On Wednesday, a new tool dropped that allows anyone to create a plain text website that exists solely as a URL—which means it’s not hosted on any site, and does not require any fee.
Created by Nicholas Jitkoff, the vice president of design at Dropbox, itty.bitty sites are contained entirely within their own link. Each site can hold about as much as one printed page.
The sites are portable, as no server is needed to host them, as well as private, since nothing is sent to or stored on a server, according to the tool’s own itty.bitty site. They are also easy to share as a link or QR code.
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This tool could make it far easier and less expensive for SMBs and consultants to create a website. A single printed page may not seem like much, but it’s enough to provide information about your business and how to get in touch, giving you a free web presence.
How does it work? Itty.bitty takes HTML or other data, and compresses it into a URL fragment, according to the website. Then, it creates a link that can be shared. When someone clicks the link, the data is inflated again.
For simple formatting, users can edit text directly in the tool, using HTML’s editable content features. For a more rich experience, you can use HTML files or Codepen, according to the website.
The tool compresses content using the Lempel-Ziv-Markov chain algorithm, which significantly reduces the size of HTML and allows for that printed page worth of content in many cases. The compressed content is then encoded with base64, converting it from binary data to a string of letters and numbers that can be securely stored in a URL, the website noted.
This data is stored in a URL fragment, which is not sent to a server when requesting a website—instead, the browser will use the fragment to scroll to a location on a page once it’s loaded. When the link is sent and opened, it loads the itty.bitty site and reverses the compression process to extract and inflate the data, and show it in the web browser.
Most itty.bitty sites can support about 2,000 bytes, though some can handle more. While scripting is enabled on these sites, this can lead to malicious use, so users are cautioned not to share personal information, the site noted.
Jitkoff also made the itty.bitty source code available to those interested.
The big takeaways for tech leaders:
- A new tool called itty.bitty sites allows anyone to create a plain text website that is not hosted on a server.
- The tool could make it easier for SMBs, consultants, and others to create simple websites.