Canvas Beta Release Notes (2018-02-26)

Document created by Erin Hallmark Administrator on Feb 26, 2018Last modified by on Jul 15, 2018
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In this beta release, Canvas has updated features in Account Settings and Announcements. Other updates are also available in Outcomes, various APIs, and LTI Variable Substitutions.


Features are subject to change based on user feedback and testing. Please follow the release notes for the latest information.


The beta environment is for testing new and updated features, which are subject to change at any time. Beta features will be available in production environments as noted in Canvas release schedule.


The Canvas product team welcomes feedback according to Canvas Community Feedback Guidelines. Release notes comments are subject to release notes comment policies.


Account-level features are not available in Free-for-Teacher accounts unless otherwise indicated.


Flash Content Reminder: Canvas displays Flash content as supported within major browsers. Microsoft Edge, Safari, Chrome, and Firefox default to HTML5 as the preferred method for displaying website content, which promotes a faster, more secure browsing experience. These browsers will eventually block all Flash content. For best performance in Canvas, course content should be designed to support HTML5. Any affected content can still be accessed by manually allowing permission for flash content in the browser. Using the camera and microphone to record media content within the Canvas Rich Content Editor currently still relies on Flash and is being addressed by Canvas engineers.


Advanced CSS and JavaScript users: Canvas releases may include undocumented changes that affect styles and code in custom applications. Please make sure to view your Beta environment for any customization conflicts.


  Updated Features



Account Settings

This feature requires the Account Course and User Search feature option, which can be enabled for the entire account or allowed for individual subaccounts. Canvas admins can enable this feature option in Account Settings.

The account-level Course and People pages have been redesigned to help admins more easily navigate courses and users in their account.



The Courses page is the default page for accounts and displays courses for all terms in the account.


account-level courses page


The Terms menu can be used to filter terms and are grouped by active, future, and past terms. The Default term is included in the active terms list. Depending on the number of terms in an account, the Terms menu may display a loading message until all terms are visible


By default, the search field looks up courses by name, though admins can change the menu to search by teacher name. Filters and Search fields are updated dynamically.


Courses can also be hidden from filtered results if they have no students or only display Blueprint Courses (if enabled for the account). Blueprint courses include the Blueprint icon.


courses page menu and search fields


The Courses page paginates results in sets of 15 courses. Each course result shows the name of the course, SIS ID (if applicable), term, teachers (instructors), subaccount, and number of active students. Each paginated page displays in a table format but columns are responsive according to the widest column for that page.


If a course includes more than two instructors, the instructor column displays a Show More link that can be clicked to expand the full list of instructors.


Links are also included for manually adding a user to a course, viewing course statistics, and viewing course settings. When users are added to a course, the Add People window displays the name of the course.


By default, courses are ordered by SIS ID, if available. Each column heading can be sorted in ascending or descending order (alphabetically or numerically). The student column is the only column that cannot be sorted.


courses page sorting by term



The People page displays users for all user roles in an account.


account-level people page


The Roles menu can be used to filter users by all roles or individual course-level roles. Admins can also search for a user’s name and add a new user. For admins with appropriate permissions, the options menu displays links to manage profile pictures and view user groups.



  • The Roles menu does not include admin roles.
  • The Manage Profile Pictures option is always available regardless if profile pictures are enabled for the account.


people page menus and search field


The People page paginates results in sets of 15 users. Each user result shows the name of the user, email address, SIS ID (if applicable), and last login date and time. The full date and time for a user’s login can be viewed by hovering over the date. A login on the current date displays the time only. Each paginated page displays in a table format but columns are responsive according to the widest column for that page.


User details can be viewed by clicking the name of a user. Links are also included to act as the user, send a message from the Conversations Inbox, and edit user details.


By default, user names are displayed as first name, last name, and are ordered by last name. Each column heading can be sorted in ascending or descending order (alphabetically or numerically).


people page sorting by email

release-notes-feature-idea-icon.png Canvas Community contributions: Advanced Admin Search & Sort Pagination for Courses List (Admin) 


Profile Picture Gravatar Setting

When profile pictures (user avatars) are allowed for an institution, admins can also allow or disallow Gravatars as a profile image option. A Gravatar is a globally recognized avatar associated for a user in any website that supports Gravatars.


Admins can manage Gravatars in Account Settings. When the User Avatars checkbox is selected, the Enable Gravatar checkbox is also selected by default.


gravatars can be enabled or disabled in account settings


When Gravatars are enabled in an account, users can import their Gravatar when selecting a profile picture in their user settings page. Gravatars are associated with the user’s Gravatar email address. When Gravatars are disabled, the From Gravatar tab is not included as an option in the Select Profile Picture window.


enabling gravatars in account settings shows the gravatar option in profile pictures



Courses Page Design Updates

The Announcements page includes an updated design to improve accessibility for all users. Most functionality has not been affected.


The following changes have been made to course announcements:

  • The Unread button has been changed to a menu, where users can filter between all announcements and unread announcements.
  • External feeds are viewed and managed within a separate sidebar similar to other Canvas features.
  • The RSS feed button has been changed to a link within the External Feeds sidebar.
  • Announcements are locked by default and no longer display a lock icon. Announcements that allow comments include a Reply link under the announcement. Users can view and reply to the announcement by clicking the announcement title or the Reply link.
  • Announcements can be specified for a specific section or all sections. The number of sections is visible to all users who are able to view the announcement.
  • Profile pictures display next to each announcement for the user who posted the announcement. If profile pictures are not enabled for an account, the announcement displays a placeholder profile picture.


student view of new announcements page


For instructors, the following changes apply:

  • The Add External Feed link has been moved to a link within the External Feeds sidebar.
  • The Announcements page no longer includes excess whitespace.
  • Delayed announcements are identified in the Announcements page and include the upcoming post date and time.
  • The lock and unlock icon for allowing or disallowing comments has been changed to a Reply arrow icon.


instructor view new announcements page


Note: Currently announcements shown in the home page must be viewed individually and cannot be expanded directly in the page. This functionality will be updated in a future release.


Section-Specific Announcements

When creating an announcement, instructors can create section-specific announcements in their courses. When creating an announcement, instructors can select to send the announcement to all sections, one section, or multiple sections.


announcements can be sent to all sections, one section, or multiple sections


Both the individual announcement and the Announcements page displays the section(s) that can view the announcement.


Users will view announcements for the sections where they are enrolled. Note that they can also view the specific sections where the announcement was posted.


Both the individual announcement and the Announcements Index Page displays the section(s) that can view the announcement


Note: Section-specific announcements are not available in groups.


release-notes-feature-idea-icon.png Canvas Community contributions: Tailor Announcements to specific sections or groups 


Allow Comments Option

In announcements, comments are disabled by default. This change helps manage expectations for announcements while still allowing users to participate.


Instructors can allow users to comment in announcements by selecting the Allow users to Comment checkbox. When selected, instructors can also select the option to allow users to post before seeing other replies.



comments can be allowed in announcements using a checkbox


In the Announcements page, comments can be allowed or disallowed at any time in the Settings menu for the announcement.


if allowed, comments can be managed from the announcements index page


Please note that commenting can be disabled completely in Account Settings or Course Settings. If commenting is disabled, the Allow Users to Comment checkbox is not included as an announcement option. Additionally, comments cannot be managed in the Announcements page.


Note: Comments cannot be disabled for announcements within groups.


announcements do not display the option to allow comments if restricted at the course or account level


release-notes-feature-idea-icon.png Canvas Community contributions: Announcements should default to closed for comments 



  Other Updates




Menu Icon Update

The Outcomes menu icon has been changed from a horizontal options icon to a vertical options icon. This change applies to both account and course levels and helps align consistency throughout all Canvas areas and mobile apps.


outcomes menu icon rotation






For details about using Canvas API documentation, please see the Canvas API Policy page.


Account Notifications API

User Endpoint Clarifications

In the Account Notifications API, endpoints have been updated for the following endpoints:

  • Index of Active Global Notification for the User
  • Show a Global Notification
  • Close Notification for User


These endpoints clarify use for the current user only. Additionally, the example request URL for each endpoint has also been updated to show the intended response.


Account Reports API

Report Parameters Object True and False Values

The Account Reports API returns true and false values for a Report Parameter object. All values have been clarified to note that if true, deleted objects will be included. If false, deleted objects will be omitted.


The Start a Report endpoint supports the parameters[course_id] parameter, which returns the course ID, and the parameters[users] parameter, which includes user data. Both of these parameters have been listed as examples and may not be valid for every report.


Custom Gradebook Columns API

Custom Column Object Column ID and Visibility

The Custom Gradebook Columns API returns the custom gradebook column ID and column visibility for a Custom Column object.


Source Code-16.png Canvas open source contributions: Added ID into CustomColumn model


External Tools API

User Navigation Documentation Clarification

In the External Tools API, the Create an External Tool parameter includes the user_navigation[visibility] endpoint, which notes which user roles will see the navigation tab.


The Get a Single External Tool endpoint includes an example response of the user_navigation parameter.


LTI Variable Substitutions

Group Variables

LTI Variable Substitutions includes the following substitution variables:

  • returns the Canvas id of the group the current user is in if launching from a group assignment.
  • returns the name of the group the current user is in if launching from a group assignment.


Membership and Roles Clarifications

LTI Variable Substitutions includes the following substitution variable updates:

  • Canvas.membership.roles indicates the launch parameter is canvas_membership_roles.
  • Canvas.xuser.allRoles clarifies that this substitution variable will include all roles the user has across the entire root account. Roles will not be scoped to the context of the LTI launch.


Submissions API

Submitted_Since Parameter

In the Submissions API, the List Submissions for Multiple Assignments endpoint supports the submitted_since parameter, which includes submissions submitted after a specified date time.

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