Deploy Notes, Meet the Release Notes—Upcoming Changes to the Canvas Releases Page

Instructure Alumni
Instructure Alumni
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With Canvas teams managing both deploys and releases, our recent release resources survey helped us take a litmus test about what admins and instructors are currently feeling. More importantly, we want to know what resources you’re using and why. A sincere THANK YOU to those of you who took the time to share your thoughts with us. Stay tuned for a few additional posts that explain some immediate changes we’ve made.

We regularly receive comments about how hard it is for everyone to keep up with Canvas changes in multiple locations. As noted in the recent survey: 

We are not full-time tech people -- and couldn’t care less what the difference is between a deploy and a release. 

I am frustrated and tired of fooling with your complex community system where I can't find what I need..  Just give me a list of ALL the system changes for that month in one place, dates it will happen, and links to more information -- that's all I need.

I need release notes as a single space to find things. It’s getting a little harder to follow, now with different sites for deploys, releases, etc. Generally get the product blog highlights from my CSM.

There are many places to go.  i.e. I have to do a lot of clicking and read many various pages to read all the updates. I suppose some people might not have the time for all this.

(If you’re still confused about the differences between deploys and releases… that’s a post for another day.)

Meanwhile, based on customer feedback, we agreed that the new design of the Canvas Releases page could use some additional updating. It’s a step forward toward our ultimate goal of simplification (additional teams in the company are also exploring streamline objectives, which we’ll announce as they are available).

Canvas Product Release Changes

On September 17, the Canvas Product Releases page will be repurposed with the following changes:

  • Deploy notes will still exist, but they’ll be placed in the same location as releases
  • The Releases page will be redesigned to display the last two releases and the last two deploys in chronological order, complete with a bulleted summary of updates
  • Feature Previews are grouped together within the notes to better define default features vs optional features
  • The date of each release or deploy includes a link to the full notes, which contains links to all supported resources (e.g. screencasts, user summaries, idea conversations, known issues)
  • Previous updates can be viewed in the release archive, which will also include information about all archived deploys as well
  • Release updates for feature previews in active development user groups are noted in the sidebar (this change has already been implemented in the page)

Release page mockupRelease page mockup


Another feedback item we’ve heard is subscribing to the notes. With this change, you only need to subscribe to the Canvas Product Releases page. No longer do you need to subscribe to the deploys page, too. 

We’ve also made it easy peasy: click the Subscribe button located directly in the page. (Did you see it in the image above!?) This change is live right now in the Canvas Releases page if you aren’t already subscribed and want to test it out.

Subscribing to the notes means that you’ll be notified when release or deploy notes are created and when they are updated. As comments are not allowed directly in the notes, you won’t receive updates about comments unless you specifically subscribe to a related Q&A feature thread.

If you need a refresher on the various notification and subscription options in the Community, check out Subscriptions and Notifications in the Canvas Community.


Let us know your thoughts about this change, coming September 17!

Community Participant

Could you at the changeover also make it so things that are features (vs default) are more clearly marked? Grouping helps (and yes, it's in the text in the grid of info), but an icon (such as a shot of the in-Canvas "switch" toggle) would go a long way to noticing things that we have to remember to turn on (or turn off).

Thanks for the updates. I'm hoping this might make it easier for me to manage my subscriptions so I can still get "everything" in the product blog/release notes/etc areas, but also unsubscribe from the other-language release notes.


Woohoo!! Next up let us not have to sign up for multiple user groups -- maybe attach it to this type of area as well. Thank you all!!

Community Contributor

This makes me a happy admin! Will known issue fixes also be included here? What about product updates, like New Quizzes?

Instructure Alumni
Instructure Alumni


Known Issues has a button further down the page that you can use to access those. They're also individually linked in deploy notes where relevant.

New Quizzes and other feature user groups have links in the page sidebar.


User groups are intended to be subscribed to individually should you want to follow a feature that is in development. We do put summary links in the sidebar along with the date of the next release.




I understand, @erinhmcmillan however if an institution is interested in using multiple tools or features this clogs our subscription feed. There must be an easier way so we dont need to subscribe to multiple pages.

Community Champion

Thank you, this will make it easier to keep track! 

IMO it would also be great if the discussion was moved back to this central spot rather than in Q&A spots. Those discussions and hearing what other people were finding was really helpful for us in figuring out how to implement these releases, and on some occasions the comments the community made helped Canvas improve the features before they were released, or even cancel releasing things that weren't going to work. Having them in the Q&As isn't as effective. Although I do think that involving us earlier, such as through the user groups and the needs surveys, is very very helpful in avoiding a lot of those pitfalls, so thank you for doing that, too. 

Community Participant

This is a WAY overdue thanks but do want @erinhmcmillan and the team to know how much I appreciate the Related Idea Conversations section in the notes.

know you have been doing this for quite some time. This has been very helpful in seeing how ideas in the community influence product development. I have had a few folks ask "Do they really do anything with the ideas? Is it worth my time to submit and comment on an idea?".  With the Related Idea Conversations section, I can tell folks "Yes, they do!".

Keep up the good work and much appreciate the approach to continuous improvement in the Community. 

Instructure Alumni
Instructure Alumni

@venitk Thanks for your feedback. We made the specific change to put threads in individual Q&As so conversations can be followed more easily. if our platform provider will allow threaded conversations in our knowledge base articles, we'd be happy to reinstate that functionality. I haven't seen product managers who haven't been responsive in each thread, but please let us know if there is one that concerns you and is lacking attention. Subscribing to individual Q&As is also an option to stay caught up on any chatter that may be taking place.

Our product teams continue to refine how we release features, so I share your sentiment in negating the need for as much conversation based around pitfalls!

@DanBurgess thank you for the kind words. I must also say that @Stef_retired is the ringleader (quite literally) behind our ideas and I couldn't do a lot of what I do without her!


Community Champion

Oh interesting, @erinhmcmillan . Yes, agree 100% the threads in the Q&A help immensely. I can totally understand why you made that change with regards to the base articles. Thanks for sharing that reasoning. It's a shame base articles can't be threaded at this time. 

Community Champion

@erinhmcmillan  is this consolidation still happening? I just noticed there is a deploy notes release for 10/27.


EDIT: Never mind, I needed to read this post more carefully. Sorry!