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2016

TL;DR: We’re adding a Canvas Feature Idea stage to better communicate what is on our radar and what we are planning for the future.

 

We are adding the Product Radar stage to identify ideas that are on the radar of our product team, but are not currently planned for development or in development.

 

Here’s what you can expect from us:

  • The product team will comment on ideas of their choosing, quarterly.  These ideas will move to an appropriate stage, including Product Radar.
  • Voting will remain open for ideas in the Product Radar stage.
  • An idea may stay in Product Radar, indefinitely.
  • Product Radar Ideas may eventually move into other stages including In Development, or Complete.  Ideas that we decide not to implement will be moved to Archived.
  • Resubmissions of Product Radar ideas will be archived.

 

Here’s why:

Very frequently there is a conversation at Canvas HQ that goes something like this:

Community Manager, “Hey, Check out this idea that received so many votes.”

Product Manager, “Hey, That’s a great idea!  I love this.”

Community Manager, “Awesome!  So, we’re going to build this, right?”

Sad Product Manger, “No, not now. We have to do X, Y, and Z first.”

Sad Community Manager, “So, like, we’ll never do this?”

Product Manager, “Not NEVER, we just can’t say when we’ll be able to.  We want to but it's too far in the future to tell.  It is on our radar though.”

 

radar-icon1.png

 

 

 

So now there is an idea stage for things that are on our product managers’ collective radar - they know about it, understand the need, want to build it but cannot say when it will be possible.

 

*Read more about the Ideation process and idea stages in What is the feature development process for Canvas? and How does the voting process work for feature ideas?

In Josh Coates’ Instructurecon 2016 Keynote, you might recall him referencing the Feature Idea forum as a gold mine. In this robust repository of intellectual gold, you’ll find requests ranging from a simple tweak (‘flake’) to huge tasks (‘nuggets’) that would require a lot of work. And, each of these ideas carry a vote count that represents community priority.

 

Why is Instructure suddenly sprinkling gold flakes?

In upcoming releases, you may start seeing the results of Instructure’s quarterly tradition—an event called Hack Week, where our engineers get dedicated time to work (or play) on a  passion project.



Why does Instructure promote passion projects?

The old proverb “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”, translated in modern terms, may read

more like All work and no play burns Jack out. Burnout has compounding consequences mentally, physically, and emotionally. None of us want to see Instructure engineers looking like the working dead, which is why once a quarter they are given a week to select any bite-sized Canvas-related project and play!

 

Play, you may ask? Yes, Play! Play, which is how many engineers view tackling and testing new code and techniques, is a known generator of freeing the mind of mental block, increasing motivation and productivity, and spiking innovation. This isn’t a new concept—you may be familiar with Google’s ‘20 percent time’, which has sparked an educational movement known as ‘Genius Hour’. Instructure’s Hack Week is just a different flavor of the same strategy!



What about current projects?

Hack Week is factored into the development schedule when projects are initially scoped. Of course, if a project is behind or bugs need immediate attention, those tasks take priority. After a week, engineers resume their current projects where they left off—and hopefully, with fresh eyes, clear minds, and new approaches in their skillset!

 

Engineers share the same ‘gold mine’ perspective as Josh, and they love to align their passions with our community. And as a result, don’t be surprised to see a few feature flakes (and sometimes nuggets) that wouldn’t otherwise be completed had they not taken the time for play.

 

Check out these past examples:

 

So, if you’re perusing the release notes over the next few releases and notice a feature that just doesn’t quite fit (having low votes or not quite aligned with larger general projects), that feature just may be an example of an engineer’s passion project aligning with the passions of community members!


Do you have a passion project at work, or do you promote a philosophy similar to Hack Week? If so, we’d love to hear more. Comment below and tell us your story!