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A library for generating and storing short keys.

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Shorten is a MIT licensed Python library for storing your data with automatically generated keys. Use your choice of backend: in-memory, Redis and Memcached are supported by default.

I made this library after being unable to find anything satisfactory for URL shortening. Shorten contains no clever tricks or obfuscated schemes that produce unmaintainable code.

It’s gevent-safe, so you can use it with Gunicorn and Heroku (and consequently Flask, Django, Pyramid). Currently, it is neither threadsafe nor multiprocess safe.


Install with pip:

$ pip install shorten

Shorten uses redis-py as its Redis client and it will be downloaded automatically. This dependency may be removed in a future version.


If you want to run the tests, install the requirements in requirements.txt:

$ virtualenv --no-site-packages .python && source .python/bin/activate
$ pip install -r requirements.txt

The memcached and libevent (for gevent) development libraries are required. For Debian-based systems, try:

$ apt-get install python-dev libmemcached-dev libevent-dev


Full documentation is available at


Create a store which automatically generates keys for your values.

from shorten import MemoryStore

store = MemoryStore()
key, token = store.insert('aardvark')

# True
key in store

# 'aardvark'

Values can be deleted from the store by revoking them with the returned revokation token. The default token is the same as the returned key.

from shorten import MemoryStore

store = MemoryStore()
key, token = store.insert('bonobo')

del store[token]

# False
key in store

# KeyError

The included stores are gevent-safe, meaning that values can be inserted from multiple greenlets without fear of duplicate keys.

import gevent

from shorten import alphabets
from shorten import MemoryStore

values = (

store = MemoryStore(alphabet=alphabets.HEX, start=9)
jobs = [gevent.spawn(store.insert, value) for value in values]


# '9'
# 'a'
# 'c'
# 'b'
# 'd'
for job in jobs:
   key, token = job.value


For a working example of URL shortening website, see

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