On his blog today Kevin van Zonneveld shows how to create short URLs for your content and store them in a MySQL database.
IDs are often numbers. Unfortunately there are only 10 digits to work with, so if you have a lot of records, IDs tend to get very large. For computers that's OK. But human beings like their IDs as short as possible. So how can we make IDs shorter? Well, we could borrow characters from the alphabet as have them pose as additional numbers.... Alphabet to the rescue!
He includes some sample code that takes the shortened code and converts it back down to the correct ID and returns it out of the function. The trick compresses values down into shorter alpha-numeric strings that can make for simpler links (and smaller messages for things like twitter).