What is the Canvas beta environment?

Document created by jivedocs@instructure.com Employee on Jun 13, 2018
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What is the Canvas beta environment?

Canvas beta is a working environment offered as a complimentary service by Instructure. The beta environment is for testing and QA review before code is released to the production environment; it is refreshed every week to display the same content in the production environment. New code can be introduced to the beta environment at any time.


The beta environment is separate from the Canvas test environment, which is used for testing all aspects of Canvas, especially user data.


Why should I use the beta environment?

The beta environment can be used to test new and updated features before they are released to the production environment. Use of this environment is optional, and feature testing is not mandatory. All available functionality is described in the Canvas Release Notes. However, the beta environment can be used to anticipate any problems that may occur before the production release, especially if an institution is using custom cascading style sheets (CSS) or JavaScript (JS).


Not all functionality is supported in the beta environment and some features, specifically LTI tools, may still use production data. Therefore, content can be affected even if the feature or tool is accessed from the beta environment.


When are new features added to beta?

New features are added to beta every three weeks. Learn more about the beta release schedule in What is the Canvas release schedule for beta, production, and test environments?


How do I access the beta environment?

Canvas admins and instructors can access the beta environment by adding beta in their Canvas URL (e.g. yourinstitution.beta.instructure.com). Learn how to access the environment directly as noted in the Canvas guide for each user role:


What should I expect in the beta environment?

Our Canvas development teams are constantly developing Canvas and committing changes to our master code base. That master code base includes thousands of automated tests that execute every time a developer commits new code.


The Canvas beta environment is a working environment that receives a copy of the master code base every three weeks. During the first week, many Canvas engineers are refining the code released to the beta environment, running additional tests to ensure performance and feature accuracy, and pushing changes to resolve new behaviors currently in the code. Although significant testing has been completed in the master environment, the beta environment is primarily designed to catch any contrary behaviors before they reach the production environment. During the second week, new deploys slow down and the code is more stable. In the third week, no new code is deployed unless absolutely necessary to minimize additional risk that could be introduced to the upcoming production environment deploy.


All code will be deployed from the beta environment to the production environment, pending customer feedback and QA testing.


How do I find out about new features available in beta?

On the second Monday of the beta release, all available feature updates are published in the Canvas Release Notes. The beta environment can still be used during the first week of the release, but features—and the beta environment itself—are subject to change. The Canvas Release Notes are a more stable indication of all available feature updates. Find the Release Notes in the Release Notes: Canvas LMS page.


Canvas engineers may continue to deploy additional code into the beta environment at any time. Any such additions to the beta environment are noted in the Canvas Release Notes during the second week. No changes are generally made during the third week, which is the week directly before the production release.


What limitations are in the beta environment?

The beta environment is managed by the same engineers who manage the production and test environments. While the beta environment is an important resource to our customers, the beta environment does not include any service-level agreements (SLAs) for fixes or feature updates. Additionally, status updates and incident reports are not provided for any disruptions that occur.


The beta environment includes certain limitations as noted in the Canvas guide for each user role:


What happens to my content in the beta environment?

The beta environment is refreshed weekly. Any content added to or modified in the beta environment will be overwritten by content in the production environment every Saturday. Beta is not available for use when the environment is being refreshed.