Canvas Beta Release Notes (2018-05-21)

Document created by Erin Hallmark Administrator on May 21, 2018Last modified by on Jul 16, 2018
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In this beta release, Canvas has updated features in Accounts and Account Settings, Authentication, Conferences, Discussions, DocViewer, and User Settings. Other updates are also available in Outcomes, the Rich Content Editor, Rubrics, SIS Import, and API 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

Course and People Search Enforcement

This feature was previously announced in the Canvas Production Release Notes (2018-03-10).


Enhancement ideas for this feature can be viewed in Canvas studio and created using the account_search tag. For more details about idea feedback, please see the Canvas Community Feedback Guidelines.

The account-level Course and People pages have been updated to help admins more easily navigate courses and users in their institution. Previously introduced as a feature option, this functionality will no longer be an option in Canvas and will be enabled for all Canvas accounts. 


Right-to-Left Language Support

This feature update was originally introduced to the beta environment in the Canvas Beta Release Notes (2018-04-30).


This feature requires the Allow RTL Users to See RTL Interface feature option, which applies to an entire account. Canvas admins can enable this feature option in Account Settings.

Admins can change the Canvas interface to support right-to-left languages. This change repositions all navigational elements and text components. Currently, right-to-left functionality is supported for Arabic, Hebrew, and Persian languages.


right-to-left language support



SAML Login Attribute Domain Option

Institutions using SAML authentication can choose to remove the domain URL from the login attribute value. This option allows an institution’s SIS provider to create a custom login attribute by disregarding the domain if necessary. The login attribute matches the claim rule name as defined in the SAML authentication setup.


SAML Authentication Change for Login Attribute



Recording Formats and Statistics

Canvas includes access to the basic tier of Conferences for all customers. For more information about the premium Conference tier, please contact a Canvas Customer Success Manager.

Conferences can display multiple recording formats. Depending on an institution’s Conferences tier, recording formats may be displayed as a presentation or a video.


Conferences displays statistics and recording formats


Additionally, instructors whose institutions have upgraded to the Canvas Conferences premium tier can see a new recording format called statistics that provides metrics about student participation in the recorded session. These metrics include attendance (length of time in the session), number of moderators and participants, and a count of total speaking, chatting, raising hands, and sharing emojis events. Metrics also include each student's response to polls. Statistical information can be downloaded as a CSV file.


Conference statistics available for instructors


Source Code-16.png Canvas open source contributions: BBB feature recording multiple formats



Courses Page Design Updates

This feature update was originally introduced to the beta environment in the Canvas Beta Release Notes (2018-04-09).

The Discussions page includes an updated design to improve accessibility for all users. Most functionality has not been affected. Additionally, when creating a non-graded discussion, instructors can create section-specific discussions in their courses for all sections, one section, or multiple sections.


Discussions Interface



Upcoming DocViewer features are not available for testing in the beta environment.


Enhancement ideas for this feature can be viewed in Canvas studio and created using the docviewer tag. For more details about idea feedback, please see the Canvas Community Feedback Guidelines.

Image Support

DocViewer annotations can be added to BMP, JPEG, JPG, PNG, TIF, and TIFF images in SpeedGrader and the Submission Details page. Large images are scaled to a lower resolution so the entire image can be displayed without having to scroll.


Note: This change does not apply to Images previewed in Files.


DocViewer image support


release-notes-feature-idea-icon.png Canvas Community contributions: Configure Image Files in Speedgrader to Fit the Window 


Instructor Annotation Management

Instructors can delete any annotations or comments for any user. This change allows instructors to remove annotations or comments that may be inappropriate or incorrect within a document. Any custom role based on the instructor permission can also delete annotations, as well as any admin.


When a user with annotation management permissions deletes a user’s annotation or comment, the annotation or comment is deleted from view for all users except for the owner of the annotation or comment. The owner can retain the deleted items or remove them by clicking the Remove icon. Deleted comments still support replies.


Instructors can delete annotated comments


release-notes-feature-idea-icon.png Canvas Community contributions: DocViewer: Admin and Instructor can edit/delete comments 


Non-Author Annotation Comments

Users can comment on annotations if they are not the author of the annotation. This change allows any user to comment on annotations made by another user if a comment does not already exist.


Users can leave comments on annotations they didn't create


Comment Truncation

Comments are truncated if they are longer than five lines long. Previously comments were truncated after one line. When a comment is selected directly, the full content of the comment all lines of content.


Truncated Comments


Comment Display Order

This change has already been deployed to the production environment.

Comments always align with their associated annotations.


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

When multiple comments existed in a document and a user clicked a comment, comments did not align with their associated annotation and instead rearranged with the most recent comment at the top of the page. Canvas code has been updated to retain vertical order of all comments. so that when the student views them, comments appear in the same order as the parts of the text to which they apply.


release-notes-feature-idea-icon.png Canvas Community contributions: Automatically order correctly marginal comments in Speed Grader upon submit 


Comment Padding

This change has already been deployed to the production environment.

Comment padding has been decreased in each comment box. This change contributes to continual improvements being made to the commenting experience.


User Settings

Gradebook CSV Separator Preferences

This feature requires one of multiple feature options that apply to a user’s individual account. Users can enable these feature options in User Settings.

Users can select how they want to view separators in Gradebook Export CSV files, depending on their locale or user preference.


Separator options are managed through one of three feature options in User Settings. Currently the options only apply to exporting Gradebook CSV files, but these options may apply to other CSV files in a future release.


Include Byte-Order Mark generates a specific set of three characters at the beginning of the CSV file. These characters are known as a byte-order mark and help some versions of Microsoft Excel understand that the CSV file about to be processed is a UTF-8 encoded file. It also tells some localized versions of Excel that they should treat the incoming CSV file as if it were semicolon-separated by default. Because some versions of Excel do not understand or honor the byte-order mark, this feature allows all users to disable generation of this byte-order mark.


Use semicolons to separate fields generates CSV files with semicolons as the field separators instead of the default comma. When disabled, this feature falls back to behavior determined by the state of the Autodetect field separators option.


Note: This feature is automatically disabled if the Autodetect Field Separators option is enabled.


Autodetect field separators attempts to determine the appropriate field separator as indicated by the language set in the user’s account. For languages where the decimal separator is a dot e.g. 1,234.56, autodetection will choose a comma as the field separator. For languages where the decimal separator is a comma, e.g. 1.234,56, autodetection will choose a semicolon as the field separator. For all other cases, autodetection will choose a comma as the field separator as a default.


Note: This feature is automatically disabled if the Use semicolons to separate fields option is already enabled.


User Feature Options for Gradebook CSV Separator Preferences



  Other Updates




Import Error and Warning Functionality Clarification

Imported outcome errors and warnings are more distinctive through clarified functionality. This change helps admins and instructors more clearly understand if import behavior is considered an error or a warning. If an imported file display a behavior that affect the entire outcome file, such as including empty files and/or invalid headers, or not including any outcomes in the file, the import is an error. All other behaviors that affect a single outcome in the file is a warning, such as an incorrect course ID. Previously most behaviors considered as warnings were noted as errors.


Rich Content Editor

In the Rich Content Editor sidebar, the Links tab Course Navigation section reflects the same name as displayed in Course Navigation. This change helps align terminology consistency throughout Canvas.


In the Links tab, Course Navigation links match with the Course Navigation Menu



Account and Course Order

When a rubric is added to an assignment, the Find Rubrics window displays account and course names alphabetically. Previously the account and course names did not display in any specific order.


SIS Import

SIS File Refactor Feature Option Enforcement

This feature was previously announced in the Canvas Production Release Notes (2018-04-21).

The SIS File Refactor account-level feature option has been updated for improved performance. This change benefits institutions with large SIS imports, provides more detailed error and troubleshooting information, and allows for future SIS Import engineering improvements. Previously introduced as a feature option, this functionality will no longer be an option in Canvas and will be enabled for all Canvas accounts.






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


API Additions

Content Exports API

Export Content Endpoint

  • Added select parameter


External Tools API

Create an External Tool Endpoint

  • Added account_navigation[display_type] parameter


Grade Passback External Tools

  • Added Submission Details Return Extension documentation, which includes information about supporting Submitted At timestamps


Scopes API

List Scopes Endpoint

  • Added group_by parameter


Scope Object

  • Returns the scope’s associated resource and the HTTP verb for the scope


Submissions API

Submission Summary Endpoint

  • Added grouped parameter
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