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Update ALL links when Page name changes

Update ALL links when Page name changes

Here's a common scenario:


An instructor makes a page, let's say a module overview page, and then links to this page from a custom Home page. While developing the course, the instructor changes the name of the module overview page. This breaks the homepage link because the page URL contains the page name.


Please create a system to avoid this common problem.


The Page ID thing is not great as it doesn't work when you copy a course. Please don't use it until Canvas makes the page ID change to the new ID.

The best practices solution is to plan things out better ahead of time and not link to documents until you have finalized your naming scheme. For people like me who develop on the fly, that doesn't usually fit with my style. I may be in the minority in other ways because I do not automatically want all of my links to be adjusted when I rename a page.

The content pages were originally called wiki pages. In MediaWiki, the software behind Wikopedia, there is the ability to add a redirect to a page so that if you renamed it, it could send people to the new location. If you didn't want it to automatically forward, you didn't have to. That was one feature of the wiki that was missed when Canvas developed their version.

Learner II

Ah the MediaWiki history explains why this behaviour exists! Can't wait for the ids to be official, it can't come sooner!

Yeah definitely not trying to get others to use the current method but the amount of users I'm having to help with the broken links at the moment is rough. Anyone know anything about when we could see PageIDs implemented properly? I know this idea has been open for almost half a decade now with no action, is there another idea page for implementing ID urls?


I think you misunderstood what I wrote, or at least what I intended to say.

Page IDs exist because everything in Canvas has an ID. This has nothing to do with wikis.

Almost everything except for content pages is referred to by the ID. However, people like pretty URLs and don't want to refer to page 124529, they would rather see it say how-to-embed-an-image. 

My reference to MediaWiki was that Canvas started off with the name "wiki" for their content pages, but they didn't follow the example of the (arguably?) most popular wiki. They listened to faculty and decided what faculty were asking for. They have the ability for faculty or students to edit. There's a revision history so you can return it to where it was. But the faculty probably didn't mention the ability to redirect pages ... it's not a main feature inside a course. Much of what Canvas did write initially was about content creation, not about changing it once it was written.

That really messed me up my first semester using Canvas (Fall 2012). Since then, I try to come up with a consistent naming scheme that I stick to and the problem is minimal for me. If I do change a name, I can use the link validation feature to find the places that need changed. That link validator wasn't always there.

The request to use a page ID instead of a friendly-url is a hack. Most people don't want numbered pages; the reason people are asking about the page ID is because they can't get what they really want, which is the ability to rename all of the links when you change a page name. 

Your "Can't wait" statement is likely to be a very long time. I have no knowledge or expectation that Canvas will start changing IDs when courses are copied, although that could be a feature request in and of itself. Canvas supports the URL for content pages and so they see no need to support linking by page IDs and changing the page when that happens.

Much of what Canvas works from is the documented behaviors. If A happens, then B will happen. It doesn't document any behavior when A doesn't happen. Likewise, C might cause B, but if it isn't documented, then Canvas doesn't feel compelled to keep that behavior if something else comes along.

Using Page IDs is one of those things that "works but is unsupported" and that means that it could change at anytime and Canvas won't apologize for breaking it because you were using an undocumented feature. Many people in the Community who implemented added functionality have been hit by the "undocumented and unsupported" being deprecated.

Learner II

This would save me hours of work, literally.

Please do this one!!!  

Pages having unique IDs is a MUST. Friendly-URLs is a bonus.

That said, it is possible to find a balance between IDs and friendly-URLs where the friendly part of the URL is added on but not link-breaking.  At this point, links breaking from title changes is more of a bug than a feature. I'm hoping the new rich content editor will bring opportunity to finally implement this highly requested function.

Thanks everyone for your page ID advice. I will pass the information on. 

Surveyor II

It's unacceptable that system-generated links change when you rename a page. It's therefore a bug. Fixing this should be "bug fix priority" not "feature request" priority.

Community Member

Lol, don’t hold your breath! I have been arguing this for about two years – At first they said it was on purpose for accessibility reasons – that VI users liked the name of the page in the URL! But having worked with VI users for 15 years this is complete nonsense – and none of the other objects in Canvas follow this protocol. I have challenged them to come up with just one scenario in which someone would want internal links to content pages to break when they changed the name tumbleweed. Even if there was some bizarre reason for doing this giving us a choice when changing a name would be nice – e.g. a dialogue box pops up and says would you like to retain internal links to this page?


I think that with how many are moving online right now with covid-19 who have very little experience with online instruction, this is a critical aspect that needs to be fixed. What needs to happen is that when a page is created, the web address name is a number or something arbitrary to the name of the page. This address would be constant and the name for the page should be in no way connected to the web address. Probably a lot more in depth than that, but upfront it seems possible.

Surveyor II

This situation continues to haunt me and my faculty. Honestly, it's driving me a bit insane. With so many additional users in Canvas right now (during distance learning due to pandemic), a user experience feature like this is needed. PLEASE. Sorry for shouting.