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Community Member

Friendly advice: Disable "Use remote version of Rich Content Editor AND sidebar"

UPDATE - October 7, 2016

The majority of issues expressed below have been corrected--though in fact the Feature Option that includes the Sidebar is NO longer listed for administrators.  There are, however, a few lingering issues:

  • Thanks to​ for pointing out the biggest one:  the Files tab no longer displays course files in alphabetical order.
  • Also, check this recent discussion for an interesting observation made by community member​ regarding what students can see on the sidebar while using some areas the rich content editor is available to them.  Thanks to both and​ for finding additional information.  I at first thought it may have been related to the new sidebar, but James found out this has been an issue since January 25, 2016, which makes it pre-date even the new sidebar.
  • Still unanswered (so far as I can tell) is why this was rolled out as an enabled feature rather than one that had to be turned on.

UPDATE - September 4, 2016

(So clearly I have nothing better to do on the Sunday of Labor Day weekend, but I always want to give Instructure the benefit of the doubt, since I think the majority of us in the Community will agree that they are a good company to deal with, listen to their customers, and have provided most of us a better experience than other LMS companies.)

To be absolutely fair, as the Product Release Notes point out, the new sidebar applies ONLY to Pages and Syllabus. Important areas to be sure, but not to Assignments or Quizzes, to name two important areas where these bugs do not exist because the new sidebar has not been deployed there.  That said, I have to report that as of today, the reported behavior of the box file previewer not working with newly-uploaded files using the Upload a new file link under the Files tab on the sidebar continues to NOT work.  The file will indeed link correctly, but cannot be seen in box.  I tested this using an up-to-date version of Chrome (Version 53.0.2785.89 m (64-bit) ) on a Windows 10 machine.

Also, unless I missed it elsewhere (always a possibility), it was never explained why this "Feature Option" was enabled FOR us rather than being an opt-in feature, as most newer deployments have been in the past. 

But, also to be fair, I have not yet had faculty or student complaints regarding this bug, though I also safely say that the majority of our faculty use Assignments and Quizzes much more than they are likely to update/create Pages.  (Though I would hope they are using the Syllabus page!  Perhaps they have not missed the box previewer yet.) 

Despite the title of this Discussion, I have let this option remain enabled since August 27 on our production instance, though I had shut it off previously.  Part of my reasoning is we are smaller in size than other Canvas institutions, and I am in a position to turn it OFF immediately if complaints start coming, since I have administrative access.

UPDATE - August 27, 2016

According to the Production Release Notes for August 27, 2016, the information I indicated below regarding the bugs in the new enhanced sidebar were supposed to be fixed in production on August 24.  This information can be found listed under the Fixed Bugs for the Rich Content editor, in the File Links section.

While MOST of the bugs described below have been dealt with, not quite all have.  You can now upload a file using the Files tab and click Upload a new file and have it link as it used to--both by highlighting the text first as well as simply uploading a file at the end of a sentence.  In the latter case, the file name itself will show (as it used to) rather than the word Link, which was one of my complaints.

What does NOT work, oddly enough, is the box file previewing service for the linked file if you upload a new file in Word format directly to any Page.  Everything works as it used to when creating a new Assignment.  (I have not tried this on Discussions yet.)  But if you are creating a new Page, and then click the Files tab and Upload a new file and that file is a Word document, it does not matter if you highlighted text first or simply create a link at file at the end of a sentence.  The box file previewer simply will not appear.  Below is an example I did at about 10:00 a.m. CST on a new page:

sample page with link.jpg

The box file previewer works just fine if the file in question is a PDF. And again, this does not apply to Assignments, where both Word and PDF files both appear with the box file previewer:

sample homework assignment.jpg

I might add, as well, that I noticed with this morning's update that the Feature Option of Use remote version of Rich Content Editor AND sidebar was AGAIN automatically enabled for our campus.  This leaves me with a major dilemma because while the vast majority of the features are, admittedly, working properly, it annoys me that it's still not quite fixed....and was deployed.

Hi Folks -

I'm increasingly annoyed with the new enhanced sidebar that is being rolled out and has already been the subject of a few conversations here:  Canvas Production Release Notes (2016-08-06) .  As​ pointed out, creating a link in the RCE with the enhanced sidebar, which used to display the file name itself, now displays the word Link instead.  I can almost live with that, but what I can NOT live with is one of the great features that Canvas routinely had with links:  the ability to preview the file online using the box service.  Once the content is saved, while that new Link indeed links to the file correctly, the file previewer icon never comes.  I have seen this repeatedly in workshops that I've been conducting the past few weeks.

Secondly--and this was really annoying because I often demonstrate this in workshops--when using the "enhanced" sidebar, you can no longer highlight text and upload a file to have that file linked at the same time. Previously, of course, if you highlighted text and clicked "Upload a new file" under the FILES tab on the right, the file would get uploaded AND the text you highlighted would link to that newly-uploaded file.  Not with the enhanced sidebar.  Interestingly, the file will still (usually) upload but no link is created.  The faculty member would have to know this, of course (there's really no indication that the file uploaded other than double-checking the FILES area) and then re-link the file again.

To be fair, either of the above methods of creating a link works IF the file is uploaded to the FILES area first; links to file names will still appear as is (with the box previewer), and highlighting text to link to a file also works.  BUT, this can no longer be done in one "motion," as it were, as it has been able to be done for years using the conventional RCE and sidebar.

Bottom line:  unless Instructure is planning to fix this--and soon before the start of the academic year--I would strongly encourage the admins out there to disable the option to "Use remote version of Rich Content Editor AND sidebar."  And the frustrating thing is I think this got enabled on its own; it wasn't until I checked the forums and Production/Beta Notes that I spotted this new "feature."

I'm also frustrated--and yes, I realize it is called BETA--that a feature like this got enabled without further testing to see that these things occurred.  We have enough issues with faculty members who don't like using an LMS without giving them more reasons to dislike it! Smiley Wink

(Oh, and I filed a ticket on this before I realized this behavior was caused by the new sidebar and proceeded to disable it; but I would still encourage you to file something.  My own ticket was 01457181--but again, that was before I traced the issue to the new sidebar.)

##End of Rant##

54 Replies
Learner II

Appreciate the advice and explanation Ken! I am also mystified why this was enabled for us instead of just leaving it turned off and letting us turn it on when we were ready, but I am thankful we can turn it off and everything works the way it should. :smileysilly:

Community Member

Thank you for this!! I was also having issues in my environment when I was testing this and will certainly NOT be enabling it.

One thing that really stuck out to me as strange was the fact that under the Feature Options, the similar option, "Use remote version of Rich Content Editor" is still tagged as BETA but yet it forced into On. If it's still in beta, then why do I not have the option to disable it?

Community Team
Community Team

Hello, Ken,

I looked at your support ticket to see if you had mentioned anything about the Word document behavior originally. I was interested to see that your ticket is still sitting with your support admin and has been since August 16. Our support team would be happy to look into that behavior for you if your admin would be willing to escalate it; I'd recommend replying back to your original ticket with an update about the Microsoft Word files and then asking your admin to send it to Canvas Support.

Thank you,


Well, that's rather frustrating!  Thank you, erinhallmark, for calling that to my attention!  I'm going send another email or two!

Hi, Ken,

Looks like our support team identified the behavior and our engineering team is working on it right now. When we have an update I'd be happy to let you know.

Thank you!


Thank you as always, erinhallmark​!  Not only for this but for everything you do for all of us to keep us sane!

Community Member

I can not second strongly enough the outrage at the awful redesign of the RCE sidebar. It looks like it won't be deleted from the BETA, and is going to be made a permanent feature, which is borderline unacceptable. I wrote a long email to one of the engineers detailing the significantly increased difficulty this "new" feature represented, and the reply was "I went through and can understand your concerns."

For the engineers and designers, I'll paste in the email I had sent - I have a project for you to help illustrate how much more difficult editing pages now is.

<< I will attach a screen shot, and then will export the Canvas site I have constructed to see how you recommend the changes I am trying to do with the new layout.

I am NOT having problems with the Pages menu on the left bar, nor the window that lists all the pages. Not at all; I grasp that perfectly fine, and can sort them by created date, modified date, name, etc. That part is not the issue. The problem I have is with the newly redone Rich Content Editor that appears in the right hand column of a page I am trying to EDIT.  See in screenshot below, RCE_1
The issues with these changes are especially frustrating to me, because the IMAGES tab still is set up in the old manner, which is very useful. You should see the immediate contrast between the two boxes below (RCE_1 and Images). The Images tab is very helpful; the Links tab is terrible. You notice on the RCE_Window how long is the RCE box for Links relative to the text box I am trying to edit. It's at least 2 full screen-lengths down that I have to scroll up/down to add in links on the actual page I am trying to edit - ONCE I CAN FIND THE PAGE I'm trying to add, because they are listed in reverse (??!) chronological order of edits.

To illustrate how unbelievably poor this new design is, please help me with the following:

I have also attached below the entire export for my Canvas SITE. Could you please create a sandbox for yourself, import this site, and then do the following:

Please edit the following page - OVERVIEW, PART II: THE MIDDLE AGES.

Change the page by doing the following: before the section "Groups and Kingdoms of the Middle Ages," please add the following LINKS: a.) Columbus Day Makeup Lecture (page already exists); b.) Leo, Sermon on Succession (page already exists); c.) an entirely new page titled "Saxons."?

europe-i-export.imscc - Google Drive

[I hope this will work!!]

It is preposterously hard now to edit pages and add links, insert links or change links. Please let me know if I have explained this clearly or other ways I can express the issue crystal clear.>>

images.pngRCE_2.pngRCE_Windown length.pngRCE_Shot 1.png

If I may, I think the most succinct way to summarize the issue is that the RCE sidebar lists should scroll. I am in 100% agreement that scrolling the entire page should not be necessary to scroll through a long list of items in the sidebar. This was the functionality of the previous sidebar, and I see no logical reasoning for removing it.

When testing the new sidebar in a small testing course, the issue is not readily apparent. However, when working in a course with a long list of Pages, as in the above example, the issue becomes quite obvious that the functionality is flawed.

Community Team
Community Team

Hey, everyone,

Based on previous feedback, engineering is already working on making the sidebar more user friendly. So just watch the release notes for further updates. Smiley Happy