I really dislike ugly URLs. I know most people don’t particularly care about how a URL looks, but I do. Unfortunately, a lot of URLs I end up wanting to save, or send to someone else are way, way uglier than they need to be. They have a bunch of utm_ crap all around them.

For instance, https://500px.com/photo/152315787/mankins-by-forrest-mankins?utm_campaign=mankins-by-forrest-mankins&utm_medium=social&utm_source=500px works just as well as https://500px.com/photo/152315787/mankins-by-forrest-mankins, and looks way, way nicer.

Amazon URLs can be really nice and clean, but most of them are ugly monstrosities. This mess: http://www.amazon.com/Maltese-Falcon-Vintage-Crime-Lizard-ebook/dp/B004G5ZU32/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1433505888&sr=8-1&keywords=maltese+falcon+kindle could be as simple as http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004G5ZU32.

When I’m trying to save or share one of these URLs on my Mac, it’s a minor annoyance to have to go clean them up before I do something with them. On iOS though, it’s a nightmare. Text selection is super hard to do, and trying to get rid of this crap from the Safari address bar is even harder that hitting the tiny little x to dismiss notifications in Notification Center.

I went looking for a way to automate this on iOS. Turns out there is an app for that, but it doesn’t have a share sheet extension 😏. I then turned to Workflow, but didn’t find a workflow that could do this either. I pondered making my own workflow, but good lord, it’s way too complex for me.

I then pulled up the documentation on App Extensions hoping to be able to whip together a quick project in Xcode to do this. Before I went too far down that road though, I remembered that there’s actually a way to run Python on iOS, and trigger it via a share sheet extension: Pythonista! I’d bought the app on a lark years ago because I thought being able to run Python on iOS would be useful someday. I opened it up and hacked together a quick script to do exactly that:

Now, I have a way to clean up cruddy urls 😀.

Unfortunately, extension scripts in Pythonista can’t open URLs, so for now I’m resorting to sticking the cleaned up URL on the clipboard 😏.

A few thoughts on using Pythonista:

  • It’s really quite cool that I can whip up python scripts and have them run on iOS.
  • Pythonista also has some pretty handy modules to make iOS specific stuff super easy.
  • Pythonista’s custom keyboard is more useful than I thought it would be for writing code on an iPhone.
  • Holy hell, typing code on an iPhone is a nightmare!
  • I wish there was a way for me to type code on my Mac, and be able to run it on Pythonista without having to copy/paste a bunch of times (iCloud/Dropbox sync). I believe the reason this isn’t supported has to do with sandboxing, but I’m not totally sure.

Gopal Sharma

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