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This amazing new web tool lets you create microsites that exist solely as URLs

This amazing new web tool lets you create microsites that exist solely as URLs


Long live the open web

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Photo by Michele Doying / The Verge

Former Google designer Nicholas Jitkoff, who’s now the vice president of design at Dropbox, has created a really nifty new web tool he’s calling itty bitty sites, or self-contained microsites that exist solely as URLs. You can create your own by following this URL: From there, you can fill the equivalent of about one printed 8.5 x 11-inch page with any combination of plain text, ASCII characters, or emojis. The actual byte limit depends on where you’d like to share it; Twitter and Slack allow for around 4,000 bytes, while the Mac version of Chrome can accommodate up to 10,000 bytes.

The site isn’t actually hosted anywhere — the entirety of the webpage exists as a URL compressed using what’s known as the Lempel–Ziv–Markov chain algorithm. In an explanation page for itty bitty sites — stored, of course, as an itty bitty site — Jitkoff says this allows for a “significant reduction in size for HTML, and allows for a printed page worth of content in many cases.” From there, the compressed content is converted from binary into a string of characters that can function as a standard web link. The actual data is stored in the end of the link, comprised of everything after the # symbol. You can also share itty bitty sites as QR codes as well, so long as the site can be compressed into about 2,610 bytes.

According to Jitkoff, even this portion is kept private, because a web browser will usually not send that fragment of a URL to a server. “Instead, the web browser (usually) uses them to scroll to the right section of the page when it is loaded,” he explains. Jitkoff doesn’t quite know what people will do with his creation yet, which exists as an open source project on Github. But he does suggest using it for standalone poetry, bypassing Twitter’s character limit, and using it as a clever alternative for domain redirecting, so you can host larger-than-normal portions of text as standalone URLs.