Follow URL Redirects with Node.js

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URL shorteners are a dime a dozen these days, and it is quite nice to have a pretty URL instead of a mile long string, but there are some downsides to URL shorteners:  they can mask dangerous URLs and getting to the endpoint can be slow, since you end up making multiple requests.  And what if a shortener sold out to a porn company?!  Whoa!

A while back I wrote a post about following URLs from command line with cURL.  Since I love JavaScript and Node.js is in full flight, I want to show you linkfollower, a Node.js utility for following URL redirects and getting the final landing URL.

Start by installing linkfollower:

yarn add linkfollower
# or `npm install linkfollower`

With linkfollower installed globally, we can use the follow command to follow the series of redirects until the final URL:

# follow {url}
follow http://davidwalsh.name/css

# RESULT:
# http://davidwalsh.name/css -> 301
# https://davidwalsh.name/css -> 301
# https://davidwalsh.name/css-animation-callback -> 200

URL shorteners can be likened to a blindfold -- the promise of going one place but possible end up in another.  Using linkfollower is a good practice if you care to be secure with links.

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Discussion

  1. The request module (https://github.com/request/request) also does this very nicely with followRedirect parameter (maxRedirects is also another handy parameter to deal with loops).

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