A simple URL shortening website that serves as a nice demo application.
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VSTS AppVeyor Travis CI
Visual Studio Team Services AppVeyor Travis CI

Linker is a really simple web-based URL shortening service.


When I set out to create a Pluralsight course about my favorite built tool, Cake, I needed a .NET web application for my demos. The idea of the course was to take an existing web app and show how to use Cake to create a build and deployment pipeline for it from scratch. By the end, you'd have a Cake script that can take the application all the way from source code to running software. That idea eventually became Building and Deploying Applications with Cake, which you can read more about here.

Back to the app. Right off the bat, I had three requirements for it:

  1. Be simple
  2. Be realistic
  3. Don't be boring

In other words, I wanted an app that felt realistic—alas, not the ASP.NET MVC sample application—but also simple enough so not to become a cognitive burden. The last thing you want in a course (or presentation) is to spend half of the time explaining the domain of your demo app to the audience.

Of course, I could have gone for one of the classics like the music collection database or the online pet store we all know too well. But I wanted something fun and, if possible, useful.

You would never guess what I ended up making: a URL shortening service. Meet Linker.


Linker consists of a RESTful API backed by a database and consumed by a web frontend. Here's an overview:

Linker's Architecture

This repository contains the complete source code, with tests and everything. Of course, there's also the complete build and deployment script written with Cake.


Since Cake is cross-platform, Linker should be as well. So I wrote two versions of it:

You'll find the Windows-only version in the master branch, while the cross-platform one is in a branch called netcore.

What to Do with It

Although Linker came into existence to serve the needs of my Pluralsight course Building and Deploying Applications with Cake, it has proven to be equally useful for other educational purposes. In fact, I'll go as far as to say that if you ever need a demo app for a course, a talk or a workshop, you should feel free to use Linker for it. After all, it's just a simple—although complete—ASP.NET web app.

By the way, if you see any way you could improve it, pull requests are always welcome. 🚀

Additional Resources

You can see Linker in action in the following online resources: