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Canvas Deploy Notes (2019-11-20)

Canvas Deploy Notes (2019-11-20)

Canvas deploys contain code changes that are intended to fix bugs, improve performance, and prepare for new features, but they do not affect customer workflows. These deploys take place every two weeks and can be tested in the beta environment before the production deploy date indicated in the title of this document. Intended changes in workflow are noted in the Canvas Release Notes published monthly.

Deploy notes include notable fixed bugs and additional updates that do not affect existing user functionality.

Deploy Notes Change Log

Interface Updates



New User Tutorial Collaborations Text Modification


For institutions using the New User Tutorial feature option, the Collaborations tutorial has been updated to display more general text.

Change Benefit

This change updates the tutorial to remove mentioning any specific collaboration tools.

Affected User Roles


For new instructors using the tutorials, the Collaborations tutorial sidebar has been updated to reflect a more general purpose for collaborations: “Provide a space for users to work on a single document simultaneously from within your Canvas course.”


Deprecation Alert


The Gradebook displays a deprecation alert notice notifying instructors that the existing Gradebook version will be replaced by an updated Gradebook on or before 18 January 2020.

Change Benefit

This change reminds instructors that the existing Gradebook will be updated or or before the end-of-life date.

Affected User Roles


Instructors using the existing Gradebook view a persistent notice at the top of the page about the New Gradebook. This notice is not obtrusive and does not prevent instructors from performing any actions in the Gradebook. The notice includes a link to the New Gradebook customer guide and helps users learn more about the New Gradebook.

If instructors are allowed to enable the New Gradebook for their course, they can do so at any time to remove the notification and update to the New Gradebook.

Gradebook deprecation message


External URL Module Items Link

Community Contribution:


External URL module items set to load in a new tab automatically display to students in a new browser tab.

Change Benefit

This change minimizes the number of clicks required to view an external URL module item.

Affected User Roles


When an external URL item is added to a module, and the Load in a New Tab checkbox is checked in the module item window, users who click the external URL in a module will view the URL in a new tab by default.

All Users

Any module item with the external URL icon indicating the link will open in a new window automatically displays in a new tab. Previously the link opened a new window that only displayed a button to view the external content. The button had to be clicked a second time to view the external content.

Fixed Bugs




Gray text in the groups page displays a color contrast of 3:1 for the default Canvas interface and 4.5:1 for high contrast profiles.


The Attendance tool is not currently supported in the beta environment.

Assignment Grade Edits

Attendance edits are updated in the Gradebook.

Explanation: When attendance had only been taken once per user, and an instructor edited the attendance for the day back to unmarked, the assignment’s score was not updated in the Gradebook as ungraded. Canvas code has been updated to update scores in the Gradebook to reflect attendance edits.

Attendance Report and Multiple Sections

The Attendance report displays section ID data to show which students are enrolled in multiple sections.

Explanation: When an instructor took attendance for a student enrolled in multiple sections, the attendance report did not reflect each student’s section, although the Attendance tool can be filtered by section. Canvas code has been updated to display separate attendance for each marked section in the attendance report. Additionally, the section includes a Section ID column.

Cross-listed Sections

Attendance data is displayed in attendance reports for cross-listed sections.

Explanation: When a user was added to two sections, and the user was later unenrolled from a section that was cross-listed into another section, the attendance report and the Attendance interface displayed different enrollment results as cross-listed enrollments were not included in reports. Canvas code has been updated to display cross-listed sections in attendance reports.


Submissions and Unpublished Assignments

Module assignments that have received submissions cannot be unpublished in the module.

Explanation: When an instructor opened the modules page before a submission was made to an assignment, the instructor was able to click the unpublish icon for the assignment. The assignment itself was not unpublished but the Modules page displayed the assignment as if it were unpublished. Canvas code has been updated to make the Modules page confirm if an assignment has received submissions before changing the display state of the assignment.


Not Graded Assignments and Mastery Results

Not Graded assignments associated with outcomes criteria display mastery results to students.

Explanation: When outcomes were used in a Not Graded assignment where an instructor included outcomes criteria, the results did not display for students unless the assignment was changed to a graded state and graded by the instructor. Canvas code has been updated to display mastery results for Not Graded assignments.


User Initials Display Order

When users do not have a profile image displayed in the People page, user initials are displayed 

Explanation: When a user did not have a profile image for their account, the People page displayed initials in place of the image based on sortable name. Canvas code has been updated to display initials based on the user’s display name.


Safari 13 Page Scrolling

Viewing a rubric does not affect page scrolling in Safari 13.

Explanation: When a user accessed Canvas in Safari 13, viewed an assignment page with a rubric, and scrolled down the page, the user was automatically returned to the top of the page. Canvas code has been updated to not allow a rubric to affect the position of a page in the Safari browser.

Deploy Notes Change Log



Removed—Fixed Bugs

  • Canvas Data: Data Source Update
  • New Analytics: Data Source Update

Added—Fixed Bugs

  • Canvas Data: Data Source Update
  • New Analytics: Data Source Update

Changed—Interface Updates

  • Gradebook: Deprecation Alert content, link, and image

Added—Interface Updates

  • Gradebook: Deprecation Alert
2019-11-08Deploy Notes Published
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Regarding the opening external links in a new window automatically ...

  1. This does not work if pop-up blockers are enabled. It's been so long since I've enabled mine that I don't remember if it's the default in the browsers or not, but Chrome does recommend the blocker and Firefox has been pushing privacy, so I wouldn't be surprised if it was enabled there. At least Firefox warns you that it blocked a pop-up, but it took me a while to figure out what was happening with Chrome. You can still open it in a new tab yourself if you like. We like to train people that the pop-up blocker is good and doing it's job and that legit websites don't do pop-ups. It puts Canvas in a bad light. I've already had to allow many third party cookies on the site; again another privacy no-no. It's not that I don't trust Canvas, but I don't trust the rest of the world and so things don't function for me in Canvas unless/until I disable all these privacy and security features.
  2. When scrolling through the Next and Previous buttons, it automatically opens the external links in an new tab and that breaks the focus from Canvas. It is not marked as an external URL in the Next / Previous buttons, which seems like it would break accessibility. I would prefer that scrolling through the module items using next and previous not open it in a new window/tab at all. I often scroll through more than one item to get to where I want to go and this breaks the flow. I would prefer that it only when you click on the link from the modules page.

Hi, James,

As reviewed by our engineers:

  1. The popup blocker gets invoked because we programmability open the item in a new window. This behavior lets us navigate to the page with the previous/next buttons while automatically opening the item in a new window. This is the original behavior that customers asked us to solve. If the window is blocked, the item can be opened by clicking the button, which does not invoke the popup blocker as per the previous functionality.
  2. We do agree that we can reconfirm the accessibility component. Our engineers will discuss with our accessibility team and see if we can add a message to the previous/next buttons. However, we are directing the page to open to a new window if the course author has specifically intended the link to do so. 



I'm excited about the "External URL Module Items Link" change!  

Just to clarify, this does not affect the behavior of external tools set to load in a new window, correct?

Hi, David,

This affects any external tool with the checkbox selected to have the tool open in a new window, yes.


I am happy about the "External URL Module Items Link" change.

May I make a recommendation for the deploy notes, or maybe inside the various user guides?

Let users know, or remind them, that pop-ups need to be completely allowed or at least for (or whatever their instance's URL is). Putting together a guide would be helpful because each web browser has a different process for (1) letting a user know that a pop-up was blocked and (2) how to allow pop-ups.

I say this knowing that this is subject to change because of conversations that are happening at" modifiedtitle="true" title="Automatically open new tab ....  Since this is a change in previous user experience, it would be helpful to provide an official explanation in a separate Canvas Community article that is not hidden inside a set of release/deploy notes.

Thanks, Douglas. I'll send your comment to our documentation team for their consideration!


Hi, all,

Our next deploy notes document is available for your reading pleasure: Canvas Deploy Notes (2019-12-04)