Have you been wondering what the aka.ms URLs we've been posting on Twitter and elsewhere are all about? They come from a Microsoft URL-shortening service. Not only does it allow us to shorten URLs to the minimum characters possible, it also creates vanity URLs that are easier to remember! Note, although it's not a public service (short URL creation is internal), but once they're created, these short URLs are available externally.
A common way to find content is by using Bing, The Decision Engine (<shameless plug!> We love what our friends at Bing are doing!) or other search engines.
For example, to search Exchange cmdlets like New-RetentionPolicyTag, you would either enter the cmdlet name or keywords in a search engine (or the search box in your browser, or the address bar in the browser – now that most browsers are getting rid of the search box as well). If you wanted to get more targeted search results, for example from a particular web site like microsoft.com, you’d type site:microsoft.com in that search box.
Tip: Want to search only topics in the Exchange TechNet Library? Add site:technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library to your search. For example:Exchange 2010 Personal Archives site:technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library
Note, the en-us in Exchange Technet Library content URLs refers to content for your locale. Exchange 2010 SP1 help content is published in 11 languages. Exchange Online – what you see on help.outlook.com, is available in 55 languages. Here's the list of languages and the corresponding culture ID for Exchange 2010 SP1 content:
If you remove the en-usor other culture ID from the URL, you'll be redirected to a version of the page based on your browser's culture ID. Alternatively, you can replace the culture ID in a URL to one of the above to access Exchange content in that language. For example:
Once you find the content you're looking for, and want to come back to the page again, you create a bookmark or favorite in your browser. This works for many of us, although if you have too many bookmarks or use different computers or browsers, more effort is required to keep them organized. Utilities and web services are available to help you manage bookmarks.
With the new vanity URLs, you can reach the topics directly – without having to use a bookmark, without using a search engine, and without having to remember and type a super-long URL. Of course, it can't be very efficient if you had to remember all the short URLs! We've tried to make these intuitive and close to what you may use as a search term in many cases.
Here are examples of short URLs:
PowerShell cmdlet names are formatted as verb-noun combinations separated by a dash (-). The verb part is generally: Get to retrieve an object, New to create an object, Set to modify an object and Remove to remove an object. Some other verbs (not an extensive list): Enable, Disable, Test, Import, Export, Clear, Suspend, Resume, Connect, Disconnect, Restore, Move, Update, Mount, Dismount and Search. The noun part is the object you're trying to retrieve (Get), create (New), modify (Set), remove or test – for example, Mailbox, MailboxDatabase, MailContact, MailUser, PublicFolder, ExchangeCertificate, RetentionPolicyTag, etc.
The cmdlet help topics contain the same help content you'd see in the Shell on your Exchange server (or remote Shell session from an admin workstation). These topics are under Exchange 2010 Cmdlets – every single Exchange 2010 cmdlet you can use.
Here are some examples of short URLs to get to cmdlet topics. I'm not listing all of them here, but once you get the hang of it, you'll be able to figure these out.
Tip Exchange cmdlet help topics list all parameters for a cmdlet, including the parameter type, and whether it's a required or an optional parameter. To get a list of all parameters for a cmdlet from the shell, use the following command:(Get-Command <cmdlet>).Parameters
Exchange help topics are separated into conceptual topics and procedures. Conceptual topics generally start with the word Understanding, followed by the feature you're trying to understand. For example, Understanding Multi-Mailbox Search. These are located under top level nodes, generally the server role (Transport, Mailbox) or feature area (High Availability and Site Resilience, Messaging Policy and Compliance, Security, etc.).
I've listed short URLs to a few topics. The http:// prefix has been removed because most browsers add it automatically. I've also removed the domain and forward slash (aka.ms/) so only the keyword or tag (the part after the /) is listed here. Think of it as the Exchange Short URLs Tag Cloud. (When using one of these, you'll need to prefix it with aka.ms/.)
Hover over the links to find out the topic title these lead to!
Once again, more short URLs are being added, particularly for cmdlet help, so the above is not a complete list but it should give you a fair idea. Next time you want to go to an Exchange doc, try the short URL first and see if what you've remembered (or come up with) matches what we've used! If they're not the same, let us know and if the keyword isn't already taken we'll add the shortcut.
Note: Unlike the FWLink links we use to direct you to pages external to Exchange documentation, including to many downloads on the Download Center, the aka.ms short URLs are unmanaged. FWLink links are maintained and updated by the content team - if the target web page is permanently moved or removed, we'll update them. We wouldn't recommend using the aka.ms short URLs to link from your web site, blog or other content. They're convenient for locating content quickly and posting on social networking sites.
Let us know what you think about these short URLs, and if they do help you get to Exchange content faster!
This post and the tag cloud will be updated as we add more short URLs. To come back to this blog post and check out the "short url tag cloud", all you need to remember is aka.ms/exchangeurls (or just aka.ms/exurls).