Use of Stylus with DOCViewer

This idea has been developed and deployed to Canvas

This idea is applicable to any 2-in-1 / hybrid device with stylus capacity eg Chromebook, Surface Pro 4, Yoga, ASUS etc.

Microsoft's recent education event (May 2017) highlighted the increasing opportunities for schools to invest in low cost 2-in-1 hybrids running Windows 10. Since then at least 5 new devices have been released - 5 Budget Windows Hybrids 2-in-1 Tablets and Laptops for Schools – Colour My Learning . Many schools, including our own, are now looking at these as viable alternatives to 1-1 iPads.

The potential of inking is huge, not just in the hands of students but for teachers and marking.

Canvas has just released DOCViewer in Beta. As yet it is not possible to annotate work inline using the stylus (at least on my Surface Pro).

We would love to see inking/hand-written/stylus based annotations being available for those using Canvas via the browser.

This idea has been added to our product plan for Q1 2019 and will influence development within Canvas. Follow this idea to receive updates as they are available.

:smileyinfo: Adding this idea to our product plan means we will be working on it, but it does not guarantee that it will be developed exactly as defined by the idea, or that it will be added to the production environment.

Read more about the feature idea process:

Comments from Instructure

For more information, please read through the .

Community Novice

Are we supposed to annotate with a button depressed the whole time? That is a strange thing indeed.  

Canvas - just let us know when it is working properly. Certainly not, as mentioned with Surface Pro4 and Microsoft pen or Lenovo yoga(all our teachers) yet. Fingers crossed. 

Community Contributor

I'm having similar problems to others.

Surface pro 3 with the surface pen

The pen scrolls.  When I hold a button down it writes.  However if I lift up, the tick/delete box appears, so I have to continuously write joined up to prevent this happening.  I'd like finger for scroll, pen for annotate.

Community Coach
Community Coach

We have a number of Surface Pro 3 stylus - thanks for letting me know - not looking good!

Community Novice

I noticed a further difference between annotating with the touchpad or mouse and with my stylus.

When you select the "Free Draw Annotation" tool, you get that little paintbrush cursor.

When I use the touchpad or mouse and hold the left button (Windows 10 with Chrome), I draw right where the tip of the little paintbrush is located.

If instead I use the stylus, when I depress the "right-click" button, a little circle appears about 3 mm or so above the tip of the paintbrush and I draw at the center of the circle.  The paintbrush icon is still always visible on the screen, but my annotation is a bit above the paintbrush icon.  I think this may be another reason (in addition to trying to hold that button down) that it is difficult to write clearly in DocViewer with the stylus.

Community Coach
Community Coach

Two months down the line there is still no improvement to this feature. Is this it?

The response to having to hold down the button on the pen is NOT an effective and long term solution.

How do I/we go about asking Instructure to make improvements - does it require another Idea to be submitted? Is it not possible to write some code that activate the stylus with a single click then deactivates it with another click?

Community Novice

I have a feeling my retirement will happen before this problem is fixed.

Donnie Hallstone

Math Division

Green River College

Community Coach
Community Coach

hahahahahahaha :O)

Community Novice

I'm more interested in this from a logistical perspective as much as my desire to be able to annotate effectively in SpeedGrader. With so many examples of apps running serviceable handwriting features on so many platforms, we know there's a way for this to happen. Here we are, though, stuck with a somewhat clunky solution that kind of works but doesn't.

SpeedGrader works fine for me on an iPad Pro with Apple Pencil but is not functionally usable on a Windows 10 touch-screen laptop. For work purposes, I need it to function on the latter. You're so close to a solution, Canvas!

I hope the team haven't thrown their arms up over this in exasperation, but it has become quite hushed in here on the Instructure front.

Is there any movement on this? If not, do we (as Gideon asks) need to submit another idea and go through the process again?

I'd love to hear from someone who knows.

Kudos to Gideon and others for keeping the issue alive.


Community Participant

I would completely agree. This needs to work on Windows, and work well. Speedgrader is one of the main selling points of Canvas but the inability to practically use it on Windows is a real turn-off for users. It's hard to push adoption when this feature has been implemented so badly.

Community Novice

I agree. It seems that the instructor side of education is so Windows intense that Canvas would have to respond. Is it a technology issue or one of those “We are aiming at the student side so we care more about apple and android.” ? Or is it something else? I can’t understand why so many sites work well with the pen and this one does not. ☹