Canvas Release Notes - Effective April 25, 2015
Upcoming Canvas Changes: Google Drive API
Google has deprecated the Google Docs API used in Canvas features such as submitting a Google doc to an assignment and Google collaborations. Users who have previously connected their Canvas and Google accounts will be prompted to re-authorize their connection, either by accessing Collaborations or a Google Docs assignment submission, or by manually re-enabling Google as a web service in their personal settings.
On June 6, 2015, the following changes will be made in Canvas:
Differentiated Assignments (by section) will no longer be a Feature Option in Canvas and will be enabled for all Canvas users as a standard feature. Learn more about Differentiated Assignments.The new Files interface (Better File Browsing) will no longer be a Feature Option in Canvas and will be enabled for all Canvas users as a standard feature. This change will enable New Files on the course and user levels. Learn more about New Files.
Assignments: Anonymous Peer Reviews
This release is the first part of this feature. Hiding the submitting student’s name from the reviewer will be part of a future update.
Instructors can choose to create peer reviews with anonymous responses. Located in the Peer Review options for assignments and graded discussions, the Anonymity option allows instructors to hide the name of the student reviewer from the student with the submission.
The student whose work has been reviewed cannot see the name of the reviewer. However, instructors can always view the name of the student reviewer in SpeedGrader and on the student submission page.
Assignments: Assignment Shell Date Validation
In the January 31 release, Canvas introduced date validations for new and edited assignments. Now, due date validations also apply to Assignment shells, which act as a placeholder for an assignment until an instructor creates the assignment details.
After an instructor saves the information for an assignment shell, Canvas validates the due date against the course start and end dates and generates an error message for an invalid date entry.
- If the assignment does not contain a due date, the assignment availability defaults to the course start and end dates.
- If the course does not include specified course start and end dates, Canvas validates the due date against the term dates for the course.
This feature validates against the Users can only participate in the course between these dates checkbox for start and end dates in Course Settings.
Discussions: SpeedGrader Link
In Graded Discussions, when a user clicks the SpeedGrader link, SpeedGrader opens in a new tab. This change aligns SpeedGrader with the same behavior as in assignments and quizzes.
Notifications: Email Processor for Hard-Bounced Communication Warnings
Canvas includes an email processor that moderates the number of times communication channels bounce, which means the channel cannot generate or deliver a notification. Soft bounces are not affected in the count as they are temporary bounces that usually occur when the recipient's mailbox is full or if the server is not currently available. Canvas only keeps track of hard bounces, which are more permanent and are usually caused by invalid addresses (created by address typos, etc.).
Once Canvas sends a specific message notification, if the notification reaches a hard-bounced communication channel, that specific notification will never be sent again. Once a communication channel has bounced three times (with three distinct notification messages), the user’s account is flagged, and the user will receive a warning about the bounced channel. Until the channel is corrected, the email processor will no longer send any notifications to that channel.
When a user is in the User Settings page, Canvas displays a warning icon next to the bounced contact method.
When a user is viewing any Canvas page, Canvas displays a warning banner at the top of the user’s browser window.
Note: The banner warning is only displayed if the bounced email was added manually by the user. If a user’s email address was added by the institution via SIS import, Canvas only displays warning icons on the User Settings page.
To correct the error, users should remove and re-add the method to their profile.
- If a valid email address is flagged, reset the processor by changing the email address, then change it back to the original address.
- If a default email address is flagged, add a new email address as a temporary default, then correct the error with the existing email.
Rich Content Editor: Menu Bar
In the Rich Content Editor, the Editor supports ALT+F9 (PC) or ALT+FN+F9 (MAC) as a keyboard shortcut for the menu bar. This shortcut provides better accessibility to menu commands for keyboard and screen reader users.
Accessibility prompt message use the Canvas blue color scheme and standard CSS class. Accessibility messages are shown in Discussions (pinned list), Assignments, People (Groups list), Calendar, and Quizzes (question group reordering).
The Settings Menu (in any Canvas feature area) is keyboard accessible by clicking the Tab key.
The Find Course and Find User fields include labels for screen readers.
The Assignments Move-To option returns focus to the Settings menu.
Due date and related fields each contain a label that is read by screen readers before each applicable field.
The Edit Assignment page and the Peer Review section includes format context for the date fields and screen-reader only labels.
The Calendar Week and Month views include revised text directing keyboard users to the Agenda View.
The Scheduler includes format context for the date fields and a screen-reader only label.
The Calendar and Edit Calendar options includes format context for the date fields and screen-reader only labels.
The Close buttons within conversation lists are more friendly to keyboard users and retain focus on the next element in the list.
Recipient fields are hidden in Conversations until a course has been selected. The course menu also indicates that a course selection is required before entering recipients.
Screen readers can read the name of the user who is being removed from a conversation.
Screen readers can read the All Courses and Inbox drop-down menus.
Deleted Selected and Archive Selected include header descriptions to indicate messages that are being deleted.
Discussions Subscribe icons retain focus for keyboard users.
The Add Discussion button is labeled as a button for screen readers.
The Select All checkbox is not marked as a column header.
The Student Grades page includes row and column scopes.
In the Individual View Gradebook, the Set Default Grade button includes a label for screen readers and retains focus on the next appropriate element.
In the Individual View Gradebook, the Download all Submissions button retains keyboard focus.
In the Individual View Gradebook, when viewing Submission Details, focus is retained on the close button. After updating the grade or adding a comment, the window will close.
After creating a new Group Set, the Save button retains focus for keyboard users.
After creating a new group within a Group Set, the Save button retains focus for keyboard users.
The Add Group Set button is focused after the Group tabs for keyboard users.
The Group self sign-up option is focused after the Add Group and Settings menu for keyboard users.
Keyboard users can manage playback for embedded videos using keyboard commands.
Keyboard users create new pages with the Add Pages button.
The status icons (Publish or Unpublish) retain keyboard focus.
The Close Page icon and the Close Edit Page icon retain their respective keyboard focus.
In Settings, the Use as Front Page option retains keyboard focus.
Sorting the page list on the Pages Index Page retains keyboard focus.
Screen readers can read the correct order of matching question results.
Matching selection boxes include question labels for screen readers.
The Quiz Attempt History table includes labels for all columns, except for the first column, which includes a row header label.
The Flag Question option can be accessed by keyboard users.
Generate Possible Solution options include labels for screen readers.
Editing a quiz answer retains focus on the Edit icon.
The Correct Answer indicator arrow includes alt text for screen readers.
Screen readers and keyboard users can read all question text while taking a quiz.
Quiz Restrictions include textbox labels for screen readers.
Quiz radio buttons and checkboxes do not include aria-hidden attributes.
Quiz Groups are marked as headings by screen readers.
Question headers are not read twice by screen readers.
Multiple choice questions include aria labels to define question text and answers.
The Create/Edit Quiz pages include format context for the date fields and a screen-reader only label.
Rich Content Editor
The Rich Content Editor outlines menu bar items when enabled by keyboard commands.
The Show Rubric option includes a title label. Additionally, the description of a criterion can be read by screen readers.
Files API and Mobile Apps
Users can view Canvas files on the Canvas by Instructure apps.
Explanation: When a user tried to view a course file on the Canvas by Instructure app, the app displayed a 401 error page. This behavior occurred because of authentication errors caused by the file path name. Canvas code has been updated to add the context route for files in the Files API.
Announcements: Announcement RSS Feed
The Announcement RSS Feed shows the latest 15 items.
Explanation: When 16 or more announcements were in the announcement RSS feed, only the oldest 15 items were showing. This behavior occurred because of miscommunication in display logic. Canvas code has been updated to always display the RSS feed unless the user is unauthorized and to define the most recent announcements based on description.
Assignments: Text Entry Submissions
Text Entry Submissions do not allow blank text submissions.
Explanation: When a student submitted <p></p> for a text entry submission, Canvas accepted the submission. In SpeedGrader, instructors could see the submission time, but the submission still showed the message stating the student had not submitted the assignment. This behavior occurred because Canvas created a submission object with an unsubmitted workflow state. Canvas code has been updated to validate submission text entries.
Students: View Rubric
Students can view the longer description of a rubric in their assignments.
Explanation: In an assignment rubric, when students clicked the option to view the longer description, a popup window appeared with an option to update the description. If a student tried to update the description, the View Longer Description button disappeared from the criterion until the page was refreshed. This behavior occurred because the Update Description button was displaying regardless of permissions for any rubric. Canvas code has been updated to verify permissions and hide the Update Description button when a rubric is not being edited.
The Calendar displays due dates when editing a graded discussion
Explanation: When a user edited a graded discussion in the calendar and selected the More Options button, the due date did not appear. This behavior occurred because the due date was not retained between the discussion pages. Canvas code has been updated to find any previous forms with the due date when editing a graded discussion.
Numerical Error Margin Decimals
Numerical Answer questions with an error margin with four or more decimal points import properly into a new course.
Explanation: When an instructor created a quiz with a Numerical Answer question error margin with four or more decimal points, then imported the quiz into another course, the question showed the error margin with additional decimal points. This behavior occurred because of the integration used for decimal rounding. Canvas code has been updated to support numeric error margins with arbitrary precision and size.
Direct Module Links
Module page links added with the Rich Content Editor display correctly after copying the course.
Explanation: When an instructor created a Module page link through the Rich Content Editor and then exported the course, a course import would cause the Module link to break and display a page error. This behavior occurred because the direct link was not translating correctly to the new course URL. Canvas code has been updated to copy the module from the previous course and update the module item with the module ID and course copy ID.
Dashboard To-Do List Icons in Internet Explorer
In Internet Explorer, the Dashboard to-do list icons display the same size as in all other browsers.
Explanation: When users in Internet Explorer viewed their to-do list in the Dashboard, the check mark icons were displaying smaller than in other browsers. This behavior occurred because of the image encoding for the Dashboard page. Canvas code has been updated with new page encoding for the six icons.
Discussions: Embedded Images
Users at institutions that use vanity URLs can view images in discussion posts.
Explanation: When a user embedded an image in a discussion reply, the full URL to the image was being inserted after the page refresh instead of just referencing the relative URL for the image (i.e. /courses/123456/files/123). For institutions using vanity URLs, the image URL would break the link to the image, which created a 401 Unauthorized message. This behavior only occurred for institutions using vanity URLs, which is a URL that redirects to the institution’s Canvas URL as [institution].instructure.com. Canvas code has been updated to create a placeholder for the files location and replace the placeholder when calling the image content with the API.
Files in Concluded Courses
Instructors can always view Files in a concluded course.
Explanation: Instructors were not able to view Files in a concluded course if the Files link in Course Navigation had been hidden from students. This behavior was caused by a change in the April 4 release, which allowed instructors in concluded courses to only view the same items available to students. Canvas code has been updated to confirm user role permissions and allow instructors to always view Files for a course.
Files: Downloadable Locked Files
Users cannot view hidden files as part of a folder download ZIP file.
Explanation: When Better File Browsing is enabled and a subfolder contained content thatwas hidden from student view, downloading the subfolder within the main folder allowed students to access the hidden content. This behavior occurred because hidden files (available with link) were included as part of the download process. Canvas code has been updated to exclude hidden files from student downloads.
Files: Usage Rights for Course Files in Personal Files
In an instructor’s personal files, setting a usage right for a course file applies to the file.
Explanation: When instructors viewed their course files from their personal files, setting a usage right for a course file was not applying to the actual file. Although the banner on the browser page stated the file had been changed, the change had no effect on the file. This behavior occurred because usage rights was not coded to apply to course files. Canvas code has been updated to reflect usage rights changes to Course Files in the Personal Files view.
Files: Files in Beta and Test Environments
Files attached to discussions in beta and test reference the correct environment.
Explanation: When a file was attached to a discussion in the beta or test environments, the file was referencing the production environment domain. This behavior occurred because the file ID in the URL referred to the actual file in production; if the file ID did not exist in production, the file created a page error. Canvas code has been updated to create a placeholder for the environment location and replace the placeholder when calling the discussion content with the API.
Files: Locked Media File Previews
Students cannot view previews for locked media files.
Explanation: When an instructor locked a media file, such as an .mp4 or .mov, and students tried to access the file, students were able to view the file. This behavior occurred because previews were not limited by media type. Canvas code has been updated to restrict locked media file previews to students.
Gradebook: Email Notifications
Gradebook uploads do not generate notifications for students whose grades were not modified.
Explanation: After an instructor uploaded changes to the Gradebook via CSV, all students received a gradebook notification, even students who had no changes to their grade. This behavior occurred because Canvas was notifying students unless the file contained unrecognized or ignored assignments. Canvas code has been updated to only update students whose submissions changed in the CSV file.
Gradebook: Comments in Muted Assignments
If an assignment is muted, students cannot view any comments or attachments by their instructor.
Explanation: When an instructor left a comment or an attachment on a muted assignment, students were able to open the Submission Details page and view the comment or attachment. This behavior occurred because Canvas didn’t consider if the assignment was muted. Canvas code has been updated to hide comments from the submission details page if the assignment is muted.
Groups: Locked Group Discussions
If a user tries to access a locked group discussion, the URL redirects back to the course.
Explanation: When a group discussion was part of a module requirement but was locked by the instructor, students who clicked the link to the discussion were being redirected to the group instead of back to the course Modules page. This behavior occurred because the group discussion was associated by group ID, not the course ID. Canvas code has been updated to redirect students back to the course Module.
Groups: Group Assignment Edits
Instructors can edit group assignments that have submissions and are associated with a deleted group set.
Explanation: When an instructor tried to edit an assignment that contained student submissions and was associated with a deleted group set, Canvas displayed a message explaining the assignment could not be edited. This behavior occurred because Canvas was not validating the state of the group set. Canvas code has been updated to disregard submissions associated with a deleted group set.
Groups: Group Discussion RSS Feed
In Group Discussions, replies are included in the RSS podcast feed.
Explanation: In Group Discussions, users were not able to view replies in the RSS feed unless the Include Replies in Podcast Feed option was checked as part of the main course discussion. This behavior occurred because the group discussion RSS feed was not associated correctly with the course discussion. Canvas code has been updated to remove the option to include replies in Group Discussions; student replies will always be included in group discussion podcasts.
Users can view multiple media comments in Canvas.
Explanation: When a user tried to view multiple media comments on one page, only the first media comment would load. All additional media files would not play until they had been fully downloaded. This behavior occurred because of a conflict with multiple media players in the browser. Canvas code has been updated to remove preloading requirements and allow multiple media players on the page.
Modules: Unpublished Modules in Pages
Students cannot access modules that are unpublished.
Explanation: When a student clicks on a Module that was linked in the Rich Content Editor, if the module was later unpublished, the students viewed a page error. This behavior occurred because the link reference was not coded to verify whether the user was authorized to view the file, so it created a general page error. Canvas code has been updated to verify authorization for viewing modules.
Modules: Modules with Greater than 100 Module Items
Modules containing more than 100 items display all status icons.
Explanation: When modules contained more than 100 items, the status icons for each item (publish, unpublish, restricted) were not visible or did not work correctly. This behavior occurred because Canvas was trying to preload content details for all module item types, even if they were not being used. Canvas code has been updated to refine files preloading on the Modules page.
Modules: Modules and External Tools
External Tools can be added as module requirements.
Explanation: When an instructor created a module, added an external tool as an assignment, and then tried to add the external tool as a module requirement, the external tool did not appear in the External Tool list. Additionally, if an instructor created a module and only added an external tool without refreshing the page, the instructor could not access the Add Requirement feature. These behaviors occurred because the tool was not properly tagged as an External Tool in Canvas. Canvas code has been updated to confirm the context and tagging of external module items.
Modules: Locked Modules and View Page Requirements
Module items with the Must View the Page requirement cannot be fulfilled if the page is locked.
Explanation: When a user viewed a module item with a Must View the Page requirement, the module would show when the item was scheduled to be unlocked but would also give credit for the module item’s completion. This behavior occurred because the progress requirement was not restricted to locked items. Canvas code has been updated to verify pages have not been locked before updating module progressions.
Notifications: Concluded Sections
Users in concluded sections do not receive course dashboard notifications.
Explanation: When a user was enrolled in a concluded section, they were still receiving course notifications on their dashboard if the course itself had not concluded. This behavior occurred because notifications did not confirm the state of any created sections. Canvas code has been updated to hide course stream items from non-participating users.
Unpublished Graded Discussions
Canvas does not send notifications for unpublished Graded Discussions.
Explanation: When an instructor created a graded discussion, all students received an Assignment Created notification. This behavior occurred because Canvas did not confirm whether the discussion topic had been published. Canvas code has been updated to verify confirm the publish status of graded discussions.
Pages: HTML Anchors in Chrome/Safari
Canvas Pages linked directly to HTML Anchors functions correctly in Chrome/Safari.
Explanation: When a user linked to a page anchor in Canvas, links did not jump directly to the anchor in webkit-based browsers (Chrome and Safari). This behavior occurred because of an error with the hash mark in the URL. Canvas code has been updated to direct users to anchor links in Chrome and Safari by replacing the hash symbol if necessary.
Pages: Pages and Capital Letters
Users can create Pages with more than one capital letter in a row.
Explanation: When a user created a page with more than one capital letter in a row, the page name caused formatting issues when linking the page. This behavior occurred because capital letters were being treated as new words, which often adds additional spaces. Canvas code has been updated to match the formatting as created in the page title.
Permissions: Group Pages
If a user is granted permission to view the group pages for all student groups, the user can view the group discussions.
Explanation: The View the Group Pages for All Student Groups permission was not working as described in the Canvas Permissions document for Discussions. This behavior occurred because the permission was lacking the ability for users to view discussions for other groups. Canvas code has been updated with read_forum access when viewing group pages.
Permissions: Group Pages and Course Discussion
If a user is granted permission to view the group pages of all student groups, the user is redirected to each individual discussion group for posting.
Explanation: If a student was granted permission to view the group pages of all student groups, the main discussion was not showing students the discussion for their group. All students—regardless of whether or not they were assigned to a group—could post to the main course discussion. This behavior occurred because Canvas did not automatically redirect students to their group’s copy of the discussion. Canvas code has been updated to redirect students to the specific discussion for the group they are viewing.
Quizzes: Manually Concluded Courses and Quiz Submissions
Manually concluded courses do not let students view quiz submissions.
Explanation: When an admin restricts students from viewing quiz questions after the course end date, students in manually concluded courses can still view quiz submissions (both questions and answers). However, once the course or term dates have passed (soft conclude), the restriction is applied and students can no longer view the submissions. This behavior occurred because Canvas was only coded to confirm soft-concluded courses. Canvas code has been updated to include manually concluded courses in the quiz restrict setting.
Quizzes: Equation Edits and the Rich Content Editor
Users can edit existing LaTeX equations in the Rich Content Editor.
Explanation: When an instructor edited an existing LaTeX equation in the Rich Content Editor, the equation no longer rendered correctly. This behavior occurred because the entire HTML img tag was being pulled into the editor as text to extract an equation. Canvas code has been updated to only pull the equation into the editor and allow for editing in basic view.
Rich Content Editor: Menu Options
Copy and paste options display in the Rich Content Editor context menu.
Explanation: When users opened the Rich Content Editor, users could not right click and view the copy and paste menu option unless the user clicked within the height of the body element. This behavior occurred because the text field defaults to 20 px, which is not a large space for content. Canvas code has been updated to make the internal body element to 100 px.
Rich Content Editor: At (@) Symbol and Link to URL
URLs with an at (@) symbol do not include a mailto: preceding the link.
Explanation: When a user accessed the Link to URL option in the Rich Content Editor, of the URL had an at (@) symbol, such as in a Google maps address, the link changed to a mailto link. This behavior occurred because of a discrepancy in symbol functionality. Canvas code has been updated to include a function that clarifies URLs from email addresses.
Next release schedule:
- Beta release and notes: May 4
- Production release notes: May 11
- Production release and documentation: May 16