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Community Advocate
Community Advocate

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

Many thanks to Ken, Sam, and Erin!!!

I will out myself as the faculty member who begged the most excellent Sam Timme with help for this and I appreciate both the discussion initiated by Sam which helped us diagnose the problem and Erin's response.

As I said to Sam, I noticed the problem and asked my students whether or not this was an issue for them (as I suspected it was) and they vehemently responded YES. When I told them on Friday (9/2/2016) about the pursuit of a resolution for the issue they were very happy.

We all agreed that the feature (inline preview) is one of the features that makes Canvas a better LMS than our previous one because it prevents the unnecessary and undesirable clutter that occurs with automatic/forced downloading of materials. Many of us in the vast masses are not good about the easy prevention measures that keep those downloads from happening and having the inline preview helps protect us against ourselves.

Now I'll get back to searching the community for how to solve a simple issue with my tables.

Thank you all for your help. This is the sort of discussion that makes faculty feel supported within a larger community of people who want things to work.



Community Advocate
Community Advocate

Wow--good catch,​!


Hey, Sam,

We've been looking into this further and I'm not entirely sure the fix the team made applied to document files, which may be why you aren't seeing those work correctly. We've passed on the info to the engineers for them to review.




I'm still turning it off.  I don't really see the benefit here and Canvas support could not even explain what this feature does.

Our experience is that the alphabetical order of pages is lost, but also that the html code of the underlying page shows, sometimes briefly and sometimes it gets stuck there.  Turning this option off seems to mitigate both issues. 

Community Member

I was very happy to come across this post as I have submitted support tickets over the last few weeks asking why auto open will no longer work for links, I've worked around this by going into the HTML and adding the code manually,  why I can't upload files from the sidebar, and why my pages are no longer in Alphabetical order in the side bar - which today working on a course that has 150+ pages is driving me crazy! So after locating this, I went into my Admin links to disable the "Use Remote Version of Rich Content Editor" but it does not seem to be possible. I have submitted a support ticket - but hoping this might help with a quicker response, and also because since this was never suggested to me in my previous support tickets I am losing faith.

Searching through the pages is literally adding  hours to my development time - which is really not making me happy! And having to manually add in the code for files to auto open, upload files before I need to use them...let's just say I could be done with this course if things were working like they did a month ago!


Hi - Use your Admin link to disable "Use Remote Version of Rich Content Editor AND Sidebar." You are right that "Use Remote Version of Rich Content Editor" is not changeable, but the one just underneath it--with AND Sidebar--should be.  At least, it is on our installation (still).

EDIT - Actually, that will not make a different with the order of the PAGES under the Links tab.  If I'm not mistaken, that's been an issue for awhile.


Thank you so much Ken! This worked my pages are back in Alphabetical order - which will save me so much time! That will teach me to look at ALL of the options instead of stopping when I don't think I can do what I need to!

Community Team
Community Team

Updates for your production environment! When the Use Remote Version of Rich Content Editor AND Sidebar is enabled:

  • The sidebar adds the preview option for new uploaded non-media files.
  • The Pages section (in the Links tab) lists pages alphabetically.




Thanks for the update, erinhallmark​!​ -- dare I suggest you try turning it on again?  While I do not have a class that I can think of off-hand that has as many as 150+ pages, my preliminary testing indicates that, as Erin mentions, the pages DO now appear in alphabetical order!  You may want to give it a try turning it back on real quick.  (Perhaps early some morning when no one may notice?!?)


Erin, has the HTML showing briefly or for an extended period of time when this feature is enabled been fixed?  Besides the alphabetical problem, that was the other issue we were running into.

Also, maybe I'm missing something obvious, but I still don't really understand the benefit of this feature.  If turning it off solves my problems, what benefits do I get from turning it on?