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The Simple Magic of Prefixed URLs

swyx profile image swyx Originally published at swyx.io ・2 min read

If you go to https://swyx.io, you get my blog.

If you go to https://is-this.netlify.app/https://swyx.io, you get this:

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This is a little utility I made that solved the very specific pain point of figuring out whether or not a potential customer was a Netlify user or not (or had configured another CDN atop Netlify).

I originally did this as a browser extension, but the benefit of doing this as a microsite is I can now access it on my phone.

Prefixed URLs

This is a little behavior that I call Prefixed URLs, after GitPod's name for it.

It's a really nice way to enhance the open web - by creating a route that specifically accepts either any URL or some specific set of URLs, and then does something with that info to give you even more. To use this microsite, you just prepend the URL to whatever you're interested in.

I was recently reminded of this when the Github1s project went viral on HN recently. It lets you swap out any github.com repo for github1s.com and it opens up a VS Code file explorer for easier navigation (GitHub's default file navigation is slow and clunky).

github1s demo

Other Instances

I've also seen this behavior in website ranking tools: https://www.similarweb.com/website/dev.to/ shows you the traffic of Dev.to:

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In the "we deploy your code" industry it is also pretty common to use Prefixed URLs as "Deploy Buttons" like Netlify and Codesandbox.

I think this is a wonderful little user experience and encourage more people to think of creative ways to consume URLs and extend the Open Web.

Discussion (5)

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peter profile image
Peter Kim Frank

This is very cool @swyx .

A few other instances that I'm familiar with...

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dar5hak profile image
Darshak Parikh • Edited

That's nice, but why would you not include the β€œIs this a pigeon?” meme in there? πŸ˜›

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swyx profile image
swyx Author

check the og:image

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dar5hak profile image
Darshak Parikh

Hah! Didn't disappoint! πŸ†

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Haroen Viaene

I also like githubbox for making a codesandbox and cors-anywhere