Canvas Beta Release Notes (2015-02-09)

Instructure Alumni
Instructure Alumni

In this beta release, Canvas has a new feature for Files and an updated feature for Outcomes. We also have several design enhancements for the Gradebook and all Publish buttons throughout Canvas. View the beta release notes and let us know your thoughts! Beta notes also include platform/integration updates for third-party developers.

The beta environment is for testing new and updated features, which are subject to change based on user feedback. Learn more about Canvas Beta.

  New Features



Usage Rights

As part of the new Files design, institutions can require their instructors to indicate usage rights for all course files before publishing the file to a course. (Currently, Usage Rights does not apply to files within Canvas Commons.)

Usage Rights is a course-level feature option called Require Usage Rights for Uploaded Files. A course-level feature option means that once the feature is enabled by the institutional admin, the feature can be enabled by instructors on a course-to-course basis.

  • If you are an institutional admin, please contact your Customer Success Manager to enable this feature.
  • If you are an instructor and do not see Usage Rights available to you as a Feature Option within Course Settings, please contact your institutional admin.

When usage rights is enabled, Files includes copyright information in a new column. Files can be sorted to view files that include or don’t include usage rights. Each icon shows the type of usage right assigned to the file. Files with a warning icon mean the files cannot be published until usage rights have been set.

Note: Only individual files display usage rights icons. File folders cannot hold an individual usage attribute and therefore do not display an icon, but folders can be used to specify rights for files within the entire folder.


Viewing Usage Rights for Existing Files

When the Usage Rights feature is enabled, files that were previously added to a course will display a warning icon but are not affected by the publishing limitation. Files that are already published remain published; to remove the warning icon, users can set usage rights at any time. However, if the state of the file (published, unpublished, restricted) needs to be changed, a usage right is required before the state can be changed.

Setting Usage Rights for New Files

Usage rights can be set directly by clicking the file’s warning icon. Users can also click the file and open the settings menu, or click the file and open the usage rights window in the files toolbar.


When setting a usage right, users can set the file with one of five usage rights. If you are an instructor and are not sure which usage right applies to your file, please consult your institutional admin for guidance:

  • I hold the copyright (original content created by you)
  • I have obtained permission to use the file (authorized permission by the author)
  • The material is in the public domain (explicitly assigned to public domain, cannot be copyrighted, or is no longer protected by copyright)
  • The material is subject to fair use exception (excerpt or summary used for commentary, news reporting, research, or analysis in education)
  • The material is licensed under Creative Commons; this option also requires setting a specific Creative Commons license

Users can also enter the copyright holder information in the Copyright Holder field.


On the Files page, usage rights can also be set for individual folders. Access the usage rights for a folder the same way you would open an individual file. In the Manage Usage Rights window, setting a usage right for the folder will set that usage right for all files that already exist in the folder or that may be added to the folder.


Setting Usage Rights and Publishing New Files

Users can set a usage right and publish the file at the same time by clicking the file’s unpublished icon. The file window displays both the usage right options as well as the file state options. Files will not allow the file to be published until it has been assigned a usage right.


Viewing Usage Rights in Files

All copyright information is included as part of the file’s information. If allowed to view course Files, students can view the copyright icon on the Files page and view any additional usage rights information in the file preview window.


Usage Rights in the Content Selector

When Usage Rights is enabled, instructors can upload files and assign usage rights when uploading and adding files directly to an assignment or page in the Rich Content Editor. If a usage right is not selected as part of the upload process, the file will upload as an unpublished file. The file cannot be published until a usage right has been set.

If instructors choose to keep the file unpublished, the instructor may also want to keep the assignment or page unpublished as well so that students are not affected by files that they cannot access.


  Updated Features



Move-To Option

Outcomes and outcome groups can be rearranged using a Move option. Designed for keyboard navigation, each outcome displays a Move Outcome button, which can be used to move the outcome to another Outcomes group.


Outcome groups also display a Move Outcome Group button to allow groups to be arranged as well. These Outcome options are located at both the Outcomes account and course levels.


  Other Updates



Gradebook Toolbar

The Gradebook toolbar includes a revised design to help instructors manage their Gradebook data more easily. No functionality has been affected by this change.

The Settings menu and sections sorting menu are located on the right side of the Gradebook, and the import and export features have been removed from the Settings menu and replaced as standalone buttons.


Publish Button

As part of our interface redesign, Canvas publish buttons include a flatter design with no shading. More information can found in our Styleguide at

No functionality has been affected by this change. However, if you have changed the appearance of your publish button via custom CSS, please check to ensure your style works with the new design.


  Platform/Integration Updates


External Tools


Canvas sends an extension parameter for assignment launches that allows the tool provider to pass back a raw score value instead of a percentage. Learn more about Grading External Tools.



Users can set and remove usage rights and list licenses in the Files API. The List Files and Get File endpoints also include a usage rights parameter.


In the Enrollments API, users who are using the ID parameter and are not logged in to Canvas (authenticated with a valid token) will receive an unauthorized error. Previously the error message was an internal server error.


In the Outcomes API, the API displays more specific error messages when users specify invalid variables for the calculation_method and calculation_int parameters.

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