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Zero Width Shortener (ZWS)

Number of shortened URLs Number of visited URLs ZWS version

Shorten URLs with invisible spaces.

Try it out online: (or with our CLI).

You could also host your own private instance and use any characters you'd like (a-z, emoji, etc).


Code Contributors

This project exists thanks to all the people who contribute. Code contributors

Special thanks to Jaex for integrating ZWS into ShareX.

Financial Contributors

Become a financial contributor and help us sustain our community. [Contribute]


Individual contributors


Support this project with your organization. Your logo will show up here with a link to your website. [Contribute]

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Status page

A status page for the official instance of ZWS is available at



Deploy to Heroku

Running an instance of ZWS on Heroku is the easiest way to self-host. You can also stay totally within the free limits of both the web process and the Heroku Postgres database. Note that the Hobby Dev (free) plan of Heroku Postgres has a row limit of 10,000, which might not be enough for your use case. Consider using the API key feature of ZWS to restrict access to your instance.


Deploy to DO

We provide a template app specification YAML file to allow users to launch an instance on the DigitalOcean App Platform.

Docker Compose

  1. Clone the repository
  2. Copy db.example.env to db.env and fill in the values
  3. Copy example.env to .env and update the DATABASE_URL environment variable to match the values in db.env
  4. Remember to change the hostname of the database container to db - trying to use localhost will not work
  5. Run docker-compose up -d (this will automatically apply database migrations)

Database migrations

Database migrations are automatically applied on Heroku and Docker Compose. You can easily run database migrations manually through Docker Compose by running the following command:

docker-compose up migration

Make sure the DATABASE_URL environment variable in .env is accurate.

Heroku Postgres

If you are hosting your instance on Heroku, migrations are automatically applied. If you need to manually apply migrations or are only using Heroku for your database you'll need the credentials for your database:

  1. Get the Heroku Postgres connection URI from
  2. Create a .env file and enter in the connection URI



Afterward you can run the migration commands shown above.


ZWS instances expose two routes that implement the Shields endpoint schema:

Image Route Description Example
Number of shortened URLs /stats/shields/urls Number of shortened URLs
Number of visited URLs /stats/shields/visits Number of visited URLs
ZWS version /stats/shields/version ZWS version