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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

Thanks so much for the update, Erin!

Also it is a bother that the content is not is a logical order either

Community Member

Thank you for the info, Ken.  I wish I had seen it a few days ago.  We've been battling two separate issues that turned out to be caused by this feature.  When uploading a file through the insert content menu, the file structure is lost, so it is difficult to tell which folder is which and which directory they reside in.  Secondly, we found that mp4 links inserted into a page stopped displaying the thumbnail / preview link. 

We just happened to retest the video link issue after figuring out the feature option was the culprit of the first issue.

In my opinion, a feature in beta should never be turned on in a production environment.  It should always be the customer that turns this on.


Engineering is also work on this, too. Smiley Happy Thanks for your patience!



Community Member

Thank​ for starting this conversation and to everyone for sharing their findings.

I completely agree that this sort of beta feature should not be turned on automatically for production sites - this should be up to each institution plus isn't this is what the test and beta instances are for?

That is my concern, as well,​.  I know that other factors come into play with programming these things.  Perhaps a third-party provider stops supporting a product, or something is not necessarily deployed to every server farm, for whatever reason.  But this seems out of the norm for Instructure to just turn something on like that.  And, it's up to the always-responsive erinhallmark​ (for whom I still think we need to all pitch in and give a holiday bonus to one of these years!) to explain it to the rest of us.  I would really like to hear from a higher up at Instructure as to why they thought it was necessary to enable this for everyone by default.  It may seem like a minor thing when compared to the new UI, where we had (literally) months to decide whether to turn it on.  But nothing is minor during Hell Week the first week of school for many of us.

Community Team
Community Team

Hello everyone,

As an update, our engineers deployed some additional fixes to the Rich Content Editor last night. Media and files display inline previews, and embedded images retain the URL, alt text, and dimensions.

As previously noted, this feature was generally designed to only minimally affect the front end of Canvas. Our engineers will be assessing all the resulting behaviors that occurred so they can improve their future processes.



Hi Erin,

Thank you for the information and updates. I just started investigating this feature option yesterday due to faculty concerns (many faculty with whom I work love Box inline preview). In tests I have done yesterday afternoon and this morning, it appears that one of the functional issues noted by is still not working properly, namely the preview functions for documents newly uploaded using the content selector. I tried adding a couple new pages with a .docx, a .pdf, and a .m4v file. The previews were created as expected when I used the content selector to insert previously uploaded files, but they did not work for files uploaded using the content selector. Also, the auto-open and disabled inline preview options does not appear in the link options for these files.

Thanks again,

Just to add on to Sam's point -- it seems that the preview feature is working, but that the proper CSS classes aren't being added to newly-uploaded documents using the content selector. If the "instructure_scribd_file" class is added with the existing "instructure_file_link" class on the <a> tag for documents, the inline previews appear and work. Likewise, the videos need an id of "media_comment_maybe" and a class of "instructure_video_link" on the <a> tag to function as expected. Those parameters don't appear to be added currently with new uploads.



Hi, Sam,

Since our support team and engineers do not read posts in the community, would you mind submitting a support case so our support team can confirm these behaviors? It's always best to submit support cases as they'll include information about your environment and Canvas URL.