Including telephone number in short links

Sending out SMS links is very common, and it is often interesting to know who clicked the link in the SMS. Since the web browser does not know what phone it is running on - a unique ID is needed for each SMS. It is possible to use an URL shortner like ( that makes links like this .

URL-Shortener limitations

However using URL-Shorteners has some limitations:

Encode number as short string

To solve this issues and still keep the number information - you may encode the number as an encoded string. This way a number like 723175800 can be coded as "SWcuk" and put in an example url like: http://sortu.rl/SWcuk

"SWcuk" can then be decoded to the original number with a simple self contained function. No access to a database is needed.



Example of implementation in python

alphabet = "0123456789ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZabcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz_-~=+/.!&"
charscount = len(alphabet)

def encode(n):
    n = int(n) 
    encoded = ''
    while n > 0:
        n, r = divmod(n, charscount)
        encoded = alphabet[r] + encoded
    return encoded

def decode(s):
    decoded = 0
    while len(s) > 0:
        decoded = decoded * charscount + alphabet.find(s[0])
        s = s[1:]
    return str(decoded)

Example of implementation in PHP

function encode($number){
    $alphabet = "0123456789ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZabcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz_-~=+/.!&";
    $charscount = strlen($alphabet);
    $number = intval($number);
    while($number > 0){
        $reminder = $number % $charscount;
        $number = intval($number/$charscount);
        $encoded = substr($alphabet,$reminder,1).$encoded;
    return $encoded;

function decode($string){
    $alphabet = "0123456789ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZabcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz_-~=+/.!&";
    $charscount = strlen($alphabet);
    $number = 0;
    while(strlen($string) > 0){
        $number = $number * $charscount + strpos($alphabet,substr($string,0,1));
        $string = substr($string,1);

    return $number;

Hashids generate short unique ids from integers in a similar way.

Written 2016-06-13 by Martin Harari Thuresson