[FREE] Websites Without Hosting

Category: Cool-Stuff

I am still stunned by the free gift that Nicholas Jitkoff has given to all Internet users! Appropriately released on the USA’s Independence Day, July 4, it’s a way to create websites that exist independent from any hosting service. The uses of Jitkoff’s gift, named “itty.bitty,” are many, and so are their implications for the privacy and freedom of all Internet users. Here is how it works, and some examples of what it can mean for you…

Make Websites That Need No Hosting Service

One of the great things about the Internet is that in many ways, it levels the playing field and lowers the barriers to innovation. Before the Web, if you wanted to publish an editorial (or a book), you needed to convince a newspaper editor (or a publishing house) to do so. Now, anyone can bloviate on Twitter, or publish an ebook on Amazon. You can even sell your own goods without buying space in a retail store.

But until recently, if you wanted to create even a simple one-page website, you needed to purchase a domain name, and pay monthly for a web hosting service. Itty.bitty just changed that. In a nutshell, Itty.bitty lets you encode an entire web page into a URL that can be shared with one or many people. You don't need a "dot com" or a GoDaddy to share your page with the world.

The easiest way to understand what itty.bitty does is to try it out. Open a new text document using Notepad, Word, an HTML editor, Google Docs, or any app that lets you create a document that contains text, ASCII characters, and/or emojis. Write something, format it with bullets or numbers, throw in some emojis. Then press Ctrl-A to select all of your creation and press Ctrl-C to copy it to the clipboard.

Declaration of Itty-pendence

Now use your browser to navigate to https://itty.bitty.site/edit. That is Jitkoff’s site where he hosts the Web app that converts your document into a very unusual URL. It’s very bare-bones; your cursor will already be positioned in the app’s input box. Just press Ctrl-V to paste your document into the app.

Now move your cursor up into the “untitled” input box and type a title for your itty.bitty URL. This step is optional but it will help you keep track of multiple URLs. The title is in the URL itself, right at the beginning of the URL fragment.

The screen capture below is how the itty.bitty editor looks after I pasted the beginning of this article’s rough draft into it and clicked on the “menu” label to expand the editing menu.

Itty Bitty Rough Draft

Note the byte-count in the upper right part of the screen; that is the size of the URL that the app has created from the content that you pasted into it. It’s huge! But that is where your itty-bitty website resides. When you paste the itty.bitty URL into your browser’s address bar and press Enter, you will see how big it really is. But the URL may be smaller than the content you pasted into itty.bitty.

The itty.bitty.site app compresses the content you provide using the Lempel–Ziv–Markov chain algorithm, an open source compression method used by 7-zip and other archiving apps. The binary result of that compression is encoded as ASCII characters that are permitted in a URL; that becomes the URL fragment, everything after the first # sign in your URL.

The beginning of the URL is http://itty.bitty.site/. Then comes the # sign indicating the start of a URL fragment. Your URL’s title will appear first, if you created one, and it will be legible; the title is not compressed. Following the title is a ? mark that indicates the beginning of compressed content, which looks like gobbledygook. That content takes up the vast majority of the URL’s length.

When an itty.bitty URL is pasted into a browser’s address bar and the Enter key is pressed, your browser does all the work of decompressing the URL fragment and rendering the original content on your screen. Your content does not reside on any remote server.

If you create a bunch of Itty.bitty URLs, here's a convenient way to store them. Create a new text document where you can paste the long itty.bitty URLs as separate “paragraphs” and their titles can help you select the right URL for any occasion. Also, you can shorten an itty.bitty URL with bit.ly or some other URL shortener. It will work just fine when someone clicks on its shortened form. Short URLs allow you to paste many more URLs into a single Tweet; you could easily publish a newsletter in a Tweet! There is also an option to create a QR code from an itty.bitty URL; note that QR codes have a size limit of about 2,600 bytes.

A Really Big Idea

How much content can an itty.bitty URL store? An unlimited number of bytes, in theory. But in practice, the length of any URL may be subject to limitations imposed by browsers and webmasters. Twitter, for instance, will reject a URL that is more than 12,000 characters long; URL shortening gets around that limitation. Other sites and browsers have URL length limits too. Jitkoff’s About page (actually, an itty.bitty URL) explains the limits of some popular servers and browsers.

The implications of a standalone, self-sufficient “microsite” such as itty.bitty creates are hard to imagine; even Jitkoff has no idea how people will use his creation. But here are some thoughts:

Privacy is one benefit; only you and the person to whom you give an itty.bitty URL ever see it. It’s not sent out over the Internet so even your ISP has nothing to eavesdrop upon.

Independence from the monetary costs and byzantine, unilateral terms of service of web hosting entities is another major benefit. You don’t need Facebook, Google, or GoDaddy to publish Web sites.

There is a potential dark side to itty.bitty. The content it converts to a URL could be binary code executed on your machine when your browser expands and renders it. This instant calculator is a benign example. But that Javascript app could just as easily be malware. Keep your web shields up when you click on an itty.bitty URL from an unknown source.

What would you do with itty.bitty? How would you like to see it used?

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Most recent comments on "[FREE] Websites Without Hosting"

Posted by:

10 Jul 2018

I'd most definitely share itty.bitty.site with others but WITHOUT using the Declaration of Independence behind the 'astonished' emoji!!! Thank you

EDITOR'S NOTE: You can "declare your independence" from web hosting services by using Itty.Bitty. Doesn't that deserve a "Wow" emoji?

Posted by:

10 Jul 2018

What about pictures? Can this URL have illustrations? If not it does not seem to be very useful.

Posted by:

10 Jul 2018

Photos? That's my first thought...

Posted by:

10 Jul 2018

Try this... https://bit.ly/2KWgyse

The links are super-long and look weird which means many people won't click them. So you'll have to use a shortener.

Posted by:

11 Jul 2018

Kind of negates the whole 'security' purpose; since you still have to send the link or text it, though.
Inserting an image (example https://tinyurl.com/ycwtmjan) is not a big problem.
But some bad dude may add some fancy malware code within an image, as a machine exploit. [?]

Posted by:

11 Jul 2018

Family tree.

Posted by:

11 Jul 2018

I'd argue it's not a website (without hosting), it closer represents a web *page* you can send a link to which is hosted at itty.bitty.site. (Though that's not entirely right either, the link is the webpage which the itty.bitty site creates for your browser to display.)

Terminology aside, it's pretty cool one can do that all in a URL.

Finally, don't mistype it as ittybitty .com. That's a s*x advertising site.

Posted by:

20 Jul 2018

Since you can't put an actual photo in your mini-web page, you could always put in a link to a photo, for example, a shared photo on a Dropbox account. But it would be fun to be able to have a small pic, too.

Posted by:

20 Jul 2018

@RandiO -- how did you get the image to display in your itty.bitty.site page?

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