Restoring the Needs Graded count

21 14 1,631

With the February 20, 2016, Release, Canvas replaced the number of assignments needing graded with a 9+ indicator when there were more than 9 that needed grading. No one thought much of it before it happened, probably because their examples all used single digit counts.

Here's what my To Do list looked like on the morning of Saturday, February 20, 2016.


Once the February 20 update was released, people started complaining, explaining how they used the count in their workflow, and asking for the real count back. After several days, Canvas came back with it as an attempt to simplify the interface and that we should file a support ticket so that they could track the number of affected users, not just those in the Community (even though my original plea to restore the actual count had 20 helps and 22 likes as I write this). So, please read the discussion in the Release Notes and then go file a support ticket if this change bothers you.

Since Canvas really botched this and it's important for me in my teaching load, I wrote a user script that will restore the functionality that previously existed. It's a shame that I have to make extra API calls, one for each assignment that needs grading, but it is a work-around until they restore this much needed functionality. I truly hope this is one script that I wrote which quickly becomes obsolete.

Here's what my To Do list looks like after installing my script.


It's pretty quick, unless you happen to have hundreds of assignments. As a user script, it is up to the individual to decide whether or not to use it. The browser add-on and the user script need loaded on each machine/browser that you want to use it with, but it won't mess up the general experience for everyone.

It has been tested on Firefox, Chrome, and Safari. It has been tested with the old UI and the new UI. It changes the Needs Grading counts on the Canvas Activity Stream (initial page when you log in) or any Course homepage (all of the four styles). It even works when you get that little message to load more assignments.

Be sure to follow this issue and the Canvas Release Notes. If/when Canvas restores this functionality, please disable this script or uninstall the browser add-on.


  1. Make sure Greasemonkey for Firefox or Tampermonkey for Chrome or Safari is installed and enabled
  2. Install the needs-grading.user.js file

This script will automatically run on any Canvas instance hosted at * If you have a custom domain, then you will need to modify the \\ @include line to refer to your site.

This script is a Canvancement and designed to improve the user's experience with Canvas. It is up to the user to decide whether or not to use it. The source code is available on the Canvancement website​.

Community Coach
Community Coach

Thank you James!

Learner II

Thanks you for this. It works great!

Community Member

Interesting that this banner, from the Canvas Release Notes from February 20, 2016 has disappeared:

(glad I took a screenshot)

sidebar enhancements.png

Community Coach
Community Coach

My thought is this James, and it won't win me any buttered-bread points, but you wrote a script to correct this almost instantly. So why can't the Canvas engineers do the same? The blue indicator for numbers of unread inbox messages can display triple-digit numbers, so why can't the submission indicator?

Why is it that we too often get the same non-answers from the engineers - "this is the way it is, submit a ticket".  Does anyone else remember word-wrap in modules? Sounds too much like a parent telling their child "because I said so!", and none of us in here are children; although I may whine like one way too oftenSmiley Wink In fact, what it most reminds me of is dealing with any company's IT department where the assumption is that we would not understand. Some of us might surprise them and actually understand, and many more of us might just appreciate a reasonable response, even if we did not fully grasp the science behind it.

My $0.02!

Now off my soap box, and back to work.


Community Member

If you can get Canvas to incorporate this, I think they should pay you a commission as part of "Professional Services"  Smiley Happy


I only give free advice, that way the refunds don't bankrupt me.

Lines 98-104 in the app/presenters/to_do_list_presenter.rb source file are the offending lines. If you took out the if - then - else structure, it would be fixed. When you look at the change history, it was a purposeful change involving a refactoring of files and it does, as I suspected, talk about badges. There is also a note that says "Fixes CNVS-25877", but I don't know what that is.


Canvas engineers have to go through quality control to get changes approved. The change was written back on December 28, committed on January 19, and released on February 20. Reversing the process will have to make sure that something else doesn't break. On the other hand, I don't have anyone to review my code and might have inadvertently broken something. I think the change is innocuous, but I don't know for sure. That's why it's up to each user to decide whether or not to break the code.

Community Coach
Community Coach


Thank you for validating my point - that was a reasonable answer, and one that I can understand, and one that makes this less of an immediate issue in my mind.

I was never a big fan of "because I told you so", as my Mom would attest if she were still with us. This is a very basic customer service concept. Does it satisfy everybody, oh heck no! But it does work for the majority.

Explorer III

Receiving our first complaints. Betting this to increase as we are in Week 8, faculty stress levels are high and they are scrambling to finish up grading.  If they were relying on accurate counts to help them manage their work in the next two weeks, we will be the targets of their displeasure.  With 30 students as our normal class size, 9+ is worthless. Please fix this!!

Navigator​​, be sure to fill out a support ticket and ask them to do the same if you haven't already. Canvas wants to make sure it's not just Community members who had a problem the 9+.

I think what I wrote could be incorporated into the global JavaScript file without too much difficulty so that people didn't have to install the user script themselves, but that's a double edged sword. It fixes the immediate issue, but may break something else down the line and is dependent upon Canvas not changing CSS classes that I used to identify the To Do list. It also helps our faculty, which is awesome, but then they won't complain which means that it won't be fixed for everyone, which is the opposite of awesome.

Explorer III

Thanks James! We just filed the first tix and will continue for each one as they come in.  Thanks for the information!!



Here's a useful tip.

The Canvas Release Notes are "documents". That means, among other things, they are versioned. You can click on the little version button near the top and go back to a previous version. You can even compare two versions to get see the difference between them. That's useful when you don't have time to read the entire document over, you just want to know what has changed.

I use this when I'm trying to help people and I want to say when a particular change happened. I can go back to a document and look through the versions to see exactly when a change happened. One instance I specifically remember was determining when the explanation of how voting in the community worked, I was able to go back and get the date. That made me feel better, because I knew I had read something else than what it currently said, and sure-enough, I had read it before it changed.

In this case, the note about the Sidebar Enhancements came along in version 5 at 6:26 pm (UTC) on Feb 22 and disappeared in version 8 at 12:08 am (UTC) on Feb 24.

That note said they were working with the product manager ... so once Erin talked to the product manager and came back with what had been decided, it was no longer accurate, so it made sense for her to remove it. It might still be a known issue or it might be working exactly as designed and they're just gathering feedback to see if it was a bad design.

Since a feature request doesn't even open up until March 2 and can take a while before they respond and then move it on to considering, I am encouraged that they didn't make us go that route. Even though I don't think it would take long for this one to rise to the top of the feature requests, it's still nice to know we don't have to go through that method. In the past, things in beta that caused this big of an uproar might have been pulled back from release, but somehow we all missed it - probably because it was one of those things that is so accepted that no one gives it a second thought until it doesn't work anymore. I agree that the way this one is being handled is weird and inconsistent with the way things have been done in the past, but I am still holding out hope that the weirdness means a change is coming sooner rather than later, rather than an effort to just silence us.


I think I get to be the bearer of good news!  Check out the release notes for this coming Saturday

"For instructors, the To Do list indicates the number of submissions that require grading. The indicator supports up to three digits and matches the primary color of the account's theme as set in the theme editor."


Deactivated user​ is right. I've known the fix is coming since the beta release notes were put out, but it's now official!

As of March 12, you should not need my temporary fix anymore and can uninstall it. You may want to temporarily disable Greasemonkey/Tampermonkey and verify that it works first, but the beta instance is correctly displaying the Needs Graded count, so this step probably isn't necessary.

In Firefox/Greasemonkey,

  1. click on the Greasemonkey pulldown
  2. Choose Manage User Scripts
  3. Find the Needs Grading Count script and choose Remove

In Chrome/Tampermonkey

  1. Click on the Tampermonkey icon
  2. Choose Dashboard
  3. Find the Needs Grading Count script and click the trashcan on the far right under Actions

If this is the only User Script you have enabled, you can also remove the Greasemonkey/Tampermonkey add-on completely.

If you leave it installed, it shouldn't break anything. It looks for 9+ in the text and doesn't do anything if it can't find it. I suppose that it will match if Canvas displays a 999+, but I don't have anything that large to test it with. This really was just intended to be a temporary fix until Canvas made it permanent.

I will leave the code out there in case anyone needs it for inspiration to do something in the future, but the immediate problem has been solved.

About the Author
I'm James Jones. The new Community software Khoros doesn't seem to like people using real names, but I think that names are important part of building community. I'm here trying to make Canvas a better experience for people. I hate repetitive tasks and will spend 13 hours writing a computer program to automate something that takes 5 minutes to do. The last two statements often benefit others in the form of Canvancements, which are my Canvas Enhancments that I contribute to the Canvas Community.