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RCE Updates - Fall 2020

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You’ve got that stressed look on your face and my little boy is suddenly in preschool, so I guess fall start has begun! Here’s a quick update on the new RCE.

Things are going well. I mentioned losing sleep over the new RCE in my last post. Well, it’s a lot better now than it was then, thanks to your feedback and the work of a lot of people. Here are just some of the changes we’ve made in the last two months:

  • Added recently-used LTIs, LTI favorites, and the LTI toolbar group. In addition to lowering barriers to LTI tools in the editor, we’ve also allowed schools to hide the Canvas Media options in the toolbar to avoid confusion with other media tools.
  • Added split buttons to content input toolbar group. So now each of the content input buttons has a default action on the left side (insert external link, upload photo, upload media, upload document), and the dropdown which already existed on the right side. This means one less click for the default actions. Split buttons look like this:

Screen Shot 2020-09-07 at 11.04.05 PM.png

  • Added memory to the link navigator. Though the sidebar still collapses after a link addition, it remembers where you were last time when it reopens. (More on this below.)
  • Rearranged the toolbar to optimize for less-than-full-width screens. The placement of toolbar buttons now hopefully better reflects the priority of the average Canvas user. In short, bold is more common than LTIs are more common than tables. As screens shrink, we want truncation to reflect those priorities.
  • Made the menu bar always on. I admit this is prioritizing function over form, but it's also better than it was.
  • Removed auto-resizing and increased the default height of the text area. If you're still experiencing pain related to RCE resizing in beta, say so, because as far as I've seen we're solid now.
  • Dozens of bug fixes (and more incoming!)

These things are in varying states of release so keep your eyes peeled for the notes, but they’re all complete from a development perspective. Compared to where we were a couple of months ago, we've got a less clicky, easier to use, more accessible editor, and we're very excited about that! 

There are a few more things we’re in the process of working out.

  • Math in new RCE. We plan to expand our use of a library called MathJax in the new RCE to ensure that the math equations we render are easier to work with and more screen reader friendly than what we currently offer to people using the math editor. The current math editor outputs an image of an equation with alt text describing the image in LaTeX formatting, which is less-than-awesome for everybody working with that equation. To improve this situation, we plan to use MathJax to render math equations created in the math editor as MathML.
  • Extending the reach of new RCE. With a little bit of work, tools that aren’t a part of “core Canvas” -- namely our new quizzes tool -- could also make use of the Canvas RCE to provide a more consistent content creation experience across the platform.
  • Sidebar, slidebar, drawer, tray improvements. We’re still figuring out how to reduce unnecessary clicks in some sidebar flows. And we will figure it out -- it’s just a lotta ins, lotta outs. File search is also still pending.

If you hadn't already heard, the enforcement date for the new RCE was moved from December to January to avoid conflicts with finals. Our hope is that this provides a buffer for schools to plan for the best time to switch it on over the holidays if they haven’t done so already.

As usual, keep the feedback and bug reports coming because it’s your tool. Our oldest bug ticket that isn’t in progress was reported last week, so we’re doing what we can to respond quickly.

Feel free to ask all your questions and provide feedback in our New Rich Content Editor Beta Users Group.


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