Ex-Googler Develops a Web Tool to Build Microsites Within URLs

If you’re among the millions of netizens who want to build a website to spread word, but don’t want to spend time creating it, former Google Designer Nicholas Jitkoff has developed a useful tool for you. The tool, called itty.bitty, and found on itty.bitty.site, allows you to create self-contained microsites that have their own URLs and come with an area of about one printed 8.5×11-inch page where you can type plain text, draw ASCII characters, or use emojis to show your creativity. Once created, you can share the link to your microsite through any social media platform or generate its QR code for offline sharing. Jitkoff, who’s currently the Vice President of Design at Dropbox, has primarily used a mix of HTML5, JavaScript, and CSS, while the content is compressed using the Lempel-Ziv-Markov chain algorithm. The source code of the development is also available publicly to let developers explore and experiment with these new experiences.

The itty.bitty tool offers that the chain algorithm results in a significant reduction in size for HTML and offers a printed page worth of content.

Once the content is compressed, the tool uses base64 encoding to convert it from binary data to a string of letters and numbers that come as a URL to the receiver. The process also involves fragments after the first hash (#) symbol to store the data in a section of the URL and make it unique in nature for every single microsite. Notably, the URL fragments aren’t sent to the server when requesting a site. Instead, Jitkoff states that the “Web browser (usually) uses them to scroll to a location on a page when it is loaded.”

The byte limit of the URL created through Jitkoff’s tool depends on the platform where you share it. For instance, Twitter and Slack allow you to share 4,000 bytes or 4KB in a link, while Chrome can support as much as 10,000 bytes (10KB). “Once the link is sent and opened, it loads itty.bitty.site to reverse the process, which is done completely on device. The data is extracted, inflated, and then shown in the Web browser,” Jitkoff adds.

While the URL generated through the tool is base64 encoded and doesn’t highlight the content while sharing it through any medium, it is advisable to don’t share any personal information. “Scripting is enabled on these sites, which allows for greater flexibility, but can enable malicious use,” the ex-Googler warns.

That being said, the tool seems interesting as it offers a free platform to build an enormous number of microsites that can include text, ASCII characters, emoji, or HTML files. Developers have been provided its source code on GitHub that can be used to build newer experiences or some all-new tools using the magic of URLs.