Too many tabs on the website?

Occasionally one of our website visitors comments on the number of tabs/windows the Library website creates during a session.  In some situations it can seem overwhelming, but there is  method in our madness …

In general we use the following rule: if you follow a link to a page on our website, then the link will open in the current window. If you follow a link to a page outside the Library website, then the link will open in a new tab or window.

Ideally we would prefer to open all links in the same window and let the user decide whether or not to open a new tab/window (using a mouse right click). However, many of the resources we point to require authentication via Shibboleth. Once you go through Shibboleth, it is impossible to use your browser’s back button to get back to where you started from.

So, if we were to open a link requiring Shibboleth authentication in the same window, and for whatever reason that login failed, you would be left stranded with no active web page. Likewise,  once you finished with the linked resource, you would have no way of navigating back to the Library website.

Of course this problem does not occur with every external link, but we think it is more consistent and less confusing to apply the same rule for all.

On a related note, some people have experienced problems opening pdf files – they click on the link expecting the document to appear only to discover it has been downloaded to their computer instead.

Whether a file should be displayed or downloaded is determined by the browser, and, at the time of writing, there seems to be a mix of behaviours. Using the currently installed Chrome or Internet Explorer, the pdf will open in a new tab/window. Using FireFox, the file will always download (even if you right click and select “open in a new tab”). There may be other variations using other browsers – we can’t check them all!

I stress “at the time of writing” because it is quite possible that the current browser behaviour will change without warning with the next version release.

The good news is that, for now at least, you can get your preferred pdf handling by selecting the appropriate browser.



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