This document introduces Canvas DocViewer as introduced in Canvas Production Release Notes (2017-06-24). Additional related updates can be viewed in Canvas release notes as indicated by the Canvas Release Notes DocViewer tag.
Information regarding known behaviors will be updated as made available by our engineering team.
Canvas DocViewer automatically converts common documents types into web-viewable and interactive learning experiences. This feature replaces the current Box previewer and Crocodoc annotation tools in Canvas and provides improved performance.
Canvas DocViewer will be released according to the following timeline:
Beta Environment: Friday, June 2
DocViewer will apply to all courses in all beta environments ([yourschool].beta.instructure.com).
Free-for-Teacher: Monday, June 5
DocViewer will apply to all courses in our Free-for-Teacher account (canvas.instructure.com).
Production Environment: Monday, June 19, through Friday, June 23
DocViewer will apply to all courses in all production environments for paid accounts, including all international regions. Admins will be notified about production availability from Canvas Support.
DocViewer supports a variety of Microsoft, OpenDocument, and fixed layout formats as noted in What types of files can be previewed in Canvas?
In SpeedGrader, supported file types are rendered as PDFs and support annotations.
Files can also be viewed full screen.
While the submission details page and SpeedGrader both allow users to create general comments about a submission, annotations allow users to create and highlight specific comments within a submission. Both assignment graders and students can add annotations to a supported assignment file; however, annotations are not supported in anonymous peer reviews.
A DocViewer session is active for up to 10 hours after a submission is viewed for a student. A session can be restarted at any time by refreshing the submission page.
DocViewer includes a modern interface that looks and feels like Canvas and supports a variety of document and image types. The DocViewer toolbar displays the number of pages for a document, zoom in and out of the file, and use one of six annotation types for commenting: point, highlight, free text, strikeout, free draw, and area.
Users can create an annotation by clicking an annotation type. All annotation types support a variety of annotation colors.
Annotation selection is persistent, so the toolbar retains the current annotation type until another is selected.
All annotation types can be created without comments. Point and area annotation types display a comment text field immediately in the sidebar, but a comment is not required. Highlight, strikeout, and free draw annotation types display a document icon next to the annotation in the sidebar that can be clicked to create comments as necessary. All comments can be deleted by selecting the comment and clicking the comment’s Delete icon.
Hovering over the annotation displays the name of the person who made the comment.
All users can reply to any comments in the document by clicking the comment. However, comments and annotations can only be deleted by the user who created the comment or annotation. Annotations can be deleted by the user by selecting the annotation in the submission and clicking the Delete icon. Deleting the annotation will also remove any associated comments for the annotation.
Documents with annotations and comments can be downloaded from the menu bar. However, currently replies to comments are not included in the download.
DocViewer will continue to receive additional feature enhancements over future releases as indicated by the docviewer tag in Canvas Release Notes.
As originally released in Free-for-Teacher (FFT) and Beta environments, DocViewer included minimal accessibility included in all other document viewing and annotation applications.
On Friday, June 16, DocViewer released improved accessibility functionality that enables students to access annotations and comments with a screen reader, including information about the annotation type, author name, comment, and any reply comments at the end of the document. This release makes Canvas the first accessible annotation and document viewing service available.
The release of this functionality is only the first step of a larger goal to create an exceptional feedback experience that is accessible for all Canvas users. DocViewer will continue to be improved with in-document annotations and accessible author-created annotations.
Community feedback for DocViewer is welcome per Canvas Community Feedback Guidelines, which outlines general feedback, broken functionality, and feature enhancements.
For DocViewer, feature enhancements should include the DocViewer tag. Before submitting a new idea, please review all existing DocViewer feature ideas.
All current feature functionality is noted in Canvas Guides DocViewer documentation. Comments are also welcome for functionality clarification. Lessons will also be updated with all future enhancements as indicated in release notes.
Known notable behaviors are being triaged by the Canvas engineering team—feature ideas do not need to be submitted regarding their functionality:
Other behaviors may exist in DocViewer that are not included in this document. To receive updates as available, please submit a support case as noted in our Canvas Community Feedback Guidelines.
Information in this document will be updated as behaviors are resolved by the Canvas product team. Release notes feedback is also subject to release notes comment policies.
The Box document previewer allowed for certain programming language code files to be rendered inline so one could see the formatting and correct indentation. Here's an example of Box's preview for a .java file:
This was an improvement upon the Scribd previewer that Canvas used when we first adopted it. I know that if the new previewer doesn't support programming language syntax rendering, it will make some programming instructors (including me) very disappointed. But I suppose if the doc viewer is in the hands of Instructure engineers that it can be better addressed via a feature request. Am I correct in my assumptions?
Thank you for your comment. Per https://community.canvaslms.com/docs/DOC-11159-canvas-community-feedback-guidelines?sr=search&search... it may help if you accompany this comment with a feature idea you submitted?
I was curious if the Reply button on a teacher comment is to be tied into Submission Comment notifications.
And then I noted the reply by Deactivated user over at Insights: Canvas DocViewer . I love this direction!
I need some clarification. I read that Docviewer would replace Crocodoc because Box was phasing it out by the end of the year. Speedgrader uses Crocodoc. But I read that there will be a Speedgrader 2.0. I'm missing a connection here somehow. Help me drain the mud out of the creek bottom so I can see.
I'm updating and responding to comments on my feature request for additional code files support so I thought I would update the conversation here:
I did find out that the DocViewer supports .java file code inline preview:
Maybe there's additional file types you don't have in the list we don't know about yet?
SpeedGrader uses DocViewer to display student submissions. They are independent tools. Without DocViewer, SpeedGrader would only display the top menu bar and the sidebar, and the submissions themselves wouldn't be available.
Hope that helps!
I also wanted to do some checking on your comment
One issue our medical school sub-account is having is that it does not work in a mobile browser and many of their faculty users do not use the app, but use the mobile browser.
It is true that we do not support mobile browsers, however our engineers have done some testing. The viewer works well in mobile browsers, however the annotations (which is what I'm sure you are referencing) do not. It probably is best to encourage the faculty to download the SpeedGrader app if they are grading on mobile.
Thank you Renee --- yes, the medical school support folks did testing as well and are disappointed as Crocodoc did work in the mobile browser. They have no choice but to push faculty to the app, however that is not the current habit for the faculty and is a quite a big leap/change.
I see in the release notes that, "Some images and advanced document file types are currently not supported." Any idea when this will be improved? I just uploaded a jpg and png and I don't get the DocViewer. Will this come later? The pptx worked fine.
We just came across a fairly significant issue (at least for us). Our instructors record their lectures using either iSpring or Camtasia, both of which worked fine with Box. Now, neither are working with DocViewer. Has anyone else noticed this?
Really excited to see this development and the foresight shown by Canvas regarding the dropping of crocodoc by box.
I would echo this as an issue. Yes, it was in croco doc, and pedagogically the feedback 'conversation' can be very useful for both parties. But my worry is there is seems to be no clear indication for users that feedback has been commented on. Is that right? So until https://community.canvaslms.com/ideas/3254-making-feedback-more-visible-to-students this feature is hanging. Could it be an option to disable the comment on a comment feature on an account by account basis?
The ability to show documents in the browser, as with 'box' and now this canvas feature has been a bonus for staff and students. I guess a re-occurring issue going forward will be the limitations of your technology to take the file code and display it as accurately as possible. Both turnitin and box have had issues in doing this, as bits of weird file formatting have turned up. This can lead to students missing bits of information in the file, and staff missing bits of student submission.
Is there a plan for continuous testing with file formats as they develop, and methods for us to alert staff and students to avoid any overly complex formatting.
or am I just being a little too pessimistic
DocViewer currently supports the file types noted in the release notes above. Additional file types will be supported in a future release. We'll keep this document updated with the most current information as it is made available.
I noticed that too... Huge reduction in supported file types is not good... No images at all now? No excel?
In addition, there is now a 1 hour session expiration again, which was one of our biggest faculty frustrations with Crocodoc/Box... I understand having some kind of expiration, but for long papers and faculty who have to juggle multiple things throughout the day, 1 hour is extremely short for something that could cause them to lose a lot of work. Can you at least look into raising the expiration to 4 or 8 hours (a standard work day) now that DocViewer is an Instructure owned product.
I didn't know about the Chrome function, that's good to learn! I wanted to use the audio comment function - to record media and use the media format as the comment. Will the DocViewer keep it? Will the audio clips take course space? Can the audio comments be downloaded? Thanks.
The updated file list is the same list that is currently supported in Canvas: https://community.canvaslms.com/docs/DOC-10033-415241392
Our team is trying to provide as much transparency as possible related to their current tasks. They're still working on supporting the additional file types previously mentioned. As soon as they're available we'll update the document again.
I skimmed the comments and didn't see any reference to the issues I see in Module Pages.
1: It does not have a grabber to allow users to expand the viewer
2: It does not have a full screen ability
3: issues from crocodoc (the open in a new window icon) still does not work.
And finally (a personal issue I have with the way users interact):
Preview is not the default action (with download as the icon option.
I haven't seen this mentioned here so I will add it. In Crocodoc, when you did a strikeout on something, it would automatically put a text box above it so that you could easily type in the correction. This is much better than having the comment off to the side of the page like it does now. You can get around that by using the Freetext annotation, but this adds a lot of unnecessary work to what used to be a simple process.
I do like the looks of the new DocViewer, but it's come at a loss of functionality, which matters a lot more to me than design.
Can you please keep us up to date on the timing of this release. Speedgrader is an essential tool for our K12 teachers and if it gets incorporated into the Canvas Teacher App instead of being stand alone, we'll want to let them know as soon as possible. Thank you.
@joseph_allen , the best way to keep apprised of the timing of the https://community.canvaslms.com/community/ideas/canvas-teacher-app?sr=search&searchId=c06da576-29ca-... release, or indeed of any product priority, is to follow the space, along with the https://community.canvaslms.com/community/answers/releases?sr=search&searchId=af9710ca-4066-4d66-a3c..., because that's where updates will be posted first.
We've had a professor that isn't happy with the new Doc Viewer. This is what they had to say:
I would just like to provide a comment as feedback about the change to
the interface of the Canvas Doc viewer. The functionality does not
actually remain exactly the same, and this change is slowing me down and
making me less productive.
For example, freetext annotation in the new interface seems to overlay,
or block the view of, original text in the document. I am also finding
that it is harder to erase an unintended highlight, and that hitting the
backspace key in an effort to see if I can undo a highlight sometimes
results in taking me to a blank document - i.e. to another student's
upload, but the viewer does not show the actual document, it shows a
blank page. So if I want to actually see that other student's work, I
have to exit Canvas and log in again.
I am trying this in both Firefox and Chrome, and getting similar results.
I realize that my IT Service Desk colleagues do not make the decisions
that change the interface design; but I hope they will forward this
feedback to anyone at MSU who would be interested in instructor feedback
about how these changes affect productivity. I just used-up an hour of
time today making sense of, and navigating, these changes; and that is
an hour of time not spent on student instruction and feedback.
I definitely watch those places for formal announcements, but I was hoping insiders like Renee might help us understand which way the wind is blowing, i.e. give us hints of when things might be released for planning purposes before formal announcements. With Canvas typically releasing new stuff in the summer, timing is tricky as our schools start up in August and we have to communicate new functionality to teachers as early as possible.
Renee, Stefanie, and I are always happy to share all the information that we can. However, we have to have some perks to being insiders—and we really, really like our jobs and would prefer to keep them. (Have we mentioned that Instructure is hiring? Come join us. )
In respect to our product and engineering friends, they're working hard to bring mobile app improvements to you and we will simply encourage you to keep tabs on that feature priority space. Our mobile product manager will be more than happy to let you know when he has an update to share!
I’ve submitted a support ticket but didn’t know if others were having problems in the SpeedGrader iOS app for iPad. I’ve heard numerous reports from teachers that they can not scroll through documents, which makes it impossible to use right now.
Here is a video from one of our teachers: SpeedGrader not working on iPad
Sorry if this has already been answered or if this is an obvious one, but are the annotation tools only available on submitted assignments within SpeedGrader? It'd be great if there was a way to create an annotation assignment where an instructor could simply upload a document and have the whole class add annotations to it, similar to what Hypothes.is does. If this is part of the functionality of the DocViewer, can someone tell me how to do it?
That is a great idea @michael_mcgarry and something I hope gets added to the DocViewer if not already there. I suppose you could do a similar assignment with a shared Google Doc, but perhaps the Hypothes.is tool you mentioned has annotation options that are more focused and/or academic.
We used the Box preview tool to embed auto-open previews of files (Syllabi, PPTs, PDFs, Docs, etc.) within content "Pages" as a part of a lesson. Currently, when you use the new doc-viewer in the same way, (especially in ppt) it converts and resizes fonts and causes odd spacing issues between words and on the page causing some content to be unreadable. Box rendered a near-flawless replica from a visual design standpoint, so this is rather frustrating. When converting a troublesome .ppt to .pdf for the docviewer it still altered fonts and had trouble rendering some background images/colors of the .pdf.
Is there a fundamental difference in the functionality of this doc viewer that will mean that we should not expect it to be able to render a file visually as expected - rather that it will always attempt to reformat based on size of the app/viewer available?
SpeedGrader just displays the submissions displayed by DocViewer, which is also included in student submission detail pages. What you'd like to achieve would be outside the scope of DocViewer; I'd recommend what Gregory suggested in using a shared Google Doc through a collaboration or setting up a group assignment where groups could create annotations within their own documents.
If you're interested in enhanced functionality I'd encourage you to share your thoughts as a feature enhancement. Feedback details are included within the feedback section above.
We apologize for the inconvenience you're experiencing with fonts and spacing. If you wouldn't mind, please submit a case to our support team so they can verify what you're seeing and see how we can resolve the situation for you.