Canvas Beta Release Notes (2018-04-09)

Document created by Erin Hallmark Administrator on Apr 9, 2018Last modified by on Jul 16, 2018
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Release Notes Changes



  • Accounts API
  • Courses API

In this beta release, Canvas has updated features in Account Settings, Conferences, Discussions, the Rich Content Editor, and SpeedGrader. Other updates are also available in Announcements, SIS Imports, and various APIs and documentation.


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 as available in web browsers. Features are subject to change at any time. Beta features will be available in production environments as noted in Canvas release schedule.

  • Not all features will apply to mobile apps, and some functionality may be implemented in mobile apps at a later date.
  • Mobile features are updated and announced separately according to app and device in the Mobile release notes.


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

Dashboard Default View

Admins can select the Dashboard default view for new users in the account. This setting defaults to the Card View unless otherwise changed to the Recent Activity View. New users can change their Dashboard view at any time in the Dashboard Options menu. Once a user has selected a different view, the default no longer applies.


Account Settings includes the option to set the default view for Dashboard



Individual Recording Deletion

Conference recordings can be individually deleted. Previously, only the entire conference could be deleted, which would also remove all conference recordings. This change helps instructors who manage long-running conferences and create multiple recordings.


Additionally, concluded conferences display the date and time the conference was concluded.


Individual recordings can be deleted from a single conference


Source Code-16.png Canvas open source contributions: BigBlueButton feature: Delete recordings individually 



Courses Page Design Updates

The Discussions 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 discussions:

  • The Unread button has been changed to a menu, where users can filter between all discussions and unread discussions.
  • The Last Posted date has been updated by an unread indicator that displays next to each discussion with recent activity.
  • Like with other assignment types, discussions can be dragged and dropped among the Pinned Discussions section, Discussions section, and Closed for Comments section. Discussions in the Pinned Discussions section can be placed in any order. Discussions and Closed for Comments sections are both automatically ordered by recent activity.
  • Discussions display the date a discussion was posted. Copied discussions do not display a date.
  • The Discussion Subscription icon has been changed to a Bookmark icon.
  • The Peer Review icon has been moved to the right side of the Discussions page next to the Publish or Unpublish icon.
  • Graded discussions cannot be closed for comments prior to their due date.
  • Non-graded discussions can be posted for a specific section or all sections. The number of sections is visible to all users who are able to view the discussion. Only non-graded discussions display section visibility in the Discussions page.
    • The Post To field does not support graded discussions and group discussions. Group discussions should be assigned using a group set, and graded discussions should be assigned using the Assign To field to differentiate the discussion for individuals, sections, or groups.
    • If an individual section is selected in the Post To menu, graded and group discussions are unavailable. Graded and group discussions can be enabled by selecting All Sections option in the Post To menu.
  • Discussions can be duplicated within both a course and group context. However, in groups, students can only duplicate discussions that they’ve created; they cannot duplicate a discussion by another student in the same group. Instructors can duplicate any student discussion.


New Discussions Interface


Section-Specific Discussions

When creating a non-graded discussion, instructors can create section-specific discussions in their courses for all sections, one section, or multiple sections.


Non-graded discussions can be assigned to specific sections


Both the individual discussion and the Discussions page displays the section(s) that can view the discussion.


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


Section-specific discussions can be viewed by users



  • Section-specific discussions are not available for discussions created within a group.
  • For graded discussions, section-specific discussions can be used by differentiating an assignment in the Assign To field.


Rich Content Editor

Inline Preview Document Height

When an auto-open inline preview file link is displayed in a Rich Content Editor browser window, the preview expands to a default height of 800px and displays the full file preview. Previously the preview only expanded to a default height of 400px.


Word Counter

The Rich Content Editor displays a word counter within the editor browser window. This change can help users know how many words they have typed in a discussion, page, assignment text entry, or other content location where the Rich Content Editor is supported.


The word counter calculates the number of words entered into the editor. A word is considered to be a single string of characters typed together without using the spacebar.


The word counter only displays for the user creating content in the Rich Content Editor. After the content is saved, the word counter is no longer visible unless the content is edited. Additionally, the total word count is not visible to any other user.


The word count within the Rich Content Editor window displays in the corner


Note: The Rich Content Editor does not have a word count limit. However, word count is not the same as a total character count, which does affect the Rich Content Editor and can vary based on HTML content and use of special characters.


release-notes-feature-idea-icon.png Canvas Community contributions: Word Count 



Outcomes Extra Credit

This feature requires the Allow Outcome Extra Credit feature option, which can be enabled for an entire account or on a course-by-course basis. Canvas admins can enable this feature option in Account Settings.

When an instructor grades a submission in SpeedGrader and uses a rubric for grading that includes outcomes, outcomes support excess points above the maximum point value. This change allows instructors to provide extra credit and award more points than allowed by the outcome.


SpeedGrader supports extra credit in outcomes when the feature option is enabled


Turning off this feature option does not affect excess outcome point values that have already been assessed in a rubric in SpeedGrader. When the feature option is not enabled, each outcome only supports the maximum criterion value. Any entries higher than the maximum value are not retained when the rubric is saved.


Note: Excess points for a rubric criterion can be awarded at any time and are not managed by the Allow Extra Credit Outcomes feature option.



  Other Updates




Reply Icon Update

In Announcements, the Reply icon has been updated to a Lock or Unlock icon, which displays according to the state of the announcement.


The Reply icon in Announcements has been updated to a lock and unlock icon


SIS Import

SIS File Refactor

This feature requires the SIS Import Refactor feature option, which can be enabled for an entire account. Canvas admins can enable this feature option in Account Settings.

The SIS Import system has been refactored for improved stability in SIS processing. These changes benefit accounts importing large files with more than 1000 lines, provides more detailed error and troubleshooting information, and allows for future SIS Import engineering improvements.



SIS Imports are added to a queue that processes each file within an imported ZIP file individually. The SIS refactor prepares an entire ZIP file and processes 1000 lines at a time for better efficiency within the queue. Previously the SIS import system had to break up the ZIP file into multiple lines and process each group of lines as new individual files. No changes to the import process are visible to admins.



SIS Import errors continue to display in the SIS Import page. However, the SIS Import Errors API provides additional troubleshooting details in error lists and returns the CSV line number where an error occurred if the SIS Refactor is enabled. This API can also be used in accounts that have not enabled the SIS Import Refactor feature option, but they will not include the line number where the error occurred.






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


Accounts API

Permissions Endpoint

  • New endpoint that returns permission information for the calling user and the given account. The caller must have an account role or admin enrollment in a course in the account. Also relates to the Courses API Permissions endpoint.
  • Permissions parameter: returns the list of permissions to check against the authenticated user. Permission names are documented in the Create a Role endpoint.


release-notes-bug-fix-icon.png This change resolves a fixed bug in Canvas:

When a user with a custom admin role tried to act as another user, Canvas returned an unauthorized error. Canvas code has been updated to include a new Accounts API endpoint to verify permissions for custom admin roles.


Courses API

Permissions Endpoint

  • Includes link to new Accounts API Permissions endpoint.
  • Permissions parameter: clarifies that permission names are documented in the Create a Role endpoint.


Discussion Topics API

Get a Single Topic Endpoint

  • Include parameter: new parameter in endpoint. Allowed values include all_dates, sections, sections_user_count, and overrides.


List Discussion Topics Endpoint

  • Include parameter: includes overrides as an allowed value


Modules API

Module Object

  • Returns the published parameter


ModuleItem Object

  • Returns the published parameter


ModuleItemSequenceNode Object

  • Returns the mastery_path parameter
  • Includes examples for the current and next items in the course sequence


ModuleItemSequence Object

  • Includes full examples for items and modules arrays


Sections API

Create Course Section Endpoint

  • Course_section[sis_section_id] parameter: notes the user must have the manage_sis permissions to set.
  • Course_section[integration_id] parameter: new parameter that sets the integration_id of the section. Must have the manage_sis permission to set.


SIS Import Errors API

Get SIS Import Error List Endpoint

  • Returns a list of SIS import errors for an account or SIS import. Import errors are only stored for 30 days.


SIS Import Format Documentation


  • Old_integration_id field: clarified in description that this field does not support group categories
  • New_integration_id field: clarified in description that this field does not support group categories
  • Type field: added group_category to the description


SIS Imports API

SisImport Object

  • Workflow_state parameter: returns whether the SIS import was aborted
  • Skip_deletes parameter: returns whether the import skipped any deleted objects


Import SIS Data Endpoint

  • Skip_deletes parameter: new parameter that can be used on any type of SIS import. When set, the import will skip any deletes. This parameter does not account for objects that are deleted during the batch mode cleanup process.


Users API

Get a Pandata JWT Token and its Expiration Date Endpoint

  • New endpoint that returns a jwt token, which can be used to send events to Canvas Data
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