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Tables in Canvas

Tables in Canvas

(2)
Both creating and copy/pasting tables in Canvas (the rich text editor boxes) seems problematic and difficult.  The table structure is lost and only text copies into Canvas from MS Word and Excel when using the Firefox browser. When using chrome, one can see that the table copied into the rich text editor, however, when saved, the table properties, such as borders are not visible. When creating tables from scratch, the formatting options are difficult to understand and limited in scope. For instance, I cannot figure out how to insert shading into the top row of cells only.  When I tried to shade them, the entire table became shaded. While there are limited examples of formatting in the instructors' manual, they do not fully explain the process.  For instance, yes, you can insert "5" for borders, but what will that look like in my table - is that very thick or very thin? (Rhetorical question)  To format a table I just created, I went into the HTML code of a Blackboard table and copied it.  That is not the way I want to go about this.  Lastly, while I have some HTML knowledge, most of our instructors and students do not, so wouldn't have a clue where to begin with this.  I hope to see this feature become more intuitive and user friendly.

 

Any suggestions from power users out there for workarounds? I see that this has been a topic in the past, but evidently without changes to the software?  I'm curious if it's not a big deal for others?  I typically use tables quite a bit in my courses.

 

Regards,

Julia Phillips

74 Comments
kmeeusen
Community Coach
Community Coach

Julia:  I will support this feature request.

I have seen very few examples where the tables UI in systems based on HTML are very good, but Canvas' are the worst. Now that I've learned how, I build all my tables in Canvas using the HTML Editor, but recognize that this is both a royal pain in the posterior and just not an option for many folks.

klm

japhill
Community Member

Thanks for your support on this Kelley! Yes, it's not reasonable to expect that people use HTML to create tables.

jordan
Community Champion

 @japhill ​ and  @kmeeusen ​,

I feel your pain here. As far as I know, we use TinyMCE | The Most Advanced WYSIWYG HTML Editor​ in Canvas. But I think we may be on an older version. I believe that we've also made some customizations, which may make it difficult to update our RCE to the latest version of TinyMCE.

In the meantime I will update your feature idea to go up for voting on February 3rd! Smiley Wink

Thanks for your contribution to the community and Canvas!

kmeeusen
Community Coach
Community Coach

Hey, thanks Jordan!

Some of us know it's a TinyMCE issue, but that change would be very desirable. Some of us also know how hard some of these "easy" changes can really be, so we will wait patientlySmiley Wink

klm

Renee_Carney
Community Team
Community Team

This idea has moved to the next stage and will be open for voting among the Canvas Community, from Wed. February 3, 2016 - Wed. May 4, 2016.

Check out this doc for additional details about how the voting process works!

stephanie_johns
Community Participant

Julia,

I also thank you for this request, and hope you get enough votes. I couldn't figure out why Microsoft Word tables, even simple ones, lost their borders when I copied and pasted them from the source Word document. So, now I also use the Canvas editor to create tables. Or, select the table and reformat it (sort of).

I have also noticed that some of the formatting does not work, mainly, the cell spacing and cell padding. No matter what numbers I enter, the table always looks the same. Is there some trick or code here that might help me?

Anyway, I glad to know this is a "known issue."

stephanie_johns
Community Participant

Yep, me too.

japhill
Community Member

Thanks Stephanie!

I bumped into 2 of our students yesterday and they brought this up without prompting.  They said they could not figure out how to put a table into their discussion post with visible borders and they were quite frustrated.  These are graduate students studying public health informatics (hence some techy background...). :smileyshocked:  Since we are in the pilot phase of Canvas I asked them to submit their feedback to our LMS decision makers. Smiley Wink

~Julia

blee
Community Participant

This is great.  The ability to accurately cut and paste tables would be extremely helpful for all involved.  Some WYSWYG editors do this well.  Canvas, however, does not.

yarnelll
Community Participant

I've been using computer software(s) forever and cannot even use the "cell properties" feature to change the size of a column or row. I can't seem to drag those lines that delineate the rows / cells either, as the guide implies we can do. I voted for this particular change for tables, but am just adding my difficulty here in case someone has an answer for me. I can't find it in any form.

bgibson
Community Champion

I may be missing what you are having a problem with.  Or maybe since the discussion above, there have been updates to Canvas regarding this.  I was able to paste the following table into a Canvas page and it kept the shading/coloring options.  I did generate it outside of Canvas at a free online site, and then start to enter data into the fields within Canvas. 

HTML Table generator - TablesGenerator.com

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japhill
Community Member

Bill:  The table that I tried to copy/paste into Canvas was generated in MS Word as stated in the original post.  I also have a problem with the table generator within Canvas.  I don't feel that faculty, or even instructional designers (like me) should have to know code to make tables. 

chris_slupianek
Community Participant

Hello all,

I found out yesterday that if you are adding a table into a quiz question once the quiz is saved the table HTML is gone and what you have left is straight text.  Has anyone else ran into this issue?  I did escalate it and they replicated the issue.  I have heard fro Canvas Support on 3/14, they let me know that it has since been escalated on there side and recognized it as a bug.  When it gets fixed I will update this post.  However I thought everyone would like to know another issue with tables in Canvas.

chofer
Community Coach
Community Coach

tables.jpgHi  @japhill ​...

I tried creating a simple table in MS Word (four rows, three columns), and I was able to copy/paste it into the RCE of a Canvas page.  (See the image to the right.)  Even though my table did have borders in my MS Word document, it did not show the visible borders in Firefox 44 (just the outline of where the borders were).  So, to correct that, highlight all cells in the table of the RCE, click on the table dropdown button, and select "Table Properties".  In the "General" tab, fill in a number in the "Border" cell (for example: 2).  The larger the number, the greater the thickness of the border.  This would make the border visible for everyone.

The other example you see in this image addresses your question about coloring the background of specific cells in a manually created table in your Canvas page.  Once you manually create a table, highlight the cells that you want to add a background color for (for example, highlight the top row).  Then, click on the table dropdown button.  Select "Cell" >> "Cell properties".  Click the "Advanced" tab in the window that appears.  In the "Background Color" box, you'll need to enter a six-character hex code for the color that you want...including the # sign.  So, for example, the green I selected was #55cc99.  You can get other hex codes from sites like: Html Color Codes or HTML Color Picker

Hope this helps!

stephanie_johns
Community Participant

Hi Chris and Julia...

And another issue or layer to consider in table creation is accessibility. See Are tables accessible in Canvas?

If you use color, and if only for fun, you might want to check out the Accessibility Color Wheel​.

japhill
Community Member

Hi Chris,

Thanks for your tips.  Can I ask what your role is at your institution? If you are faculty, what subject do you teach?  Just trying to gauge if many faculty will be up for this.... 🙂

Julia

chofer
Community Coach
Community Coach

Hi  @japhill ...  I'm a Web Specialist in our Instructional Technology department at the Technical College where I work.  If you hover over my name, you can see a brief summary of my profile.  I am an admin for our Canvas instance, and I do not teach courses.

japhill
Community Member

Aha, thank you. So now I know how to do tables in Canvas! Thanks for all the input on this.  However, I maintain 2 of my points:

  1. that this is more "techy" than many of our faculty and students (at my institution) are used to and I feel it should be more user friendly to them.
  2. that the "manual" did not explain this at all.

Julia

d_ellis
Community Contributor

If a user creates a table directly in the rich text editor, and then tries to edit cell padding under "table properties," it won't display any padding in modern browsers.

I suspect that the TinyMCE table editor still uses deprecated table elements (per this open issue). TinyMCE adds cellpadding=X to the table properties rather than style="padding:10px;" to the table cells. Cellpadding in tables is deprecated in HTML5.

A user could get around this by selecting every cell and adding the CSS directly to the cell properties, but it's not an easy fix for most staff.

chofer
Community Coach
Community Coach

Understood.  However, there is a Canvas Guide for the RCE that specifically covers table creation...which you can find here: How do I insert a table using the Rich Content Editor?  I would argue that using the table creation tool as described here is much easier than digging into the HTML code.  The Guide I've provided does a pretty good job of describing what those fields mean and the kinds of values you can input into them.  Hope this helps!

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