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Use of Stylus with DOCViewer

Use of Stylus with DOCViewer

This idea has been developed and deployed to Canvas

This idea is applicable to any 2-in-1 / hybrid device with stylus capacity eg Chromebook, Surface Pro 4, Yoga, ASUS etc.

Microsoft's recent education event (May 2017) highlighted the increasing opportunities for schools to invest in low cost 2-in-1 hybrids running Windows 10. Since then at least 5 new devices have been released - 5 Budget Windows Hybrids 2-in-1 Tablets and Laptops for Schools – Colour My Learning . Many schools, including our own, are now looking at these as viable alternatives to 1-1 iPads.

The potential of inking is huge, not just in the hands of students but for teachers and marking.

Canvas has just released DOCViewer in Beta. As yet it is not possible to annotate work inline using the stylus (at least on my Surface Pro).

We would love to see inking/hand-written/stylus based annotations being available for those using Canvas via the browser.

This idea has been added to our product plan for Q1 2019 and will influence development within Canvas. Follow this idea to receive updates as they are available.

:smileyinfo: Adding this idea to our product plan means we will be working on it, but it does not guarantee that it will be developed exactly as defined by the idea, or that it will be added to the production environment.

Read more about the feature idea process:

Comments from Instructure

For more information, please read through the .

New Member

This would be really helpful for writing feedback in a foreign language, such as in Hebrew which doesn't type so easily since it's RTL and a different alphabet.

New Member

I used to be able to use my Surface Book and pen with speedgrader and annotate and grade math assignments.  The interface wasn't perfect but it worked.  Now it is impossible.  A huge step backwards!

Community Champion

I did ask when this might be brought back into the new Doc Viewer. Not sure it appeared on any near time scales. Frustrating!

New Member

please contemplate Apple style interface.  Annotating with a stylus is quicker and provides a richer learning experience...aside from being easier!

Community Contributor

Our English department would really like to use their Surface Pro styluses to provide feedback in the margins. They could do it with Crocodoc. Let's get this to happen! 

Community Champion

Tried the stylus with our new Surface Pro on the new DOC Viewer and it is pretty grim. Certainly would not recommend using it for anyone.

Are there any plans at all from Canvas to make this happen especially with the increasing number of hybrid devices..

New Member

I teach composition classes and this would really help. 

New Member

I'm pretty new to Canvas, but I've had a SurfacePro for the past 3 yrs that allows me to annotate pretty much anything with my digital ink and I'm bummed out to learn that I can't annotate/comment on student's work in the SpeedGrader area of Canvas. My district just supplied secondary teachers with incredible touchscreen laptops w/active styluses that allow us to comment on student's work in OneNote, but since we're most likely moving to a 1:1 w/Canvas teachers will expect that same ability there. I noticed that this request and follow-up comments were from this past June. Does anyone from Instructure ever respond to these requests? 

Community Team
Community Team

 @brifox , this idea is still open for community consideration. To learn more about how ideas are retained and moved forward for development, please refer to How does the feature idea process work?‌, What is the feature development process for Canvas?‌, and 

Community Champion

I recently had some instructors ask about this very feature as they are familiar with handwriting comments on a printed document, and they would like to take advantage of the technology but still want to write comments not use comment boxes.

New Member

Update: This has been made much more functional. 

So, I can annotate pdf documents that students upload into Speedgrader, but the functionality is horrible.

Here is a video about how hard it is to annotate files in Speedgrader.


There are two issues:

  1. The ink on the screen is ¼ inch below the tip of the stylus. This does not happen on any other application on my tablet. It’s frustrating to connect letters or numbers or to ink specific items on the screen.
  2. The other issue is the little pop up box for accepting or deleting work. It shows up right where the pen will go for the next letter if writing left to right. The little box needs to be more to the left of the most recent character or in some other place.
  3. I was told by Canvas support that it must be the driver on my tablet causing the problem. If two different brands of tablets with different pens have the same problem, this is a Canvas issue.


The video was done on a 2017 MS Surface (5) with a new Surface pen, but the same problems existed on a different brand of tablet (HP) with a different stylus (Bamboo). I’ve tried every browser (IE, Edge, Chrome, Firefox). Firefox is the worst, with IE being better than the others.


Does anyone else have this problem?

Thank you,


Community Champion

Thanks for highlighting this. 

I wont even attempt to show you how rubbish it is with the SP5 and Surface pen on Chrome. Although I don't have a problem with the syncing of the pen and screen, everytime I try to draw, it tries to drag the screen to the right and left. There is absolutely no control over the stylus and the whole this is a mess. In fact the more I write about it, the more annoyed I get

Just to reiterate, I can only see the case for hybrid devices as the 1-1 device of choice getting stronger in schools and colleges - just look how successful OneNote and OneNote Classnotebook has been. 

We really need a solution that works for Windows and Chromebook devices - I just wish there was some sort of feedback/comment from Instructure about this as I cannot understand why a modern learning platform would not want to develop a solution like it if only to give it the edge over its competitors!

New Member

Today's response from Canvas is that one should use the Canvas Teacher App to use a stylus for marking up student work in Speedgrader. The only catch is that you need an iOS or Android device, and Windows is not supported unless we rig an election to get a lot of votes. I'm not sure why there aren't 1000 votes for this already. Where are the Russian hackers when I need them?

Community Member

This request seems like a given: of course an LMS should work the same on Windows as iOS. Canvas should step up and make this feature more platform agnostic.

Community Champion

Wholeheartedly agree! Am not sure it is particularly a K12 thing either although use of stylus with things like OneNote ClassNotebooks is huge!

New Member

I have the same issue if I try to use my mouse on my desktop to ink notes. The ink seems to follow the bottom right corner of my pointer, rather than the point. This is with a wired Dell mouse. I suppose it could still be a driver issue. I don't know enough about drivers to know how pervasive the issue could be.  

Community Team
Community Team

Just as an update from our product team. The DocViewer engineers are working hard to make improvements to the product. Naturally DocViewer has a list of requests, and our team is prioritizing them appropriately. Our product manager recognizes that Windows tablets are being used more than in prior years, though they are not as prevalent as iOS or Android in market share. This idea has previously come up in internal discussion, though the team needs to complete some higher priorities before they will be able to properly explore Windows support.



New Member

Do you have any figures to back-up this statement? If we are talking about windows 10 and stylus, we are not just talking about tablet, but also all 2-in-1 devices and laptops with touch enabled screen. 

Community Champion

I am not sure I entirely agree with Erin's colleagues assessment of market forces. A brief review of internet sites show a growing rise in Windows OS not too far from iOS (albeit behind Android) eg 

There are also many stories showing the rise of Windows devices as the expense of iOS eg 

I would have thought that any touch screen device with stylus capability should be a focus. The 1-1 iPad model at K12 is not as prevalent outside of US.

New Member

I can't believe these statistics - I work at a large university and we all use Canvas. When I look into the classroom more than 50 percent have some windows driven 2-1 with touch screens. Is this just my college?

VERY frustrated with Canvas that they don't move on this subject - I have MANY colleagues, who feel the same and are just tired to come here and voice their frustration.