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Author Tom Geller demonstrates how to create and publish a complete web site with the powerful tools in Acquia's hosted service, Drupal Gardens. The course shows how to leverage the pre-built page layouts and add custom styling using the ThemeBuilder tool; integrate rich site features, such as surveys, user ratings, and media galleries; and push content to Twitter and Facebook. The course also covers transitioning from a Drupal Gardens site to a self-hosted Drupal site. Exercise files are included with the course.
There is a long-standing debate about how to handle links that lead from your site to some other place. The default behavior is to just go straight to them, and in fact, that's the way things work right now on our site. For example, take a look at these links over here, which go to an off-site feed. If I click any one of them, that page opens in the same screen. I'll go back to my site now. There are several downsides to the default behavior, though. First, by staying in the same screen, you're lowering the likelihood that someone will return to your site after being led away.
Second, someone might believe that they're still on your site as they go elsewhere and then blame you for anything they dislike in that outside site. Making matters worse, there's no way to tell the difference between a link that stays on your site and one that goes elsewhere. Drupal Gardens solves these problems by letting you change these behaviors with a module called External Links. It's off by default, so I'll go ahead and turn it on. Go up to Modules and then go down to External Links. It's in the other group. Turn it on, go to the bottom, and click Save.
To see all your options for External Links, go up to Configuration and then down to External links, here under User Interface. I am going to leave all of these default settings, but you get a pretty good sense of how it works. Basically it places icons next to certain links, so that you can tell that you're leaving the site. There are also some additional options here so that you can change which ones are considered external. But I'll leave it as is and go back to our front page and see what exactly that got us. Now you can see that all of the links that lead off of the site have this little "You are leaving the site" icon, whereas the ones that stay on your site don't have that.
If you click one of these that leads off of the site, it actually warns you. And again, this is configurable, and if you click OK, it opens up a new tab up here before taking you to the site that you want. Then when you close it, you're still on your site in the original tab. I'm kind of a traditionalist, so I am actually going to turn off this feature by disabling the module. Because there's no content associated with it, that's all we have to do. Just go up to Modules, go down to External Links, uncheck the box, scroll to the bottom, and save.
This is one of Drupal Gardens' smaller features, but it's one I really like for the control that it gives you. Now, there is some debate about whether it's a good idea to open new windows for External Links. On the one hand, as I mentioned before, you do keep visitors on your site, but on the other hand, it could make your site seem less reputable, like you're trying to trap people. Before implementing this option, I recommend reading some of those debates, which you can find by searching the Internet for the quote "should links open in new windows," or something similar to that.
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