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Developer Tools for the Canvas User > Tutorial #3


For this tutorial we are going to combine what we learned in tutorial's 1 and 2. The goal will be to make an AJAX request with JavaScript to the Canvas API, and then when the request is successful update the DOM with an updated value. The Document Object Model or DOM, is the webpage as your browser sees it. I'll get you through this tutorial without any more details, but if you're curious here are some resources:

W3 Schools - JavaScript DOM Methods

MDN - Document Object Model (DOM) - Web APIs


As part of this rapidly escalating tutorial I am no longer going to use pictures. Anything you need should be referenced from the previous tutorials.


  1. Grab the snippet from the last tutorial and add the following code (lines 10-14) to the end.
    var payload = {
         "nickname":"My W○RKR∞M ⸚ Test"     // what we are changing the nickname to

         url : '/api/v1/users/self/course_nicknames/1214595',
         type: 'PUT',
         data: payload
    // when the request is resolved
    .done(function(response, status) {
    • The jQuery done() method allows us to do something when the AJAX request is complete. For now, copy or type this code into your Console tab, and press Enter
    • The console.log() method allows us to display messages to the console. This is generally used for debugging or displaying other messages while developing. The user will never see these messages unless they have the Console tab open.
    • The response should look just like the one you saw in the Preview pane of the Network tab from Tutorial #2
  2. Now, you will update the name of the Course Card...
    Note: We could have done this with the payload value, but this is a better example of making an AJAX request and doing something when the request is finished and successful.
  3. First we have to find a Selector we can use to identify the element we want to change. 
    Right click on the Course Card where you see the course nickname (the text with color), and Inspect Element
    Hopefully, you will land on a element that looks something like this
    <span style="color:#FDC010;" data-reactid=".1.$1266609.">W○RKR∞M⸚CARROLL</span>
    Note the style="" attribute with value color:#FDC010;
    We will use this as our selector for this tutorial.[1][2]

  4. Let's update our code and use jQuery to update the element after the AJAX request completes, see line 12
    We will use the response.nickname value
    var payload = {
         "nickname":"My W○RKR∞M ⸚ Test"     // what we are changing the nickname to

         url : '/api/v1/users/self/course_nicknames/1214595',
         type: 'PUT',
         data: payload
    }).done(function(response, status) {
    Press Enter, after updating the code in the Console tab
  5. You should see the nickname of your course card update
    If not, try refreshing the page and reset or adjust some of the values you are passing with the code.


Congrats, AGAIN! 

This is the basic workflow of a Canvas end-user modification. These are some of the fundamental practices used in making interactive web pages all across the web. You can expand these skills to make your own custom Canvas modifications. Remember to review the Canvas API Documentation and thoroughly plan out the objective and goals your script is trying to achieve.


[1] There a plenty of resources on the web for CSS and HTML selectors for interacting with DOM elements via JavaScript, check with Google.

[2] This is because Canvas uses React - A JavaScript library for building user interfaces, which allows elements to load or update after the Primary DOM loads. This is noticeable via the attribute data-reactid="". Usually unique elements will have an id="" attribute if the element is unique and a class="" attribute if there are similar elements. This creates problems when jQuery tries to interact with these elements, because they are not part of the page when jQuery loads. We would prefer to use predictable Selectors whenever possible. This is a more advanced topic and may be covered in a later tutorial.


 Rapid Escalation

Repeat Tutorial 3 and update the color of the Course Card, after sending a new color to the Canvas API.

Developer Tools for the Canvas User > Tutorial #2


Before getting started with APIs, read through paragraphs 1-5 of the linked thread by Stuart Ryan

Canvas APIs: Getting started, the practical ins and outs, gotchas, tips, and tricks

Stuart confirmed there is a working beta environment on the Canvas Free For Teachers accounts at

To save on lengthy screenshots, I've combined some panels, please let me know if this causes confusion.


  1. Now that you have the console open, click on the Network tab, and the ⃠ Clear button on the left
    This will clear all the requests that happened during page load
    Drag out some space with the border between the ViewPort (on the left) and the Developer Tools
  2. Now click on the edit button at the top right of any Course Card, change the nickname and the color, click Apply
    You should see two new requests with the course number
  3. Click on the request prefixed with course_ and then the Network Headers tab
    Take a quick peak at the following:
    Request URL - this is the URL (or endpoint) of the request we want to send to the API to change the color, it contains your user and course id's
    MethodPUT - HTTP, and all the Request Methods - HTTP | MDN 
    Status Code200 OK, and all the Response Status Codes - HTTP | MDN 
    Content Type
  4. Now click on the Network Preview tab
    This is JSON, I hope you clicked that last link.
    I'll walk you through with Colors first, it's a simple place to start.
    // this is a simple JSON object, with the hex value of the color you chose
    // you'll usually see JSON like you see in the console, with all the white space removed
    {hexcode: "#F0592B"}

    // but it's often useful to nest it with tabs while you're working and learning
         hexcode: "#F0592B" // this is the data that was sent to Canvas to save the color

    // it has one (1) value, simple right?

    Canvas Developer Tools | Change Color

  5. That's 5 pieces of information we need to change the color with the API
    URL - API endpoint/api/v1/users/:id/colors/:asset_string
    MethodPUT - replaces all current representations of the target resource with the request payload.
    ID - your user idself - use self when you can't remember your user_id [1]
    Asset Stringcourse_# - get the course number from the course URL
    Parameters{hexcode: "#F0592B"} // the payload you will PUT to the URL
  6. Let's keep it simple and use jQuery to make this API request
    Type or copy the 10 lines below into the Console tab, and edit the course number in the URL
    After you get this snippet into the console, hit Enter
    var payload = { hexcode: '#FDC010' } // yellow

        url  : '/api/v1/users/self/colors/course_1214595',
         type: 'PUT',
         data: payload

    // #8BC34A - a green hex code

    {readyState: 1, setRequestHeader: ƒ, getAllResponseHeaders: ƒ, getResponseHeader: ƒ, overrideMimeType: ƒ, …}

  7. You should immediately see a response that looks something like the one above, we'll cover it in tutorial #3, click on the Network tab
    Review the Network Headers and the most recent request for course_#
    Hopefully you'll see Status Code of 200 OK
    If not, compare your code to the snippet above // comments can be ignored, or take a peak at tutorial 3
  8. Click on the Network Preview tab
    You should see a JSON object with the hexcode you sent with the request in the Console tab
  9. Refresh the page
    Unlike tutorial 1, this time you sent the data to the Canvas API where it was saved. When you refreshed the page, you got another copy of the Dashboard with the new color.
  10. Try It Again!
    Go back to the Console tab. To re-execute the last command/code you ran in the console, press the up arrow on your keyboard
    Copy the green hex code from the snippet, and replace the payload value, press Enter
    Pick a different Hex Code with W3 - HTML Color Picker



You've just used javascriptjqueryajax, and the Canvas api to Update custom color - Users - Canvas LMS REST API Documentation 

Review the documentation anytime you want to interact with Canvas programmatically. The documentation is a great starting point to any project, then planning how you will use it in your script or program.




  1. Let's continue to the Course Nickname.
    Click on the Network request without the course_ prefix, in the screenshot below it's 1214595
    Review the Headers and the Preview tabs as you did above
    Canvas Developer Tools | Set Course Nickname
  2. Some more JSON, this time with a few more parameters, let's take a look
    // you see a string like this
    {"course_id":1214595,"name":"W○RKR∞M⸚CARROLL","nickname":"My W○RKR∞M ⸚"}

    // we can indent and format, making it easier to read
         "course_id":1214595,          // the id of the course we want to rename
         "name":"W○RKR∞M⸚CARROLL",     // the current nickname of the course
         "nickname":"My W○RKR∞M ⸚"     // what we are changing the nickname to
  3. Three values were returned in response to setting the Course Nickname using the Dashboard Card. However, we only need to send 1 value to change the nickname.
    Take a look at Set course nickname - Users - Canvas LMS REST API Documentation
    Note the Endpoint and the Method, it looks like this

     PUT /api/v1/users/self/course_nicknames/:course_id


  4. Let's update the snippet of code we used in the first section of Tutorial #2

    We need to update the payload with the nickname, and change the URL

    // update the payload with the values we need to set
    // indent them to be easier to read
    var payload = {
         "nickname":"My W○RKR∞M ⸚ Test"     // what we are changing the nickname to

         url : '/api/v1/users/self/course_nicknames/1214595',
         type: 'PUT',
         data: payload
  5. Copy and paste your code into the Console tab (unless you edited it there) and press Enter
  6. You should immediately see a response that looks something like the one above, we'll cover it in tutorial #3, click on the Network tab
    Review the Network Headers and the most recent request for course_#, hopefully you'll see Status Code of 200 OK
    If not, compare your code to the snippet above // comments can be ignored, or take a peak at tutorial 3
  7. Click on the Network Preview tab
    You should see a JSON object with the hexcode you sent with the request in the Console tab
  8. Refresh the page
    You should see your course change names
  9. Try It Again!
    Edit the snippet, change the nickname and press Enter


[1] Profile - Users - Canvas LMS REST API Documentation

      or in the browser console, try ENV.current_user_id


 Rapid Escalation

Check out Developer Tools #3 - Update the DOM with an AJAX Response  and we'll update the Dashboard without Refreshing the page

Developer Tools for the Canvas User > Tutorial #1


  1. On your Canvas Dashboard, Right Click on a Course Card and choose Inspect
    If you miss and the highlighted element is not exactly as shown, hover over the elements until you have the whole Course Card
    Look for the <div> elements with a class of ic-DashboardCard
  2. Choose Delete Element
    Canvas Browser Tools - Delete Element
    It's Gone!
    Canvas Browser Tools - Element Deleted
    Not Really.
    And you didn't break anything either. You deleted the element from the browser's local copy of the page, nothing on the server has changed.
    To get a new copy from Canvas, continue to step 3
  3. Refresh the page


All Done! After the refreshed page downloads, your Canvas Dashboard is back to normal.


There's no real purpose for doing this other than to walk you through finding elements to edit on the page, or to make this tutorial. I'm enrolled in a few more than the three courses seen here. For the average Canvas user this may be helpful for writing tutorials and other documentation, or maybe removing and modifying personally identifiable information to take and transfer screenshots safely.




  1. To modify an element on the page, right click on it or find it in the Elements tab, and choose Copy Copy Selector
    Canvas Developer Tools | Change HTML with JavaScript
  2. Next, click on the Console tab and type in // and paste the selector, press Enter (that is 2 forward slash's)
    This is a JavaScript comment (code that isn't executed) with an identifier we can use to change the content of the <h1> that displays the Dashboard page title
    You should also see undefined on the line below, this is because nothing was executed and nothing was returned
  3. Using either of the 1 line jQuery* snippets below, you can change the title of the Dashboard page or remove the last Dashboard Card from the page
    // change the page title/header
    $('#dashboard_header_container > div > h1').html('My Dashboard')
     // remove the last dashboard card

    Each line should edit the page immediately and the console will respond with an updated DOM object

    Canvas Developer Tools | Change and Delete
  4. Refresh the page to clear your changes


* The usage of jQuery here is for demonstration purposes. Canvas currently provides jQuery, however it may be deprecated in the future. The following snippet shows how to change the page Title with vanilla JavaScript.

// change the page title/header
document.querySelector("#dashboard_header_container > div > h1").textContent = "My Dashboard";




 Rapid Escalation

If you want to make changes to your Canvas Dashboard more permanently, check out this thread and Github repository.

Sorting Dashboard Course Cards 

canvancement/dashboard at master · jamesjonesmath/canvancement · GitHub 


For a deeper look at modifying Canvas pages with Javascript, look at Hiding Content from Certain Roles

While collaborating recently, I’ve found myself referring to the Javascript Console, or is it Developer Tools, maybe Web Inspector; what about adding Browser before, do I provide a link? Sometimes, I don’t know whether to provide a link to an article that discusses the particulars of opening, inspecting or getting to the tab I want to reference; or if I’m insulting someone. So, I've decided to create a series of short tutorials that will hopefully walk new developers through some basic tooling around on Canvas with a Browser and JavaScript. I will also try to use these as references in future posts and discussions. I hope they are helpful, feedback is welcome. Enjoy!


Before we get started, let me point out that I won’t be getting lengthy on how to open the tools in each browser since everyone can do that with Google, and the easiest way is to right click the web page and select Inspect Element or Inspect, if you're using Chrome.


The following is a brief, but detailed, and rapidly escalating tutorial of things any Canvas User can do with Developer Tools. Along the way, I will share some community resources that will help guide you with additional information.


tutoriallevelfocus (tab in developer tools)
#1 - Delete and modify elements, and Refreshfreshmanelements
#2 - Update a course nickname with the APIsophomorenetwork, console
#3 - Updating the DOM and Handling Responsesjuniorconsole, elements
#4 - JavaScript XHR for Canvasseniorconsole, network
#5 - Mutation Observers & Reactmutant


// indexing a few related resources

API Testing: Postman by Garth Egbertadvancedapi requests, json


 While searching around the community for this series, I stumbled upon this comment by James Jones.


The problem with JavaScript resources is that, for the basic stuff, you're not trying to learn JavaScript, you're trying to accomplish a specific task. There's no book or website that I want to sit through the whole thing to learn how to program in JavaScript. I don't want to start with "Hello world." I don't have time to start with "Hello world." I want to solve the problem that needs solved and get back to life.


My primary resources are the encyclopedia (Mozilla Developer Network documentation) and the commentary on it (Stack Overflow), using Google to get me to the content I need. I often start with a solution from Stack Overflow and then go look up the right way to do it using MDN.

I'll also add that W3 and W3Schools are great resources for what we're doing.


If you have questions or need assistance, please ask in a comment, it will help others.

If you work through these tutorials and find any issues (or Canvas breaking changes) please let me know and I will get it fixed right away.

Please let me know if you would like to contribute, I would be happy to add new tutorials and information. Contribute new tutorials with API endpoints that work for user/student roles, no advanced permissions.