, 2009 @ 5:39 am
  3. Awesome tutorial man! Thanks allot

    December 16, 2009 @ 4:25 am
  4. nice post..what about stat a.k.a link tracking? it will be great if u include it.
    i bake mine at for learning purpose.

    April 30, 2010 @ 7:43 am
    • VoiDeT

      That would be quite easy, just depends how much information you would like to store.
      For example you could simply increment a count field in the row for that entry.
      Or you could make a completely new table in the database that would log each view/click and the according information, like IP, datetime etc.

      April 30, 2010 @ 9:00 am
  5. The demo file not work, url not found

    May 23, 2010 @ 3:30 am
  6. Hi, i don like very much the function getFilename. Why dont you try using a function the transform the id of the link into a string with numbers and letters?

    pseudocode for add a link;
    // find link, if not in database insert new link
    // link_shorted= base_convert($link_id, 10, 36);
    // return link_shorted

    pseudocode for get a encoded link;
    // link_id= base_convert($link_code, 36,10);
    // search link by id
    // redirect

    if you want even shorter link you could use this functions;

    function any2dec( $num) {
    $index = substr( “0123456789abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyzABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ”, 0, $base );

    $out = 0;
    $len = strlen( $num ) – 1;
    for ( $t = 0; $t = 0; $t– ) {
    $a = floor( $num / pow( $base, $t ) );
    $out = $out . substr( $index, $a, 1 );
    $num = $num – ( $a * pow( $base, $t ) );
    return $out;

    July 3, 2010 @ 4:11 pm
    • VoiDeT

      Exactly right. This is why at the beginning I said it wasn’t the best way to do it. But for the sake of this intermediate tutorial i thought using those baseencodes would be far beyond the scope of the tutorial. I did find similar functions on that would be used to encode/decode ids or unique identifiers. But thanks for your observant comments!

      July 3, 2010 @ 4:14 pm
      • If I load the website in chrome it doesn’t show all images,also when I click on those images they redirect me somewhere else please can you check it.

        And is there any option to post a file with code inside of it that is perfect.

        November 26, 2015 @ 10:37 pm
  7. >>Exactly right. This is why at the beginning I said it wasn’t the best way to do it.

    upss, i didnt read anything i just read the code, my bad!

    July 3, 2010 @ 4:19 pm
    • VoiDeT

      No problem at all! Thanks for your input 🙂

      July 3, 2010 @ 4:21 pm
  8. Hi all!

    Thanks for that great tutorials. the thing that make me a bit uncomfortable is what will the effect of making url shortened on the site in the term of speed. and talking about dynamic links how will you get shortcode will model association useful in that case. one more question in the routes.php you have write

    Router::connect(‘/:shortcode’, array(‘controller’ => ‘shorten’, ‘action’ => ‘redirectUrl’), array(‘pass’=>array(‘shortcode’)));

    it will redirect whenever you write anything after ‘/’ for rss feed and xml link will it don’t cause problem?

    March 21, 2011 @ 10:02 pm
  9. Hey man … everytime when i am going to open your page my virus protection pops up and displays an exploit : Blackhole Exploit Kit (type 2170) which comes from

    and second one from

    more information on:


    June 5, 2012 @ 6:27 pm
  10. VoiDeT

    @kapil – Sorry the first part I do not understand your english. The second question is true. It will capture all urls with /url. But if you don’t want that, put your urls above that and use shortcode as the last catchall.

    June 5, 2012 @ 7:03 pm
  11. Hi there, I read your blog on a regular basis. Your humoristic style is witty,
    keep up the good work!

    January 4, 2013 @ 12:54 am

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