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A dive into the history (and future) of shortcuts

Expanding the scope of internal tools: The story of go links
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Google, Netflix, Facebook, LinkedIn, Stripe - they have more in common than the fact that they’re all multi-billion dollar companies. 

They have a little secret that we happened to chance upon on our quest to make collaboration seamless. 

They all use shortcuts or simple human-readable words to access links in place of long URLs.

So your insurance policy can be accessed by using x/insurance instead of something this complicated —

The benefits of Shortcuts

Work, and therefore life, gets simpler. For one, you don’t have to remember where you’ve saved the file. You can create a shortcut for just about any URL across any app—Notion, Figma, Zoom, Google Docs, Slides, Confluence, or others—for you and your team. 

Second, you don’t have to hunt down a URL in your Slack threads, notes, emails, or wait for eons for someone to send it to you. You wish to get to a page? You can intuitively do so in less than a second. 

These shortcuts are typically private to the organization, meaning that members of the organization—company, school, etc—need to join a workspace in order to use them with a team. 

We know what you are thinking. That’s pretty cool! Right? We thought so too and decided to find out where the brilliant idea came from.

How did these shortcuts become popular?

They were introduced back in 2009 when Nick Young developed GoLinks application for North Carolina State University. 

Here’s the blog Nick Young had written about his project once he released the final version. 

Around the same time, Benjamin Staffin developed go links for Google where Google employees could shorten any link and access it using go/keyword. 

Go links completely changed how links were accessed and shared within Google. In fact, when employees or Xooglers left Google in pursuit of new opportunities, they reminisced about the wonderful internal tools they had left behind, mainly go links.

Not surprisingly, when Marissa Mayer left Google in 2012 to join Yahoo, she developed shortcuts for Yahoo called yo links. Similarly, multiple people took go links to the companies they joined later, realizing how much they had grown to rely on them.

Between 2011 and 2015, software engineers joined other companies and created a similar internal application for their place of work. From Google, go links made its way all around Silicon Valley. 

Netflix, Linkedin, Yahoo, Facebook, Stripe, Paypal, Uber, JP Morgan, Airbnb, Mixpanel, Nextdoor, and others became fervent users of their own versions of go links. 

The acceptance of a new way of working and its mass adoption was aided by the fact that internally facing software is commonplace in these companies. These tech giants often employ internal tools that can make their processes more efficient, save time, and increase productivity.

For example, Stripe built Home, a company-wide platform that features events and calendars. Google is home to countless internal tools such as Issue Tracker, a tool used to identify bugs and feature requests during product development. 

However, internal tools are often restricted in functionality and can only operate within the company network. That greatly limits their use case. 

There are a few open-source platforms that hoped to take go links to the rest of the world. However, their installation was tricky and they failed to create layers into their product that would entice organizations to adopt it right away. 

Enter OSlash - the future of shortcuts

We wanted to create shortcuts as a service, ready to be used by organizations of all sizes with a simple download of the browser extension. OSlash allows you to create a shortcut with a single click of the extension for the entire workplace, for the team, or just for you.

OSlash shortcuts are built to follow you everywhere you are working—from multiple devices & Slack to different text editors. 

We’ve ensured OSlash comes with minimum installation effort, complete security, fast performance, and features that continue to surprise.

To everyone's delight, OSlash makes sure you no longer have to spin your wheels sifting through the myriad docs and apps to find information. So for an enterprise-ready go links solution, head to OSlash to power knowledge-sharing and boost productivity for everyone in your team. 

Because while go links may have made history, OSlash is here to script the future of work - one shortcut at a time.

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