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Community Team
Community Team

Hack Night; What do you want to work on?

Hack Night is an event where programmers, engineers, LMS admins, instructional designers, teachers and anyone else interested in hacking Canvas and Canvas courses come together to hack the APIs, course design, apps, bugs and anything else they want to work on together.  Some conversations and questions are more technical in nature than others but everyone is welcome.  This year Hack Night will happen in the same place and time as last year - Shivano/Red Cloud on Wednesday, starting at 8 PM.  The format is that anyone can suggest a topic for any conversation/table. 

Last year we had table top mini posters with suggested topics designed to be people started.  They were:

course templates

writing good course objectives

writing good rubrics (alignment)

RCE; Beyond the Basics

Fun and effective embeddable tools

Tips for large classes

Teaching in the lab w/ Canvas

What is in your onboarding course?

CSS customization to add personal style to Canvas

JavaScript tricks super charge your course

API's to speed up your daily tasks

What can I do with CSS & JavaScipt?

How could I make Canvas do X?

It seems like many people are interested in learning more about what can be accomplished with APIs.  Other people come with specific javascript questions or 'In language X, how do I get Canvas to do Y'  Another idea would be to have a Getting Started with programming station.  Canvas engineers have historically just filtered out to various round tables.  One suggestion this year was to have some of them sit at square tables that people who have technical questions can queue up in front of.

 What do you think about all of this? Do do you want to work on this year?

54 Replies

I think you are correct about trying to set up for both categories of people.  There is also the distinction that some people are content to network with each other and others come wanting to ask one specific question of an Instructure engineer.


I'm planning on eavesdropping and learning... I don't know what I don't know! 🙂


laurakgibbs, I am definitely no coder or developer, but the eavesdropping-and-learning activities at Hack Night might just have been my absolute favorite thing! (Except for all my other favorite things at InstructureCon.)

Community Advocate
Community Advocate

Excited to see everyone at hack night!

I'm hoping to discuss:

  1. Canvas Data topics like, technical/hosting difficulties and solutions, data analysis, charting for Tableau and Web
  2. Using Canvas Data CLI and a wrapper to download and load all OR specific tables data to MSSQL
  3. Is anyone using Hadoop for CD?
  4. Code portability for sharing between Canvas Instances, resolving this Long ID's in Javascript 
  5. Live Events
    1. Who's using it? How can we use this?
    2. I plan to bring some starter kit code to share for Live Events > AWS/SQS > Long Polling > MSSQL
         Brush up on or bring Ruby code to get data into your favorite DB Engine.
    3. Why I'm using it to capture daily transactions and make Canvas Data feel Live!
  6. AWS/Stack solutions for high availability/on demand Canvas UI hacks (these are not LTI's)

I'm willing to discuss/share/workon:

  1. Anything on JavaScript/API and hacking or customizing features in the Canvas UI
  2. Ruby scripting and pulling reports from Canvas and to extend Canvas Data
  3. Mixing Canvas Data and the API for faster workflows, because queries are faster than paginated responses.
  4. Using Canvas Data to create a Reporting and Analytics LTI for Teachers and Schools
  5. Canvas Data Queries
  6. Fun things and tools:
    1. Geographically locating users
    2. Node branding utility for Sub Account JS/CSS generation
  7. React & InstructureUI LTI Boilerplate for a native feel
  8. What are you working on?

GitHub - robert-carroll/ccsd-canvas: Canvas LMS - Code for Customizations, Tools, Data, Analytics, a... 


carroll-ccsd‌, I might want to meet up and see if you can help with a couple of JS issues I am hoping to solve. 

Highlighted‌, we can do that!

I'm not sure how everyone handles meet ups. Maybe I'll change my community preferences to notify me for Direct Messages... also Robert Carroll (@rbtcar) | Twitter 

edit and edit again

I can't seem to get the following to work because we have to login through Canvas first, and the Jive app doesn't seem to make that possible?

Mobile NotificationsYou can enable mobile push notifications after logging into the Jive Mobile app. Get the app now for IOS or Android.



Despite that thousands of people who are there, you'll be amazed how easy it is to run into people that you know from the community without a great deal of planning and without a smart phone to coordinate things.

  • You end up going to the same sessions as other people who are interested in the same thing. You sit next to someone and start up a conversation. That expands to what they've heard and who they've talked about.
  • Having a realistic photo in the Community helps because then people recognize you. Being active in the Community helps immensely too because then people have seen your name and want to meet you. One note, it seemed that most people are shorter than their picture makes them out to be.
  • Giving a presentation at the conference helps people find you. They come up before or afterwards to ask questions. Then they write you months later in the Community saying they saw the presentation and had a question.
  • They have name badges and if you walk around paying attention to your surroundings and not having your nose stuck in your device, you see names you recognize. I ran into Glen Parker and asked about the missing data problem we had been discussing in the Community..
  • You run into people by accident. Last year, late at night, we were walking to the conference center, I heard someone say "Joni" and we met without any plan to do so - we just happened to be in the same space at the same time (although headed in different directions).
  • Go to Hack Night where you will be able to meet other people who have similar thoughts.
  • Another good thing to do is show up at the meetings before the conference begins. Last year we held the Canvas Intelligence Exchange on Tuesday morning and met a bunch of people. That photo at the top, from left to right, is of ,, and . The guy in the white shirt with the hat is Adam Williams and I'm behind him in the blue shirt. Susan "permissions" Hicks is in the background between Marc and Kona. That photo was either before or after the session, and it was much busier while it was going on.
  • Visit the InstructureCon 2018 place in the Community. If you want to see discussions related to InstructureCon, click on Content. There is a thread Any Community Gatherings on Tuesday Morning where that has actionable material. The sooner you can meet people, the more time you have for that networking to benefit you. If you wait until the unconference on Friday to start meeting people, you've missed a lot of opportunities. If you need more reason to attend, Kona has written Why should YOU attend the InstructureCon 2018 Unconference? Canvas has asked that people register for the unconference so they can do some logistical planning, but I imagine people who get lit on fire during the conference can still come, even if they haven't preregistered.
  • For me personally, walking near‌ works well because she's recognizable, but she might find it a little creepy if everyone starts following her around.
Community Advocate
Community Advocate,

That is some great advice!

This will actually be my 4th InstructureCon. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to attend last year and attending this year was a challenge. I would have liked to submit a presentation had I known I would get to attend. I recently presented with SHEBENE at our own Nevada Innovations Summit and have since been working with some great people here in Nevada. I also remember how open people were to share their thoughts, progress and difficulties at #InstCon, and how I got my introduction to Python from Hack Night. I can't wait for more! I shouldn't have a problem buried in my phone, I rarely use it in general, and prefer to work on...Archer - Total Situational Awareness...and lately, have to remember to keep it in my pocket when I get home instead of leaving it by my wallet and keys, just so I can log more #stepsforbeth. A live game of Where's Waldo sounds like fun!

I think for me this year is mostly about an effort to give back. I recently discovered that the Bash code I was using to push CSV files into Canvas didn't come from Instructure (provided by our CSM at the time), but came from the community. It was when I replied to Custom JavaScript/CSS Changes, that I found the repo for the React Tray Link (GitHub - kajigga/canvas-contrib) was the same repository for the Bash code I have been using for 4 years. So I felt I should give some back by solving this Global Nav Menu - Custom Tray, and contributing something new with Admin Tray - Sub Account Menu.

We have also been using several of your Canvancements, for awhile in our UI hacks. Your repo for canvancement/canvas-data got me up and running so fast with Canvas Data I spent way more time working on how to use it than getting into it, and discussion on the Requests Table was extremely helpful.

I would also like to level up the community collaboration and information sharing. Our department developed a Canvas LTI to feed some Canvas Data analytics back to teachers and schools. My former coworker, assessed that using React - A JavaScript library for building user interfaces was a good solution as Canvas uses it and Canvas Data crunching can be slow. React really helps when using Canvas Data as base for transactional web applications. We would have loved to know about instructure-ui : UI libraries made by Instructure Inc. (5.19.0), but had no idea until the post Do you use InstUI? We want to hear from you!. Now, I try to peruse the Instructure, Inc. · GitHub repo more often for these treasures.

Some of the difficulties of developing these solutions on top of Canvas and it's awesome open architecture is that we are subject to the very volatile release cycle. For instance, we had just deployed some charts (via LTI) that showed grade distributions across various points in the Fall, and shortly after Canvas released deprecation warnings on two tables we used, and would soon replace them with several more, which I'm totally a fan of. More organized data anytime! However, this increases technical debt, because now we have to go back. I would like to know if anyone else has these pain points, and would they like to collaborate on ways to prevent duplication of effort and keep us developing new tools more often than redesigning them. Maybe this group is already out there, I'd like to sign up. I'm also happy to help contribute to any other projects out there.

Excited to meet up with‌ tonight for dinner and a chat while he spends a few days here discovering Las Vegas summers! :smileydevil:

I'll get back to you on the realistic photo and update my avatar soon, my wife and I are terrible at taking pictures! :smileyconfused:

Community Coach
Community Coach

Nice advice! 

Something else I’d add is that in general everyone is super friendly at the conference, so definitely chat people up! I’ve had great conversations with random strangers I was sitting next to at a meal, conference session, or even waiting in line next to! This includes attendees and Instructure employees, who are just as friendly!


I think it’s pretty easy to run into folks. I started following you on Twitter. I can be found as @mjennings_uab. I’ll DM you if I can’t find you.