The Green Bar of Go: Using External Links

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In this installment of The Green Bar of Go, I’ll be discussing a feature of Cascade Server we don’t cover in our workshops, the External Link.

An External Link is an indexed asset that points to a web page outside of Cascade Server. Any link that is not a page within your site should be turned into an external link. This not only allows you to place them into a dynamically generated navigation, but also makes it easier to manage the URLs if they should change.

Take a look after the jump to see how these are used.

Adding an External Link to Cascade Server

External Links are created using the New >> Default menu, or via any asset factory that you create as a site manager. I’m going to explore creating an external link from the default asset factory. Once you select External Link from the New >> Default menu, you will see this:
New External Link

The interface is pretty straight forward. The Link text box is for the URL of the site. On the System Pane, you’ll give the asset a system name, and the Metadata Pane contains the metadata fields from the Default metadata set. Simply fill out these fields as you wish and click Submit.

When the External Link is created, it will appear in the Asset Tree as shown here:
Google External Link

Adding an External Link Browser to a Data Definition

You can add an External Link browser to a Data Definition to allow users to browse for links to outside sites. For example, if you have a personnel profile page, you could allow linking to external sites. Looking in the Data Definition Schema Reference, it’s not exactly obvious how to add an External Link browser because the terminology used isn’t External Link.

Take a look at the Asset section of the schema:

Asset Schema Reference

The terminology used is Symlink. The code for adding an External Link to a Data Definition would look like this:

<system-data-structure>
<asset identifier="homePage" label="Select Your Home Page" type="symlink"/>
</system-data-structure>

Of course, the typical optional parameters apply (required, multiple, etc.) and can be added anywhere. The above code will generate this Data Definition:
Symlink Data Definition

And that’s it. The External Links are simple to deal with since they’re just another asset inside Cascade Server.

I’m still looking for more suggestions for column topics. Upcoming articles will include integrating Flash media into a page and structuring data using Data Definitions, but if you would like to see a specific topic covered, leave a comment and I’ll see what I can do!

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