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Automatically open new tab for links/external tools set to 'Load in a new tab'

Automatically open new tab for links/external tools set to 'Load in a new tab'

(2)

Previously under the title "Link to External URL"

When linking to an external url that Canvas will not (or cannot) embed, link should automatically open in a new tab or window.  Currently, Canvas opens another page saying you have to open it in a new tab, then you have to click that link to do that.  Why not just go directly to that page in a new tab?  Links in other locations already do this.

If Canvas is worried a user would be confused by being outside of Canvas suddenly, perhaps they could flash a redirect page saying they are leaving the course and to close this tab to return, or something along those lines.  

Comments from Instructure


New behavior governing external tool links was released to production in November 2019. For more information, please read through the Canvas Deploy Notes (2019-11-20)

77 Comments
ybakos
Surveyor
ageiger-fields
Community Member

This needs to happen!

ageiger-fields
Community Member

Yess!!

GideonWilliams
Adventurer II

I don't know if this is purely a technical issue.

It would be nice to have someone commenting on why something which (to the non-technical) seems fairly straightforward has not been implemented.

Does anyone know just exactly how complex this task is?

rodger-ling
Surveyor

This ridiculous issue has been driving me NUTS as I try  to fix a huge collection of broken links in one of our courses.  I admit, it can be a little confusing in the mobile environment when a site opens in a new tab, but that's only because mobile browsers don't handle tabs well.  The Canvas solution of warning the user accomplishes nothing to help in that situation. On a computer, it's insane to have to click twice to get to a link!

peter_bloor
Community Member

Just to add that in the app, the button and text instruction are off screen, meaning users have to know to scroll (horizontally) to find the button for the extra click.

Most just assume they have come to a content-less page or there has been an error.

Stefanie
Community Team
Community Team

 @peter_bloor ‌, would you please initiate a separate feature idea relating to the mobile app (Canvas Student) about this? It would need to be a request to make the page responsive so people didn’t have to scroll horizontally on a phone. Thanks.

peter_bloor
Community Member

Hi stefaniesanders

That's done now. My first Canvas idea - how exciting Smiley Happy

https://community.canvaslms.com/ideas/14390-responsive-mobile-app-page-to-avoid-horizontal-scrolling

Please let me know if I've missed something.

Thanks

BradMoser
Adventurer

Funny....I tried to VOTE this up again!  @tokheimc 

rodger-ling
Surveyor

The idea doesn't seem to be getting much traction but it still bugs me: so clunky and just plain wrong to have to click twice to get a single piece of content. I suspect the issue is philosophical rather than technical since it's simple HTML to open in a new tab. Canvas knows the size of the browser and could easily adapt to something different for mobile devices if that's the rub. As developers of the course, we should be given a choice as developers of a course as to whether we open in a new tab or not on screens where that works well. 

GideonWilliams
Adventurer II

At the risk of repeating myself, any sort of communication from Instructure on this idea and he reasons behind the existing setup would be welcome.

Interestingly enough, aspects of the Office365 integration eg Cloud Assignment now no longer open in window but are accessible via the dreaded click on this button, interim step...

mfuller2
Surveyor

It's nice to see this has been getting some more traction lately. I've had this up since 2017, and it still has never really been addressed. Just open in a new tab for goodness sake! Make it user friendly!!!

edies
Community Member

The fact that this option opens in Canvas instead of the actual external website is causing another problem for our course that I haven't seen mentioned yet.  We require our students to access an online textbook (the external link) before unit modules unlock in canvas with assessments.  When students click through the link it actually connects their Canvas information and the online textbook. However, because the locking options basically only require the students to look at the page Canvas opens to with the link, there is no way to require that they click the link.  The modules simply unlock after they visit the page...or click the Mark as Done button, which also doesn't require that they actually click the link.

mmccain
Community Member

Please make links open automatically.  Having to press another button to open an external is link is a pointless step.  Yes.. the user experience is most important.  It can be done.  Someone needs to figure it out.

eschiebel
Instructure
Instructure

Canvas engineer here. The fix is not difficult. I am working to understand why it is the way it is so it can be changed without any unexpected side-effects.

GideonWilliams
Adventurer II

If that is the case, then this would be awesome! Super response. Many thanks from everyone here!

RobDitto
Navigator

Thanks,  @eschiebel ! I've been wondering about whether a change to this might fit with implementing LTI Advantage Deep Linking service (and, in particular, a content item which, once saved in RCE content or module item, is meant to launch an LTI tool).

eschiebel
Instructure
Instructure

As with anything that seems simple at first, there are subtle complications.

  1. student clicks on the external url module item
  2. the browser goes to the module item's page (the one with the button to open in a new tab + prev and next module item buttons), and simultaneously opens the url in a new tab and puts the user in that tab. (so far, this seems reasonable)
  3. student goes back to the canvas tab and click on the prev (or next) button
  4. canvas shows the corresponding module item
  5. student clicks on the next (or prev) button to go back to the external url item

now what?

My proposal is that

  1. the external url is re-opened in the same tab as before, and puts the user in that tab
  2. if the student returns to the module item's page and clicks the "open in a new tab" button, the external url is opened in the same tab as before.
  3. if there are multiple external url module items, they each get their own tab

Does that seem like a good solution? Is there something I'm missing? A better approach?

mfuller2
Surveyor

Here's the way I would use this feature... Let's say a student is in an assignment, and I have created an external link in their navigation on the left for them to click on to go to some common sight outside of Canvas. For example, I have a link there right now that allows them to go directly into my Webex room and get additional help from me. I don't need that link to open inside of Canvas, I just need it open a new tab in the browser when they click on the link. Every use I've come up with so far has been that way. Perhaps other would like something to open directly inside of Canvas, but for me that is just an extra step. 

Now if I were creating a link in my navigation that is going to another canvas page... I don't see why it couldn't just open in another tab or at least have the option of opening another tab in exactly the same way. This way they're not losing where they're at in Canvas at the time they open the link.

ybakos
Surveyor

Thank you for the engagement on this. To answer your question: No, please no. Just the following:

1. Student clicks on the "external url module item" and a new tab immediately appears with the contents of that external url. The original tab does not change its window location, period.

External links that are marked to "open in a new window" should work exactly the way they do on the rest of the web, when an href has a target="_blank".

To simulate what I mean, create an "external url module item" and right-click or control click on the link, and select "open in new tab." Observe that a new tab opens with the contents of that url, and the original window location does not change.