COVID-19 Updates to Canvas Releases and Deploys

Community Team
Community Team
7 23 4,995

July 2020

 

The Ready Release Features page has been discontinued. All content has been redirected to the main Canvas Release Notes page. 

 


 

June 2020

 

Ready Releases have fulfilled their purpose and have been discontinued. All opt-in features included in these releases will be enforced for all institutions as part of the 2020-07-18 Canvas release. For a summary of all features, please see July 2020 Canvas Feature Enforcements

 


 

2020-04-28

 

Since Saturday, 21 March, Canvas teams have been aligning release and deploy processes on a weekly basis. The full list of Ready Releases to date can be viewed in the Ready Release Features page, with Deploys listed in the Recent Deploys page

 

Ready Releases

Our teams have several projects still in progress related to our COVID-19 response. These features may continue to be released weekly when available through May 2020. If no features are ready to be released on a given weekend, no Ready Release will take place. Both the Ready Release Features page and the Canvas Release Feature Archive will indicate if no Ready Release is available for a given week.

 

Deploys

Canvas engineers have been branching new code weekly for a deploy, but like Ready Releases, a deploy may be postponed. Both the Recent Deploys page and the Canvas Deploy Archive will indicate if no deploy is scheduled for the current week.

 

Scheduled deploys will continue to take place on Saturdays until otherwise determined by our teams, at which time deploys will return to their regular weekday schedule.

 

As per our regular deploy processes, some code may be deployed to the production environment at any time as deemed necessary by Canvas support and Canvas engineers.

 


 

March 2020

 

Our commitment to you, our customers, is to provide resources and functionality that best support education and those of you on the front lines. As part of this commitment, we want to release meaningful features faster than our standard process currently allows.

 

Ready Releases

Beginning Saturday, March 21, Canvas teams will be modifying our deploy and release processes and providing updates on a weekly basis. This change is a temporary process until further notice. These changes will help us make responsive changes as you are making your own adjustments.

 

Ready Release Features

Ready release features are designed to provide immediate solutions to institutions. These features are being designed to be implemented as opt-in feature options for Canvas admins whenever possible. The Ready Release page has been linked in the regular Canvas release notes page and will provide announcements about available features.

 

Please note that some Canvas features do not currently support opt-in functionality. Canvas teams will remain strategic for any necessary updates in those features and how they should be released.

 

Deploy Notes

Deploy notes will be published each week (instead of every other week). Deploys will take place each Saturday; this process will temporarily replace the weekday deploys. Bug fixes are always included in deploy notes. Deploy notes will be posted in the existing Deploy Notes page.

 

Process Schedule

The Ready Release process will begin the week of March 23, with the initial release on March 28. As Canvas features are managed by multiple teams worldwide, releases may extend over the entire weekend.

 

The first deploy adjustment will also take place on March 28—the scheduled March 25 deploy will be delayed by three days.

 

The recurring weekly timeline for releases and deploys is as follows based on US Mountain Time:

  • Mondays: Deploy to beta environment
  • Tuesdays: Deploy notes published
  • Wednesdays: Ready Release features notes posted
  • Saturdays: Deploy to production environment; Ready Release features available in production environment

 

For specific dates and times, please see Instructure Time Zone Communications. Dates are also posted in the Canvas Release Calendar Overview

 

Regular Canvas Releases

On the third Saturday of every month, regular releases will continue to take place as well as any Ready Release. Regular releases contain new or updated features to Canvas but are less impactful to the specific needs of institutions currently facing COVID-19. 

 

As our main goal is to minimize disruption to the larger needs of all institutions everywhere during this unprecedented time, we are also offering temporary opt-in functionality. All features introduced as part of a regular release date will be opt-in by Canvas admins until July 2020. On 18 July 2020, all previously introduced features will become default for all institutions, unless otherwise indicated.

 

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We hope these changes will be beneficial to you! Please let us know if you have any additional questions or feedback.

23 Comments
Explorer II

Thanks for the update. We'll be monitoring all releases closely here in Melbourne, Australia. We are keen to know what time of day (inc timezone) deploys and releases are rolled out. Will the test and beta environments also be refreshed weekly now, or remain on the regular release schedule? Just wondering how we are going to test these before they arrive in prod? Sorry so many questions. Are you able to advise? Thanks.

Community Member

This seems like a bad, poorly thought out idea.  The most important thing to our (CU-Boulder) users right now is system stability, which has been lacking as of late.  How will radically altering your release cadence lead to increased stability? 

Surveyor

We echo this concern. Faculty and students are facing a huge amount of uncertainty and introducing this level of complexity at this time seems like a major risk.

Community Member

Im actually curious to see how you guys are planing out these releases, as a student I have had my struggles and lack of efficient functions of the over all application and its configuration, using a public network under a membership program. I truly feel that you will see that there are no security aspects that come in place when the deployment rush of released notices and unreliable sources  steer in the opposite direct when you are using a program backed up by the educational system.

I don''t see how the its beta and scheme  would be a great market approach and how this would sustain its deployment in a global market  internationally and domestically. This is only a concern when your platform has put a burden on students that are using their education and skills that strain the concept of education merely on the justification of a deployment and release due to a agenda on your brand mechanism and profit margin anticipation by current investors both in the private and public sectors. 

In my own opinion this falls short is functionality in a online environment that has clearly caused a big set back and unjustified strain on the students that are struggling to earn a good grade. If the approach of online learning expectation has not been set or a standard has to been adopted what would be the purpose behind your strategic outline of dates and so called releases in a private sector using the public resources to obtain a benefit to only set a price for access once you have figure out how to use your platform, countering public access and forecasting weak security infrastructure  due to undisclosed protocols based on your anticipated releases.

Ill leave it at that...

-Jexika Mendez

Explorer

UC Berkeley shares these concerns: While, if I understand the post correctly, most of the features introduced at this time will be feature flagged--allowing individual institutions the ability to handle their own release management, increased frequency of deploys means that we (by which I mean our sole QA engineer) have to QA our customizations at an even faster pace.

Adventurer

So the bottom line is that if we wish to remain with the monthly review of new features we could also then 'opt-in' with those options presented in the weeks since the last review.  Thanks for affording the opportunity of choice while also creating a conduit to resolve issues important to all those institutions needing more rapid solutions.  Well played.  (But I am at the edge of my seat pondering just what these new features may be... :smileycheck: )

Community Member

As Canvas features are managed by multiple teams worldwide, releases may extend over the entire weekend.

I'm also worried about the possibility of weekend-long maintenance windows. As other folks have stated, we need stability right now. We need existing functionality to continue being functional.

Community Team
Community Team

Hey, Alex,

Releases may be extended, but not deploys. Were you referring to deploys? Those are all managed by our teams based in Salt Lake City and Chicago. We also have teams on call each weekend in case something does happen, but our QA teams have put multiple checkpoints in place to ensure consistency and functionality.

As releases are opt-in only, you shouldn't see much difference that a feature may take an extra day to display as an option in your Canvas production environment.

Hope that helps!

Erin

Community Team
Community Team

Hey, Miles,

We hear you! While the deploy frequency will increase by a week, the number of commits included in each deploy will be much smaller. We anticipate the workload should remain the same, if not less. Our teams are also scrutinizing all changes to avoid shipping code that is not specifically needed at this time.

Erin

Community Member

Hi, Bryan from CU-Boulder again.  Our concern isn't around the particular items you are pushing in these changes or whether or not they are forced on, it's around the risk involved with you pushing changes at all.  Every time you push changes, as far as we're concerned at least, it introduces risk.  You had partial outages/service interruptions on 3/16, 3/17 and 3/18.  Why aren't you throwing all your resources towards making sure the system is rock solid stable?

Explorer II

I agree with bryan.melville@colorado.edu.  Today, and maybe it is my home Internet or our instance, the Canvas user experience was getting a little sluggish at times.

Community Advocate
Community Advocate

So these features will be separate than features listed in the traditional release notes? Can you provide an example of what a rapid release feature might be? 

Community Team
Community Team

Hi, Kirsten!

I just added two page links to the blog where you can find times and dates.

Beta environments will still refresh weekly, and Test environments will still refresh monthly.

Thanks!

Erin

Community Team
Community Team

Hi, Tyler,

Stay tuned as we have a few coming soon. Smiley Happy Our first few focus on simplifying the mobile login experience for users, and also helping instructors learn how to use Canvas faster.

Erin

Explorer II

Something to consider.

One of the programs that most of us use will be pausing its upcoming release cycle (there was one today) and focusing on stability and security instead of new features.

Upcoming Chrome and Chrome OS releases -- https://chromereleases.googleblog.com/2020/03/upcoming-chrome-and-chrome-os-releases.html

Chrome normally has a small update (not a full upgrade) every week or so and they are pausing.

If one of the world's largest and wealthiest companies can, may others should do the same.

Instructure
Instructure

Hello dbrace@lccc.edu‌, I'm new to speaking up on the community forums and I hope to hop in here more often. I am the release manager for most of Canvas and it's related services. You bring up a great question. I would like to begin my answer with how learning has changed for members of my family over just the past 6 days. Forgive me for the wandering answer but I believe this is pretty common for millions of canvas users. 

 

I have a 6th grader and 12th grader in my household. My 6th grader hasn't used an LMS ever and in the last 7 days he and his school have transitioned to remote learning. My senior in high school has been using Canvas for a couple of his classes this year. It was primarily used for homework and other assignments. For him to graduate he is now transitioned to 100% remote learning in all of his classes. When I asked how his first online classroom experience was he said it was rough because his teacher and others weren't familiar with how to use video conferencing as a classroom. 

Those are K12 stories. I know of college level instructors that are now trying to complete their courses for the rest of the year. For some instructors that's not a problem. But if you teach ballet, or a chemistry lab and you want to keep the level of learning high what do you do? 

The biggest reason that we are not freezing all changes at this time is that the usage patterns of our product have changed drastically in a few feature areas. Those new challenges and usage patterns are becoming clear and we are doing our best to respond to new needs, new pain, and new loading patterns. Chrome and ChromeOS, in my opinion, are not seeing new usage patterns. While ChromeOS maybe getting some increased usage as schools and employers deploy chromebooks the increased usage doesn't actually cause a loading problem. 

So a bit of a long answer to why we aren't following Chrome's example but I hope it makes more sense to you and others why we would consider it. 


I would like to close with what is most important. While we recognize there are ways that we can change Canvas to improve the remote classroom experience we know that our #1 priority right now is to keep the system stable and performant at all times and especially at this time. 

Explorer II

Thank you very much for that comment.  It is greatly appreciated.

Community Advocate
Community Advocate

I agree! 

Explorer II

Deactivated user,

I did not say it enough in my original reply.  I do thank you, and each Canvas employee (which I do as I work with Support and my CSM), for all of their hard work during their trying times.  We all are pressed and doing things that we typically do not do, or at least not to this degree in the middle of March.

I just read your response again, the first time was a quick glance, and I do appreciate your real-life example.  I also hope that your child has had a better experience as their teacher(s) have become more familiar with the tools that they have.

I look forward to hearing about the features that Instructure has planned for Canvas.

Thank you again for all of your, and Canvas', hard work,

dbrace@lccc.edu

Surveyor II

Hi erinhallmark‌, sorry if this has been covered already but could you confirm will the weekly ready releases also go into test environment every sat with it's production release? when does it go into beta?

Also will the weekly deploy go into test every saturday along with production?

Community Team
Community Team

Hi, Joseph,

Yes, test follows the production schedule, which is all outlined here: https://community.canvaslms.com/docs/DOC-17774-instructure-time-zone-communications 

Thanks!

Erin

Explorer II

Hi there, any Ready (Weekly) Releases scheduled for 9 May 2020? Or is this another weekly-release-free week?

Kirsten

Community Team
Community Team

Hi, Kirsten,

Sorry for the delay! We updated our page just this morning to indicate we do not have a Ready Release. We will have one next week though, which will follow our regular posting schedule.

Thanks!

Erin