Canvas Beta Release Notes (2015-05-26)

Document created by Erin Hallmark Administrator on May 26, 2015Last modified by on Jul 15, 2018
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In this beta release, Canvas has new features for the Calendar, Assignments, and User Profile. We also have updates in Admin Settings, Collaborations, the Gradebook, and Notifications, as well as a small design change to the Feature Options page. We’re also making upgrades to two key Canvas technologies. View the beta release notes and let us know your thoughts!


The beta environment is for testing new and updated features, which are subject to change based on user feedback. Learn more about Canvas Beta.


  New Features




Custom Colors

Canvas allows users to set their own colors for each calendar in their account. Canvas will assign an arbitrary color for each calendar unless a custom color is chosen. Each calendar contains 15 default colors, but users can insert a Hex code to create any color of their choice.


Note: The Calendar can only display up to 10 calendars at one time.




This feature was originally suggested by the Canvas community.



Differentiated Assignments by Individual

This feature is used in conjunction with the Differentiated Assignments feature option.


In Assignments, instructors have the flexibility to differentiate assignments between individual students and select which students are required to complete specific tasks.


When enabled, this feature is available for all assignments: Assignments, Quizzes, and Graded Discussions.


When creating or editing an assignment, instructors can specify whether the assignment should be for everyone in the course, for specific sections, or for individual students. Only the section(s) or student(s) specified in the assignment details can view the assignment. Varied due date functionality remains available for each assignment.




This feature can also be used with the existing ability to create an assignment by section. If the assignment is not created for everyone, Canvas will notify the assignment creator that course sections have not been added to the assignment.




In the Gradebook, assignment grade cells are grayed out for students who have not been included in the assignment. Assignments that are not assigned to a student are not factored into the student’s overall grades.




Note: On the student grades page, students can only view assignments that are assigned to them, either individually or as part of a course section.


This feature was originally suggested by the Canvas community.


User Profile

Student Submission Exports

On their User Profile page, students can download all of their assignment submissions from Canvas. Submissions are for both current and concluded courses and only includes any files that were submitted to fulfill an assignment; they do not include any submissions modified by instructors, such as annotated submissions.


When the export has finished generating, submissions are downloaded as a ZIP file.





  Updated Features



Admin Settings


The Provisioning and SIS Export reports include sortable name, full name, and short name in the CSV downloads. This change allows the CSV to display all name types as shown in an SIS system, including names with suffixes.




Collaborations no longer includes EtherPad as a collaboration tool. This change resolves concerns with Canvas user authentication. Only Google Docs will be available to create new Collaborations in Canvas.


Users that have links to existing collaborations will see a warning message notifying them to migrate any necessary content before August 8, when all Etherpad collaborations that are hosted by Canvas will be permanently deleted.


Institutions who still want to use Etherpad as a collaboration tool can set up their own Etherpad server and integrate it with Canvas. Learn more about the open source Etherpad project at





Multiple Grading Periods in Individual View

This feature is used in conjunction with the Multiple Grading Periods feature option, which was introduced in the 2015-05-04 beta notes and currently is available only in the beta environment. This feature does not apply to the Learning Mastery Gradebook.

The Gradebook Individual View lists grading periods for the course in a drop-down menu and displays all assignments that appear during the specified period. Grading periods are arranged by date, with the newest grading period listed first.




Persistent Gradebook Columns

Canvas saves a user’s custom Gradebook preferences and associates them with the user’s profile. This change allows users to rearrange a column in the Gradebook, including the size of the column, and have the changes persist across any computer or browser.


Total Grade Rounding

If the Total Grade column is shown as a percentage, the percentage is rounded to two decimal places. This change is also shown in Gradebook CSV exports. For instance, if the Total Grade for a student is 99.567, Canvas previously rounded the grade to 99.6%. With two decimals, the grade is now rounded to 99.57%.


This feature was previously announced in Canvas Studio.



Conferences Recordings

Users who create a conference with a recording can receive a notification to know when the conference recording is ready for viewing. By default the notification is set to never.





  Other Canvas Updates




Canvas Login Parameters

With changes to the authentication workflow in Canvas, the ?canvas_login=1 parameter has been deprecated and replaced with /login/canvas. This parameter also no longer applies to any URL that is not the root of the domain (e.g.


Additionally, /saml_consume has also been deprecated and replaced with /login/saml.


With these changes, any pages where users are redirected for an account login, or redirected after a successful login, may have a different URL but is functionally and visually identical to the former login form.



Feature Options Buttons

At both the account and course levels, the buttons on the Feature Options page have been updated to match the Canvas style guide, which provides better clarity in seeing which features are enabled.




Technology Upgrades

Ruby 2.1 and Passenger 5

Canvas has upgraded two key technologies underpinning Canvas: Ruby, the programming language where Canvas code is written, and Passenger, a web/application server technology. Both technologies are being upgraded to Ruby 2.1 and Passenger 5, respectively. These upgrades help us create features more quickly with improved functions and optimized processes and keep us current from a security perspective.


Both upgrades have been deployed to a subset of beta environments, and we’re ready to start an equally cautious deployment plan. No downtime will be required for these upgrades, and we have a quick and effective rollback process at the ready in the unlikely event something goes wrong.


On May 27, the upgrades will be deployed to the Free For Teacher accounts (hosted at Barring any complications, the remainder of beta environments and all production environments will be upgraded in the June 6 release. An update to these upgrades will be included in the June 6 Canvas Production Release Notes.



  Platform/Integration Updates





In the Groups API, users can get a single group membership, which returns the group membership with the given membership id or user id.


Submissions API

In the Submissions API, author information is hidden in submission comments if the current user doesn’t have rights to view the information; the author_id and author_names appear as anonymous and the author object is empty. This change also incorporates changes to the UserDisplay object in the Users API.


Users API

In the Users API, users can get and update custom colors with three new endpoints. Getting a custom color has two options: return all custom colors that have been saved for a user, or return the custom colors that have been saved for a user for a given context.