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palmarinich
Learner II

Inconsistent nomenclature for course ID fields?

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(I recently posted this in the Canvas Admins group, but it was suggested this group might be of help, too.)

I'm a brand new Canvas admin, and am working with our IT department to develop proper SIS feed files.  I've come across what seems like a substantial discrepancy in the names of some fields related to courses, and would like to get some feedback on whether it's just me, or if this might warrant a product suggestion.

Specifically, there are some required fields when creating a course, but they are labeled differently in three places (except "SIS ID," which is the same in two places).  The three areas I'm looking at are:  SIS feed file, Add A New Course (UI), and Course Details (UI).

In an SIS feed file, the fields are:

course_ID

short_name

long_name

In the Add a New Course UI, the same fields are:

SIS ID

Reference Code

Course Name

When viewing the Course Details for an existing course, the same fields are:

SIS ID

Course Code

Name

It took a bit of trial and error to figure out which fields matched what, and it's still a little tricky to keep it straight.  So, is it just me, or is this a little confusing for others?  Thanks for any feedback.

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palmarinich
Learner II

I've opened a new Idea to request that these fields be given consistent names in the various locations.  Feel free to comment, or add suggestions for clarification, etc.

Thanks!

/ chris p.

View solution in original post

6 Replies
MattHanes
Navigator

You are totally right. This is incredibly confusing and makes collaboration on our scripts more difficult that it has to be. People who work in the User Interface all day will call it one thing and the programmers call it something else. And the Live API and API documentation aren't always clear about it either. Don't get me started on User IDs. There are 3 of those as well.

cronek
Learner

I have all those same concerns as well.  It also looks like there is a weird way Canvas then displays these fields to users.  In some places the Course Code is used and in others it's the Course Name.  It almost seems like the "Long" name and "Short" name are reversed to what the users might expect to see in the UI.  On the dashboard and courses list, Name (long) is used.  Title inside the course uses Code (short).  Those seem reversed.  I think you would want the short name in lists to conserve space and improve sorting, but then use long name inside the course where you have the room to give the user the full course title.

Another weird thing is that there seems to be an initial value stored for these fields that never gets overwritten if you change them later on.  I followed these steps to test:

  1. Manually create course as admin.  ReferenceCode="MyCode", CourseName="MyCourse",SISID=[you can't set that here, no option]
  2. Enter course settings as admin to set the SISID because I do want to reference it later in an SIS feed.  SISID="MySISID"
  3. Place teacher in the course and impersonate the teacher.  See "MyCourse" as the name in lists.  See "MyCode" as title within the course.  This seems reversed.
  4. Enter course settings as admin and update all the fields, adding a "2". ReferenceCode="MyCode2", CourseName="MyCourse2",SISID="MySISID2"
  5. Impersonate teacher and see the original "MyCode" and "MyCourse" in a few places.  The strangest place is by selecting Courses|AllCourses you see a list containing "MyCourse2, MyCourse", BOTH new and old CourseName on the SAME line.

Now I'm not sure at all what to put in the fields for my SIS import.  I guess just flip the short_name and long_name, and then never change them.  Might be the best I can do.

cms_hickss
Learner II

An Idea Request for this should definitely be opened.  @palmarinich ​, since this was your question do you want to open it?

 @cronek ​ Canvas honors changes made in the UI to allow the user to do some customization.  Other than renaming a course, it also allows students to enter a nickname without having the SIS Import overwrite it.

The only thing the SIS counts on is the unique SIS ID, the user can change the name or short name to whatever they want and the course can still be found in the SIS by using the SIS ID.  Users are allowed some flexibility, and integrity of the integration is maintained.

You might take a look at the "override_sis_stickiness" parameter.  This will allow you to overwrite changes made in the user interface.

Take a look at the parameter definition here:  SIS Imports - Import SIS Data

I have been able to override UI changes using this flag, but only use it for very specific scenarios.

palmarinich
Learner II

I've opened a new Idea to request that these fields be given consistent names in the various locations.  Feel free to comment, or add suggestions for clarification, etc.

Thanks!

/ chris p.

View solution in original post

Beyond the convenience of this idea, there is a downside:

How many integrations to Canvas are out there now that depend on the current field names?

What is the effect on those integrations should the field names be changed?

How many existing integrations would require overhaul and regression testing?

Food for thought, I'm only offering another perspective : )