Canvas Beta Release Notes (2016-12-19)

Document created by Erin Hallmark Administrator on Dec 19, 2016Last modified by on Jul 15, 2018
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In this beta release, Canvas has new features in Account Settings and Pages, and updated functionality can be found in Account Settings, Authentication, the Calendar, Course Imports, Courses, ePortfolios, and Multiple Grading Periods. Updates have also been made to Canvas icons and several APIs.


Beta 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. Learn how to access the beta environment.


Beta features will be available in production environments according to the Canvas release schedule.


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


  New Features



Account Settings

Disable Announcement Comments

In Account Settings, admins can set an option to disable comments on announcements by default. This option can also be locked for all sub-accounts and courses. Announcements can also be managed in the Accounts API.




Course Level

When an admin selects the option to disable comments on announcements, all sub-account and course announcements are shown to all users with a lock icon, meaning the announcement is closed for comments. However, instructors can choose to open comments on a per-announcement basis.




However, when an admin selects the option to disable comments and lock the setting for sub-accounts and courses, the Course Settings option to disable announcements is grayed out and cannot be changed at the course level.




release-notes-feature-idea-icon.png Canvas Community contributions: Feature request: disable the "reply to" for Announcements at the account level



Course Home Page Announcements Display

If a course has a content page set as the course home page, instructors can display a certain number of recent announcements at the top of the page. This change allows instructors to show announcements as part of the course home page when users view Canvas in a web browser.




To enable this feature, instructors can select the Show Recent Announcements checkbox in Course Settings and specify the number of recent announcements that should be shown (up to 15). By default, the interface displays three announcements unless the number is adjusted. Announcements display in the home page for two weeks.


Course Settings can also be updated in the Courses API, which defaults to showing five announcements.




release-notes-feature-idea-icon.png Canvas Community contributions: Display most recent announcements on a Page



  Updated Features



Account Settings

Custom Help Link Mail Scheme

In the Help Menu, custom help links support the mail (mailto:) scheme, which allows institutions to create an email link in the Help Menu. The mailto scheme includes mailto:, followed by the email address.


The mailto: scheme opens the link according to the email service configured in the user's browser. If no browser configuration is set, the browser will try to pass the email link to a desktop email program such as Outlook or Apple Mail. However, users can configure links to be sent to web-based email services such as Gmail and Yahoo. For help configuring mailto links in a browser, please reference the browser’s support information.

Note: Custom help links only display in web browsers and are not available in the Canvas mobile app.




release-notes-feature-idea-icon.png Canvas Community contributions: Allow mailto links in Help Menu 



Canvas Authentication Password Characters

To improve security, passwords for Canvas authentication have been changed from six characters to eight characters. This change mostly affects Free-for-Teacher accounts since FFT accounts have Canvas authentication enabled by default. However, institutions using other external authentication methods are not affected.


The eight-character length requirement only applies when a user creates a new password or resets a password. Existing six- and seven-character passwords are not affected unless the password needs to be changed or reset.


Remove All Authentication Alert

When an admin clicks the Remove All Authentication button, Canvas generates a confirmation warning about the removal and reminds the admin that users may not be able to log in if existing authentication methods are removed. Authentication methods are not removed until the admin confirms the removal.



Student Scheduler Events

When students click the Scheduler button, Scheduler displays all events available to them, even if the students are not viewing a calendar for a specific course. This change helps students be able to view all Scheduler events regardless of Calendar visibility.


Course Imports

Copy a Canvas Course Order

In the Copy a Canvas Course option, the course drop-down menu is sorted in order from newest to oldest terms, then alphabetically by course. This change helps admins and instructors more easily locate terms and courses for course copies.


Note: The course drop-down menu does not display for users with access to more than 100 courses; users must use the search field to locate a course.





Course List Enrollments Default

For users who have never customized their courses list, Canvas has increased the number of courses automatically displayed in the Dashboard and Global Navigation Courses menu from 12 to 20. If the Courses menu includes more than 12 courses, the Courses menu includes a scrollbar.


Note: Once users customize their courses list, the Dashboard and Global Navigation Courses menu only display courses that have been set as a favorite. Customizing the course list means a user has clicked the All Courses link in the Courses menu and manually favorited at least one course in the Courses list.


Term List Future Group

The Terms drop-down list includes a group for future terms. This change helps admins more easily locate terms with no start date or a start date in the future. Future terms are ordered alphabetically.


The Terms menu is updated in the following locations:

  • Account level: Courses page sidebar (Course Filtering section) and Add New Course window (via the + New Course button)
  • Account level: Users page sidebar (Choose Term section)





Move-To Menu

ePortfolio pages and sections can be reordered using a Move-To dialog window. The Move-To option is part of the ePortfolio page settings when there are two or more pages in the ePortfolio. This change improves accessibility for all Canvas users in managing ePortfolio pages.

Pages can still also be ordered by dragging and dropping directly in the sidebar.




Multiple Grading Periods

This feature is used with the Multiple Grading Periods feature option, which can be enabled by an institutional admin in Account Settings.

Close Date Assignment Edits

In assignments, if any due date is in a closed grading period, instructors who edit an assignment view a message that all attributes except the Rich Content Editor, the submission type drop-down menu, and peer review option have been locked to editing. If an assignment is not locked, all fields are editable as normal.


Grading period restrictions only apply to instructors; they do not apply to admins.



  Other Updates



User Interface

Canvas Icons Update

The existing Canvas icon font has been updated with a new Instructure icon library that compiles icons as SVG files. This new library also enables consistency across all Canvas products and is already incorporated into the Canvas mobile apps.


  • All new Instructure icons can be viewed in the Github Instructure Icons documentation page. Default icons display as solid icons, though the library also includes an outline variation.
  • Previous icons can be viewed by adding /styleguide#icons to the end of any Canvas production URL. (Icons are no longer displayed in the style guide when viewed from a Canvas beta URL.)

Most Canvas icons have been updated to reflect the new Instructure icon library. Remaining icons are still being updated and will be available in a future release.









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


API Index

The API Index page encourages the use of string IDs.


Appointment Groups API

The Appointment Groups API includes an option to include all context codes.


Collaborations API

The Collaborations API documents the Collaborations object.


Canvas open source contributions: Collaboration missing from API documentation


Conversations API

The Conversations API removes reference to removing subject lines.

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