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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'

(8)

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)

80 Comments
eschiebel
Instructure
Instructure

it simply does what we've been asking for,

And there's the rub. There are multiple opinions on how it should work with different people are asking for different results. The change was made in response to the 150 votes on the suggestion that the "open in a new window" module item directly open in a new window, and that the user not have to click the button. I made that change and a new faction doesn't like that the item opens in a new window.  I am trying to think of an approach that if not satisfy, will least disappoint the most users.

The various behaviors that have been asked for include:

  1. If the item is supposed to open in a new window, then open it directly into a new window without having to click the button.
  2. Keep the page with the previous and next buttons because users like to navigate among the module items that way.
  3. Don't jump into a new window outside canvas.
  4. Jump directly into a new window without navigating to the page with the previous and next buttons 

My compromise solution is to open the external content in a new window while simultaneously navigating to the item's page with the previous and next buttons. 

Some have suggested that the link on the Modules page should simply open the item in a new window, but not navigate to the module item's page. That's simple enough, but (1) is different from all the other links that open the module item's page, and (2) does not provide the prev/next navigation from these type items, (3) what should happen when the Next button is pressed on the previous item?

Would that be satisfactory? I really want to do what's best for the user community.

GideonWilliams
Community Member

Thanks for this detailed response  @eschiebel ‌ and appreciate your efforts here in trying to actually address the issue.

Where abouts can I go to check the changes in action?

erinhmcmillan
Community Team
Community Team

Hi, Gideon,

You can see this functionality in both your beta and production environment. Ensure you have a module external link set to open in a new window and you're good to go. Smiley Happy

Thanks,

Erin

GideonWilliams
Community Member

Thanks erinhallmark

eschiebel
Instructure
Instructure

A proposal:

  • on the Modules page, clicking a "open in a new window" module item link opens the item in a new window, but leaves the Modules page unchanged.
  • clicking on the Next or Previous button from an adjacent module item opens the page with the "Click to open" button, that has to be clicked to open the item. The item opens in a new window.

What do you think?

dbrace
Community Member

That seems acceptable to me.

Something that I brought up in the deploy notes at https://community.canvaslms.com/docs/DOC-18007#comment-153231 is documentation explaining what is happening and also documentation (for each major web browser) in the Canvas Community about how to allow pop-ups and specifically for instructure.com (or whatever an institutions URL is) since most browsers do not allow pop-ups.

James
Community Member

 @eschiebel  

Just to make sure I understand things correctly.

  1. A student who is on the modules page and clicks on an external URL set to load in a new tab will automatically have that open in a new tab and focus shifted to that new tab with the content. There are no pop-up blockers to worry about because the content was executed based off of a user action (click), Canvas would remain on the modules page. What we are giving up is the ability to use the Previous / Next buttons once the external URL is closed.
  2. A student who is navigating using the next / previous buttons would not automatically have the content opened and would have to click the "Open in a new window" button to do this. Because it is based on a user action, then there are no blocked pop-ups to work with.

If so, then it sounds like a win all-around except for some students not knowing which module item they just viewed once they close it. I think that's an acceptable trade-off for not having to mess with pop-ups and potentially not getting the content. It also makes it the behavior more consistent with other external URLs within Canvas -- you open in a new tab, but you're left where you were on the page.

A couple of questions.

Regarding item 1, this still needs to register as a view in the access report and analytics, even though you're not visiting the page directly within Canvas.

Also, I may have missed it, but we are talking only about external URLs and not external tools? When I tested this in beta, external tools acted the same way they have before, so I just wanted to double check

dbrace
Community Member

As long as this (see below) does not happen when on the "Modules" page (or anywhere else and not necessarily related to this specific functionality) when clicking on a tab that is supposed to open in a new tab. If it does happen then documentation for pop-ups and each web browser should be provided.

In general, documentation for pop-ups would be helpful for a variety of features within Canvas..

331419_E26D9DCE-8822-4673-8B55-BD09F41F3790-29743-000014E14D832169.gif

Also, yes, the appropriate access reports and analytics (along with admin-based page views) would need to be included as well.

GideonWilliams
Community Member

This is a much better solution. Staying on the Modules allows flexibility of navigation.

I would quite like this to happen with External Tools too tbh

dbrace
Community Member

I completely agree with external tools. In my opinion, they should always load outside of a Canvas instead of in a frame.

GideonWilliams
Community Member

Used to be the case with the Office365 integration then it went back to the interim page with that button...

mfuller2
New Member

I went into Beta to see what had changed for this. I went into the settings for the Redirect Tool app, and as far as I can tell, nothing has changed there.  I read through the information about the new option, and I'm honestly not sure where the change is that you made. Here are the release notes for whatever was changed in Beta:

External URL Module Items Link

External URL module items set to load in a new tab automatically display to students in a new browser tab.

 

Change Benefit

This change minimizes the number of clicks required to view an external URL module item.

 

Affected User Roles

Instructors

When an external URL item is added to a module, and the Load in a New Tab checkbox is checked in the module item window, users who click the external URL in a module will view the URL in a new tab by default.

 

All Users

Any module item with the external URL icon indicating the link will open in a new window automatically displays in a new tab. Previously the link opened a new window that only displayed a button to view the external content. The button had to be clicked a second time to view the external content.

Can someone point me to what exactly they changed? 

erinhmcmillan
Community Team
Community Team

Hi, Matt,

Douglas Brace created a gif that shows the previous behavior, which no longer exists in either the beta or the production environment since this change was made back in November 2019. As the gif indicates, previously the link opened a new window that only displayed a button to view the external content. The button had to be clicked a second time to view the external content.

Thanks,

Erin

mfuller2
New Member

Ah I see. So the Redirect Tool did not also get fixed... 336174_Link Problem.gif

aashbaugh
New Member

Current behavior is bananas. How confusing is this text to my poor users? They clicked a link, thinking it would open a page, and instead they get a page that says: "This site was opened in a new browser window." What's the deal with that? The text says the opposite of what really happened, since the site was *not* opened in a new browser window at all, but instead opened inside canvas. Here's a screenshot of the silly page.

353526_Screen Shot 2020-07-22 at 3.05.13 PM.png

Please fix, Canvas!

kapp_will
New Member

YESSSS!!  I'm developing a course for an entire year online and I am slowly losing my mind having to push Ctrl-K for every single link so it opens in a new tab.  Save my brain!

hechla
Community Member

I agree with the comments. Users should NOT see a window that states The site was opened in a new window along with a button to actually load the external URL in a new tab. Just clicking the original link should open the item. 

I don't see a way to actually vote for this. 

ErykStacy
New Member

Please allow us to open the external URL directly.

Landmark_Coll
Community Member

@mfuller2 Thanks for your gif. The four pages of comments here seem to be just slightly off topic when it comes to the Redirect Tool. The Redirect Tool has nothing to do with Modules, and there is no purpose of showing an intermediate page when trying to navigate to an external link from the course navigation menu. I wonder if @eschiebel can address this issue with respect to the Redirect Tool.

j_vanbelle
New Member

Thanks for the great ideas. But still ..this issue is not fixed for most of our users (students). So much for the UX of canvas (not my words).

When I choose: "Load in a new tab", then I expect it to open in a new tab.
Users expect behavior similar to normal browser behavior. They don't expect and intermediate page stating: open in a new window... just because this is the Canvas LMS. Ask the students opinion. 99% thinks the same about this issue. And because they are the future, and main end-users... they are right. And a fix should be implemented.

If opinions about a solution (or desired behaviour) are not the same, then just add an extra option that can be checked when adding an external link to a module. E.g. the checkbox : "Really really open in a new tab" ;-).

Most of the time... end-users know better.