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Canvas Production Release Notes (2017-02-18)

Canvas Production Release Notes (2017-02-18)

In this production release (February 18), instructors can show and hide deleted discussion replies and be included in group collaborations. Additionally, instructors who can manually add users to a course benefit from an improved workflow process.

Admins and instructors can also view more standardized interaction with course student data using the Student Context Card feature, which must be enabled by an account admin and applies to the entire account.

Other minor updates have been made to several Canvas areas including APIs.

Production release notes also include fixed bugs.


Canvas New Feature Screencast (2017-02-18)

Next release schedule

  • Beta release and notes: February 27
  • Production release notes: March 6
  • Production release and documentation: March 11

Production release notes indicate Canvas updates that will be included with Saturday’s release and are subject to change. New features may differ from those available in your beta environment. Learn more about the Canvas Release Schedule.

Account-level features are not available in Free-for-Teacher accounts.

For advanced CSS and JS users: This release includes changes to the way Canvas loads and displays JavaScript files, which may affect styles and code in custom applications. Please view the Platform/Integration section for more details and view your Beta environment for any customization conflicts.

  New Features



Student Context Card

This feature requires the Student Context Card feature option, which can only be enabled for an entire account. Canvas admins can enable this feature option in Account Settings.

Instructors and admins can now view more standardized interaction with student data in a course. Currently, when an instructor or admin clicks the name of a student in a course, the link displays the student’s user details page. With the Student Context Card feature, instructors and admins can click a student’s name in a course and view a sidebar-type overlay that shows quick insights and context about the student. Users with student roles cannot view context cards in a course.

Context cards are meant to be a simplified overview of a student’s progress. The context is generated from grades in the Gradebook and standard page view and participation activity in course analytics. Mobile data is not included unless a user accesses Canvas directly through a mobile browser, or if a user accesses content within the mobile app that redirects to a mobile browser.

Context Card Users

Context cards are not supported for user names where the user is not a student (e.g. observer, TA, or other instructor). Clicking links for these user roles will always direct to the user’s details page or profile page (if the institution has enabled the Profiles feature).

Currently, student context cards do not display for inactive students or students with pending course invitations. The pending status displays in the People page, while the inactive status can be displayed in Discussions, Announcements, the Gradebook, and SpeedGrader.


Context Card Details

Context cards can display the following details:

  • Profile picture (if applicable)
  • Masquerade: masquerade as the student (link only available to users with masquerade permissions)
  • Student name or email: view the student’s user profile page
  • Mail icon: send a message directly to the student from the page
  • Course name and section: view the name of the course and section (section name only included for courses with multiple sections)
  • Last login: view the last login date (does not display if the student has never logged in); the card only displays the time when the login is on the current date, the day of the week when the login was within the current week, and the full date for any later logins
  • Grades: access the student’s grades page
  • Analytics: access the student’s analytics page (button only available to users with the course analytics permission)
  • Current grade: view current grade as displayed in the Gradebook (according to grading scheme)
    • For courses using Multiple Grading Periods, the context card only displays the grade for the current grading period; the card does not match the grade shown in any prior or future grading periods even if another grading period is selected in the Gradebook.
  • Number of missing assignments: view the total of missing assignments based on student analytics data, which generates data for both online and no-submission assignments in Canvas
    • For submissions not submitted online, assignment calculations may not be entirely accurate as they are attempted based on the assignment’s grade and when the assignment was graded
  • Number of late assignments: view the total of late assignments based on assignment due date
  • Number of last graded items in the course: view a maximum of the last 10 recently graded assignments with the assignment’s grade (shows according to grading scheme, but grades default to points if the grading scheme does not fit)
  • Participation activity compared to class: view the standard deviation of the student’s participation in the course compared to other students (none, low, moderate, or high)
  • Page views compared to class: view the standard deviation of the student’s page views in the course compared to other students (none, low, moderate, or high)

Context Card Link Locations

Context cards are supported anywhere in a Canvas course that displays a link to a student’s name. (They do not apply outside a course, such as in the Conversations Inbox.) No extra permissions are required for this feature; context cards are inherent specifically to instructor and admin roles.

In addition to the People page (course roster), frequent areas where student names display in courses include announcement and discussion replies, the Gradebook, and the Moderate page for moderated assignments. Current exceptions include links that direct to group context (such as clicking the name of a group leader) and student links in the Course Analytics page, which link to the student’s individual analytics page.

release-notes-feature-idea-icon.png Canvas Community contributions:

  Updated Features



Deleted Reply Management
When instructors allow students to delete discussion replies, or when an instructor deletes a discussion reply for any user, the reply was previously shown to all users as being deleted. If there were multiple deleted replies in a discussion thread, the discussion could become difficult to navigate among the deleted replies.

In discussions, deleted replies no longer display as part of the discussion thread for all users. However, if instructors need to view notices of deleted individual replies, they can view them using the Show icon located in the discussion bar. The icon also displays to TAs and any other instructor-based roles. (Student and observer roles cannot view this icon.)

Being able to view deleted individual replies can show instructors and TAs how many times a student has deleted a reply or can help troubleshoot student concerns with discussion replies. As with current behavior, users cannot view the actual post that was deleted, and any deleted replies for graded discussions do not appear as needing to be graded in the Dashboard or in SpeedGrader.


However, course discussions always retain the current discussion structure. If a reply is deleted as part of another reply in the discussion, the deleted reply cannot be hidden and still shows to all users as being deleted.


release-notes-feature-idea-icon.png Canvas Community contributions: 


Collaborations User List

In Google Docs collaborations created within a group, the Collaborations user list includes the name of all group members in addition to the name of any user with an instructor-based role in the course. This change allows instructors or TAs to be added to a group collaboration directly in Canvas. Previously instructor-based roles could only be added to collaborations by sharing the collaborations document manually.

Note: This change does not currently apply to collaborations using the Google Apps LTI or Office 365 LTI.


Add Users Process

When adding a user to a course, instructors benefit from an improved workflow process. This change clarifies how to manually enroll a user in a course and avoid unintentional enrollments. Only users with appropriate permissions can manually add users to a course.

In addition to email address, users could always be added to a course by SIS ID (if they had permission) or login ID, but the user window didn’t clearly show instructors how to use the alternative options. The enhanced workflow asks instructors to specifically select how they are adding a user and provides examples relevant to each addition type.

Instructors may have the option to select up to three search types: email address, login ID, and SIS ID. For each search type, users can be entered manually into the search field, or multiple entries can be copied from a spreadsheet file. Entries can be added by commas or spaces.


Email Addresses & Login IDs
The majority of Canvas users have an associated email address or login ID with their accounts. If an instructor has permission to add a user to a course manually, the instructor can use email addresses or login IDs for searching and adding users.


If Canvas finds multiple user matches for a search entry, the instructor can choose which user should be selected from the search results.

Open Registration

In Canvas accounts, admins can allow instructors to add users to a course even if the users do not yet have a Canvas account. This option is called Open Registration. Open Registration functionality only affects instructor-based roles; admins can always add user enrollments regardless of the Open Registration setting.

If Open Registration is enabled and Canvas is not able to find a match for a user using the selected search option, the instructor can add a name to associate with the entered information and create a new user enrollment for the course. Once the user accepts the course invitation, the user will need to create a password, which will create an account for the user in Canvas.


If Open Registration is disabled and Canvas is not able to find a match for a user, the instructor will not see the option to add new users to the course. The only users that can be added to the course are users who already have an account and display in the search results list, if any.


The SIS ID option only displays to users who have SIS permissions. Users without SIS permissions can only add users via email address or login ID.


For course roles, the SIS ID option displays to users with permission to read SIS data. This permission also allows users to view the SIS ID column in the People page.

For account roles, the SIS ID option displays to users with the account permission to Manage SIS data or the course permission to read SIS data. (If both permissions are disabled, the user cannot view the SIS ID option.)

  Other Updates


Global Announcements

Default Announcement Type

The default type for global announcements has been changed from warning to information. This change aligns with global announcement behavior, as global announcements are most commonly not associated with warnings.


Haitian Creole

Haitian Creole (Kreyòl Ayisyen) has been added as an available language in Canvas.

User Interface

Canvas Icon Updates

Several Canvas areas have been updated for icon consistency or simplicity and do not affect Canvas functionality:

  • Assignments: Student assignment submission sidebar and submission detail page
  • Outcomes: Aligned Items & Outcome Artifacts (accessed by viewing an outcome in a course)
  • Rubrics: Aligned outcome icon (displayed when an outcome is aligned within a rubric)
  • People: User Details sidebar and User Access Report



For details about using Canvas API documentation, please see the Canvas API Policy page.


Enrollment Terms API

The Enrollment Terms API displays override start and end dates for an enrollment type in a term (student, instructor, TA, designer). The Create Enrollment Term endpoints includes parameters for an enrollment type start and end date. The List Enrollment Terms endpoint also includes a parameter to include enrollment type overrides.

External Tools API

In the External Tools API, the Create an External Tool endpoint example requests include -X POST curl commands.

Submissions API

The Submissions API clarifies the User ID in submission objects and the Grader ID in the List Assignment Submissions endpoint. The Grader ID is shown as a positive or negative number depending on the process used for the grading. Canvas returns external tool assignments with the grader ID as the tool ID appended with a dash (e.g. "-1234") instead of a null value. This change was made related to multiple grading periods and allows Canvas to ensure grades are not being made by non-admins during a closed grading period.

The API also includes the List Multiple Assignments Gradeable Students endpoint. Similar to the existing List Gradeable Students endpoint, the new endpoint lists students eligible to submit multiple assignments and can accept multiple assignment IDs.

Users API

In the Users API, the Get User Profile endpoint also returns the LTI user ID.

External Tools

Grade Passback Tools

In the Grade Passback Tools documentation, the Data Return Extension section shows how to pass an LTI Launch URL.

Importing Extended Tool Configurations

The Importing Extended Tool Configurations documentation includes a Launch URL section, which includes the oauth_compliant parameter as a possible XML configuration option. The Launch URL section shows how to configure an external tool so that Canvas omits launch URL query parameters from the POST body.

Variable Substitutions

The LTI Variable Substitutions documentation has been updated for clarity. The documentation includes information about how to use and configure variable substitutions using the UI, API, or XML, as well as examples for each type.

New substitution variables include Canvas.course.workflowState, which returns the current course workflow state, and, which returns the institution-assigned email of the launching user.


Webpack Module Bundler

JavaScript modules are now loaded into Canvas using Webpack instead of RequireJS. This change allows Canvas to take advantage of conveniences available in a more modern JavaScript ecosystem while continuing to deploy JavaScript packages for all supported browsers. Canvas engineers have reviewed all existing JavaScript code against Webpack and have deployed Webpack in all beta environments.

Canvas admins should view their Beta environments and check for any customization conflicts with custom JavaScript files. The majority of institutions should not be affected. However, a minority of Canvas customers have been using the RequireJS build system for custom integrations by uploading a custom JavaScript file in the Theme Editor. Admins with custom JavaScript should confirm whether their file depends on the `require()` or `define()` functions. Canvas engineers have already coded a temporary adjustment for these functions without requiring any immediate changes, though the adjustment will log a deprecation warning to the browser’s console and include information about how to correctly adjust the JavaScript moving forward. For concerns about jQuery loading, admins should use the global $ variable that will be loaded before the script. 

If you are a Canvas admin who discovers a contrary behavior with custom JavaScript that you cannot resolve, please contact your Customer Success Manager for assistance.


SIS Import Format Documentation

The SIS Import Format Documentation includes clarification for Batch Mode functionality in that the option only affects data that has been involved in a previous SIS import.

The documentation also includes information about sticky fields in CSV imports.

  Fixed Bugs



Account Settings
In the Admins tab, when an admin clicks the Add Account Admin button, focus is retained in the the Add More admin type drop-down menu.

In the Reports tab, the Question Mark icon for each report can be selected as many times as required without refreshing the page.

When an instructor launches an external tool for an assignment, the External Tool window loops focus back to the top when screen readers or keyboard users reach the end of the window.

In the To Do list for instructors, the Ignore icon includes descriptive text for screen readers and indicates that the icon ignores assignments until a new submission is made.


When an instructor launches an external tool to add to a module, the External Tool window loops focus back to the top when screen readers or keyboard users reach the end of the window.

When MasteryPaths content can be released by multiple scoring ranges, the indicator tells screen readers that the content is released by multiple paths.

The Show/Hide icon at the top of Canvas navigation menus includes text to screen readers indicating the icon shows and hides the navigation menu.

When users can add a profile picture to their accounts, the image cropping tool has been replaced with a tool that is accessible to keyboard users.

Course Import
Account Outcomes and Question Banks
Account-level outcomes aligned to a question bank only display once in a course.

Explanation: When an admin created an outcome at the account level, aligned an outcome to a course-level question bank, and copied the course, the new course displayed the aligned outcome twice with the same outcome ID. Canvas code has been updated to only display the aligned outcome once in the course.

Assignment Availability
When assignments are copied into a new course, assignments default to being available to Everyone.

Explanation: When an assignment was assigned to at least one student or section and was not assigned to Everyone, assignments copied into another course were not available to anyone in the course. Canvas code has been updated to default assignments in course copies as being available to Everyone.

Instructor Group Calendar Events
Instructors do not view group calendar events in the Dashboard Coming Up section.

Explanation: When an instructor created an event for a course group, the group event also displayed on the instructor’s Coming Up section when the event was within seven days. Canvas code has been updated to not display group events to instructors in the Dashboard.

Sidebar Content Length
Long content wraps intuitively in the Dashboard sidebar.

Explanation: When the Dashboard sidebar included long content, the text did not wrap content intuitively. Canvas code has been updated to wrap content appropriately.

Discussion Search Results
When users search for a discussion in the search field, discussion replies show the original creation date followed by the date of any edits.

Explanation: When a user searched for a discussion in the Discussions search field, results displayed inaccurate date displays for original and edited date times. If a reply was edited, the edited time and date displayed at the top of the page instead of the creation date. Canvas code has been updated in the search field to always display the original creation time for a discussion followed by the date of any edits.

External Apps
External Tool URLs
URLs for external tools are not case sensitive.

Explanation: When a user configured an external tool with only a domain, and then added the external tool to a course with a launch URL that did not match the case of the host, Canvas generated an error message. Canvas code has been updated to make external tool URLs not case sensitive.

Concluded Courses and Groups
When a course concludes by term dates, instructors can view group information in concluded courses.

Explanation: When an instructor viewed a course that was concluded by term dates, the instructor was able to view all content as read-only within the course except for the names of users in each group. Canvas code has been updated to allow instructors to view group information in concluded courses.

Course Invitations
In the Course Activities section, the Invitation preference does not include course invitations.

Explanation: When a user set the Invitation notification to not receive any notifications, the user still received invitations for course enrollments. Users who are manually enrolled in a course receive course invitation notifications regardless of the invitation notification setting. Canvas code has been updated to remove mention of course invitations as part of the Invitation notification preference.

Quizzes and Learning Mastery Gradebook
Practice quizzes and quizzes with zero points do not affect the Learning Mastery Gradebook.

Explanation: When an instructor created a practice quiz or an assignment quiz worth zero points, outcome results were being created in the Learning Mastery Gradebook. Additionally, quizzes worth zero points aligned with an outcome in a question bank generated an error in the Learning Mastery Gradebook after students completed the quiz. Canvas code has been updated to avoid creating learning mastery results for zero-point and non-assignment quizzes.

Enrollment Status
Completed enrollments take precedence over inactive enrollments.

Explanation: When a user was enrolled in more than one course section with several enrollment statuses, the inactive enrollment was taking precedence over an active enrollment that was later changed to concluded along with the course. The inactive section enrollment prevented the concluded section enrollment from being able to view the course at all. Canvas code has been updated to make completed enrollments take precedence over inactive enrollments.

Post Grades to SIS
When enabled, the account-level Post Grades to SIS option applies to assignments created in course modules.

Explanation: When an admin enabled the Post Grades to SIS option at the account level, assignments created in a course module were not applying the default Post to SIS setting. Canvas code has been updated to always apply the Post Grades option to all new assignments in modules.


Google Cloud Assignments and Crocodoc
For submissions made after February 22, cloud assignments created in the Google Apps LTI are displayed like regular assignment submissions in SpeedGrader and support Crocodoc annotations.

Explanation: When an instructor created a cloud assignment in the Google Apps LTI, student submissions were being submitted as PDFs and were not able to be rendered by Crocodoc. Canvas code has been updated to support cloud assignments in Crocodoc like other supported submission types. However, this fix only supports new submissions made after February 22. Any submissions made before this date that require Crocodoc annotations must be resubmitted for the assignment.

Account User Default Emails
In the account-level User Details page, the Default Email field is updated when a user updates his or her default email address.

Explanation: When a user updated his or her default email address using the star icon, the user was able to see the updated email in the user’s settings page. However, in the account level’s Users detail page, the default email field did not update for admins. Canvas code has been updated to clear email caching in the User Details page when a user updates a default email address.

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These are great but you are missing the point in the grading feature.  Most teachers want an Inc or AB, to go with the E in the grade books.  It is great that they see the amount of missing grades and what not, but what to categorize them is essential.

One minor suggestion on the documentation.  Regarding this paragraph on the new Deleted Reply Management update for Discussions:

In discussions, deleted replies no longer display as part of the discussion thread for all users. However, if instructors need to view notices of deleted individual replies, they can view them using the Show icon located in the discussion bar. (Non-instructor roles cannot view this icon.)

My own testing on Beta indicates that the TA role has the new Show icon, as well.  I suppose most of us would assume that, but if one takes that parenthetical statement literally, one could assume that meant all non-instructor roles.  The TA is, of course, a separate role insofar as Canvas permissions are concerned, so perhaps a more accurate statement would be along the lines of:  (Non-instructor and non-TA roles cannot view this icon.)

I'm really disappointed that you decided to move forward with the change to the add people workflow given the amount of admins that disagree with your assessment that it is better in the Canvas Beta Release Notes (2017-02-06). This will increase dramatically next week as other higher ed clients who don't use Canvas authentication and can't keep up to date on release notes are negatively impacted by this change. 

The loss of the ability to copy an excel column into the box is a major negative and is not a fringe case. I'll tolerate the requirement to now select how we want to add people as in theory it should drastically improve the search time, but the fact that these terms and examples mean nothing to our faculty means they will struggle when they want to manually add someone to their courses.

I'm surprised you didn't delay this until at least the ability to add one person on each line was restored or at least put it behind a feature option flag. Given Instructure's commitment to user experience, I'm taking solace in the fact that I'm not alone in thinking unfortunately, you really missed the mark this time.

Thank you for the Concluded Courses and Groups and Enrollment Status bug fixes!  The groups has been an issue for us for over two years, so I'm especially glad that's gotten addressed now.  The enrollment status bug also generated a lot of tickets for us in January, since the Fall 2016 semester was the first time we used the inactive status.  Our students and faculty will be glad to know the feature is now working the way we intended.

Hello - this is a clarification request on release of the Context Card feature.  It was first noted in the Beta notes on 1/16 Canvas Beta Release Notes (2017-01-16) ;  and subsequently removed from the production release for 1/28.  While there was no mention of Context Cards on the Beta notes for 2/6 Canvas Beta Release Notes (2017-02-06), we now see the tool listed on the production release notes for 2/18.

While the tool remained in beta and is an optional or opt-in feature, there is no risk of this particular tool being enabled by default. But should the pending availability be noted on the beta notes on 2/6?   Also, there were quite a few comments about the Context Card on the 1/16 release notes and we are curious what issue was resolved to enable the feature to go into production.

Thanks, Jeff

Student Context Cards still do not show for custom roles built on student in our beta environment. All of our official enrollments that come from our SIS system are based on a copy of the Student role. When this didn't make it to the last production release, I was hopeful it was to allow all roles based on Student. Can you clarify if this production release includes roles based on student?

Hi Jeff - I believe that the reason the Context Cards were not included in the last Production Notes was due to accessibility. The engineering team wanted to make the feature was fully accessible for all users before it reached production. While it didn't make the Canvas Production Release Notes (2017-01-28)‌, it remained in Beta environments between 2017-01-16 and now.

Can anyone's clarify the following  bug fix about assignments?

Assignment Availability
When assignments are copied into a new course, assignments default to being available to Everyone.

Explanation: When an assignment was assigned to at least one student or section and was not assigned to Everyone, assignments copied into another course were not available to anyone in the course. Canvas code has been updated to default assignments in course copies as being available to Everyone.

Will this also allow the "adjust dates" feature to work?  Currently, if you don't have a differentiated asssignemt assigned to everyone or everyone else, when you copy the course and choose to adjust due dates, the dates do not come over at all.  

Im hoping this bug fix also eliminates this issue as you never realize the issue until after the course gets copied and then, frankly, it is too late. Such a pain to have to add in due dates again!

An interesting question, macaulayl‌!  I just now tried it on our Beta installation.  Now, I have to state the following caveat:  this experiment was performed on manually-created courses not tied to a specific academic term.  However, I took a sample class with a differentiated assignment with a due date of mid-November or so, and then copied that into a new course site and used the "adjust due dates" feature with a span from January 10 to May 5.  When I checked the new course site, the formerly differentiated assignment:

  • Was indeed reset to Everyone, as promised in the bug fix AND
  • Had a due date of March 30!

So it appears that it will work from early testing, though you may want to wait until you hear the definitive answer from Erin before popping any champagne corks.

I must agree with you  @buddyhall 

We often have to manually add students to a course, and being able to copy/paste a column from a spreadsheet is the easiest and fastest way to do this.


I'm having two issues with the new Add Users process, and I don't know if either are intentional. We have the "Open Registration" option DISABLED. When I masquerade as an instructor, the functionality is as described - if the email address or login id is not found in the system, the teacher is warned that the user isn't found and can't be added. However, our admins - both account admins and campus admins (custom role) - are able to move forward and use the "click to add name" to "create a new user enrollment for the account and the course".

The two issues:

1. I would prefer that our admins not have the ability to create users on the fly like this, because the other fields that normally must be filled in are not present. Once they are created, I don't see a way to edit their accounts or login info to add any additional details (SIS ID, password, etc.).

2. The users that are created via this process do not actually seem to be added to the account. I cannot find them via a User search. They ONLY appear in the course.



The #2 point is normal behavior--at least, it is on my campus. Users created via email enrollment in a course don't come up in account-level searches for users until they have initialized their account by following the link in the invitation email that is sent to them. 

Hi, Buddy,

I mentioned in the beta notes that our team had a ticket to address being able to copy and paste from a spreadsheet. Although that feature won't be available in Saturday's release it will be available soon after.



Hi, Buddy,

Our team is still finalizing that behavior and we are working to get it into the release as quickly as we can. As the student context card is a feature option, you can choose not to turn it on until that code is in Canvas.



Hi, Tracey,

The release notes include the reminder about Open Registration, which is intended to only affect instructor-based roles; admins can always add user enrollments regardless of the Open Registration setting.


Hi, Linda,

I would say that if Ken tested it and it seems to be working, then that behavior is an added benefit, though it seems to not have been specifically coded for that change. Smiley Happy



erinhallmark- I understand that admins can add users with the Open Registration open disabled, but since this is really introducing new functionality, a little more detail regarding admin workflow would be useful. Like I said, these added-in-the-course users are created with less detail than ones added via our usual process, and can't be edited. If I understand  @tom_gibbons 's comment correctly, once the user follows the invitation link, their account will be initialize/activated/whatever, and at that point the user is added to the account, and the user details should be editable. So, that resolves most of my concerns, but still opens up a brand new possibility (for us) to have admins creating accounts with minimal detail.  

Ditto. We don't manually add people to courses that often, but when we do it's almost always as a copy/paste from a spreadsheet.

Hi Kona:

We mostly do it for our on-campus high schools (we have two). While they make use of Canvas, their students are not included in the college's SMS, and so also not included in our SMS/Canvas integration, so the send us spreadsheets of the students who need to be added to each course in Canvas.


Hi, Tracey,

I apologize for misunderstanding your concern. I'll make sure I review this so our documentation is accurate for Saturday's release, though I'll also reach out to the product team if necessary.




Please follow the‌ project, which will have it's own 'priority' page soon in the‌.  Our team hasn't missed the point here, the development just isn't underway yet.

This new Add People workflow is absolute crap. It does nothing but add confusion by forcing instructors to pick among categories that mean nothing to them. That Instructure has the nerve to release a feature that doesn't allow bulk adding people from a spreadsheet shows they never think through their designs and don't care about impact on users. Following up with a fix later is not acceptable. Just shelve it until you can do it right. By the way, the example text happens to contain actual email and login ids of instructors at our school. I'm sure they will appreciate that. Good job.

Christine M. Doherty wrote:

It does nothing but add confusion by forcing instructors to pick among categories that mean nothing to them. 

Let's see about these categories.  

  • Email address - this is entirely understandable.  
  • Login ID - the format of this may vary by institution but everyone who uses a computer know what a login is. Right?
  • SIS ID -  Student Information System ID is the number, or primary key, that identifies students.  Faculty probably see reference to this number in a few places to include a class roster.  So it may not be entirely foreign.

216641_2-15-2017 6-27-58 AM.jpg

Thinking out loud here, but should a help or tip link be added to this page to suggest persons who have a list (i.e. spreadsheet), first copy the data in the column that has the student email address, etc. and then paste it into the provided box?  This may not be an apparent work flow.  Doing so worked fine in the past and there was no need to data manipulation such as adding commas, etc.

I am also very disappointed. It's ironic that I have been very busy with enrollments for second semester. I am just now getting caught up with the latest production news. We do ALOT of enrollment using data from spreadsheets. Currently, we can take a column list of student numbers and paste them into the dialog box. Once submitted, the students are then populated into the course. We experience very little errors because each student number is unique. This is a best practice for us because we have a ten day drop/ add period for our high schools. The schools fill out a form, we add the students. Works every time! 

I hope this is fixed before we have to enroll large numbers of students again (Summer). Even adding 5 kids one at a time manually is annoying. If the student cards were pulled last go round for accessibility reasons, I think this should be pulled for functionality reasons. We are losing the ability to do something that made Canvas an attractive LMS for our institution. I know a lot of people across North Carolina who are going to be upset because of this change. I venture to bet they will be blindsided, too. Most admins are busy being admins for their districts and rarely check out release notes or do beta testing in advance. The goal should be less "clicks" not more. A lot of people work flows are going to be elongated by this change.

Thanks for the clarification erinhallmark‌. It's nice that this is behind the feature flag and I look forward to the "as quickly as you can" make it work for us and we can toggle it on. Unlike the add people workflow modification, we feel strongly this is a beneficial addition to Canvas.

Hi, Ken,

Thanks for the suggestion and I can definitely clarify that in the notes.



Jeff Ferner wrote:


Thinking out loud here, but should a help or tip link be added to this page to suggest persons who have a list (i.e. spreadsheet), first copy the data in the column that has the student email address, etc. and then paste it into the provided box?  This may not be an apparent work flow.  Doing so worked fine in the past and there was no need to data manipulation such as adding commas, etc.

 @Jeff_F ‌ -- have you tried this in beta? It no longer works, you have to convert them to one line with commas to separate. This functionality will be coming back in a future release‌, but we have no idea how long we'll have to suffer through this "workflow improvement."

Right, I see this is not optimal. Ideas...

  1. Rather that keying in commas for long lists, the find/replace capability may be useful. For example, in a list of email addresses ending with 'edu', simply replace it with 'edu,'. A space is not required between the email addresses. Then copy/paste into the add people interface.
  2. With Excel, if the emails are in column A, select a blank cell such as cell B1 which is adjacent to the cell you want to add comma at end, enter the formula =A1&",", and then press the Enter key.  Then of course drag the Fill Handle down to the range you need. Then copy/paste into the add people interface.
  3. Perhaps automate #2 using an Excel macro.
  4. Use Gmail To: line.  1) Login to your Gmail   2) Click on Compose   3) Paste all the words in the "TO" area (Where you type in the email address   4) click anywhere else   5) click in to line.  6) Ctrl+A, Ctrl+C...   Just don't press SEND!  ;o)
  5. Go to .  Load your list of words, and enter a comma in the box that says "replace the line break with this text".  

    Click "Remove All Line Breaks"

  6. Or the easiest of them all....    Online Comma Separator    or   Sort My List - Alphabetize, Remove Line Breaks, Add Labels, Prune Text 

The above all work HOWEVER, it isn't a good idea to be inputting student information into online tools such as #4 - 6. 

I understand where you're coming from, but I've got a couple counterpoints --

  • Email address - this is entirely understandable.  
  • Login ID - the format of this may vary by institution but everyone who uses a computer know what a login is. Right?
  • SIS ID -  Student Information System ID is the number, or primary key, that identifies students.  Faculty probably see reference to this number in a few places to include a class roster.  So it may not be entirely foreign.

Email address - understandable, yes, but it's a. not the way our institution identifies people (we typically refer to their 'username' or 'university ID number'), and b. not a consistent identifier - we have multiple campuses using different email domains and a faculty member may not know which domain a student is using (meaning they'll inevitably search for the wrong email address and come away thinking 'oh, this student isn't in Canvas' when they can't be found - just because they don't use that domain). I suspect this may be a problem for other institutions even if they don't have the same multi-domain complication - I'm sure there are students using only their personal emails in Canvas and faculty will have no way to know what those emails are until they're told.

Login ID - sure, most people have an idea what a login is, but not what the format of it is. To a lot of people a login is an email address, for others it's a username. We have systems that refer to an email address as the login ID/username, others that refer to a series of numbers or letters as the login ID/username (and I know we're not alone on that front). I'm expecting to get a lot of contacts from people asking 'wait, what's the difference between email address, login ID, and SIS ID? I thought those were the same?'. Having three options highlights an issue that doesn't need highlighting: for a lot of people, the terminology is confusing.

SIS ID - some people refer to usernames as SIS IDs, which they are not (for us). My response to this is about the same as my response to 'Login ID' - having it listed will make people less confident when they're selecting a field because just seeing the three similar but different options will make them realize that they don't know what the differences are. We see this a lot with other systems that have similar setups.

Bottom line - before this change people were able to make an educated guess based on the single prompt they were given - "enter an email address" (or, for us, "...a username"), and more often than not they were able to figure out what they should be typing in. This change gives them two more variables to consider that they might not fully understand, and in this context, shouldn't really need to - and it'll lead to hesitation and support contacts.

Update: I put in a call and ticket to Canvas Support. They were very helpful/ understanding. They reassured me this will be resolved in a future release. They let me know the "product team created a new ticket to make sure multi-line functionality is retained. That change will most likely not be part of this release this late in the process but they'll work on it as soon as possible."

I know the tech is complicated and that changes/ updates are not always easy. Overall, I am happy that our input is being taken into account. It's nice to belong to a community that listens and responds.

Hi Emily!  Oh yes, all good points.   So what will be the approach you take to ensure faculty are aware of what they will need to do?  Do faculty receive a roster via email that contains one or more of these identifiers?  I assume faculty must receive this otherwise how would they know who would be in the course.  Shouldn't that contain the requisite data thus eliminating any guesswork on the part of the faculty?

They're provided all of that data - Login ID (IU username), SIS ID (university ID number), email address. The problem is that they don't need to be considering all of that data when they're trying to add someone to their site in Canvas. It isn't that the information is unavailable, it's that they're not going to want to stop and think about the options when they're adding someone to their course. If you give people options, they'll stop and second-guess which one they're supposed to be using (and then we'll get a support call). If you give them one option, they don't have the chance to second-guess, and they'll tend to complete the process on their own.

In the big picture, I think one of the issues being highlighted from the Add users change is the inconsistency between "Canvas terminology" (email address, login id, sis id) and "institution terminology" (for us those would respectively be email address, uniqname, and UMID).  I know it would be more complicated to code on the back end somewhere, but I've always thought Canvas should have a resource file for each institution where custom names for some of their fields could be entered and then displayed everywhere in the UI in place of the Canvas name.  Also allowing for an example field would be great (for us: "teacher(at)" for email address, "teacher" for login is/uniqname, and "12345678" for sis id/UMID).


Between using the actual terminology of the institution and having an example to show, I think it would make things much clearer to most users.  It would be beneficial in other areas other than this as well (the secondary id column in grades could use a term faculty were actually familiar with).  It might not solve the multi-domain issue Emily Hunt mentioned for emails, but I think it would be a step in the right direction

I agree that the change to the Add People function came as quite a shock and caused us to do some last minute scrambli‌ng. We use some custom javascript to change the text in the Add People window to reflect our institutional terminology.


I have a question about the student context card feature. Is there a chance this could be available to TAs (and perhaps also custom roles we create for co-teachers) in the future?



Did you get custom javascript working with the changed dialog? If so, would you be willing to share?

Hi Jonathan, this also comes as quite a surprise to us.  Did you fix your custom JavaScript and if so could you share what you did?

Hi, Clea,

TAs can already view student context cards, so you should be good to go! They should also be supported for any instructor-based role. 



Silly question about the bug fix for Concluded Courses and Groups - does this mean instructors should be able to see the group homepage and content in concluded courses, or just the group names and student assignments? 

Good question.  Now that I've actually been able to test this, it's not the "fix" I was originally requesting (that our CSM said this was going to fix).  Our faculty want to (and should) be able to view the group homepages/sites for concluded courses.  I guess this fix shows the group members (don't remember if they were visible before), but still doesn't allow access to the group pages for concluded courses.  What will it take for Instructure to revisit this "fix"?

Hi  @buddyhall  and ninafox

Turns out our developer is still working on it. When Instructure updated the Add People dialogue box, they added in some different pathing that messed up the code we were using to patch the effects of this last update (e.g., clicking the Start Over button reverts the Add People box back to the new method, if a user doesn't exist the new feature lets ANY ADMIN add in a new user into Canvas... which is a big "no no" here). We are still working on our javascript patch due to the above complications and will be bringing this up to our Customer Success Manager.

Needless to say, this change is not helpful and was sprung on us with not enough notice and has made things far more complicated.

Just want to point out a minor bug with the updated "Add People" Menu.  According to the production release notes, the "SIS ID" option for adding a user is not supposed to appear if the "Read SIS Data" permission has been disabled.  However, if the user has pressed "Start Over" when adding people, the SIS ID does appear.

Thanks for the update. Do you or anyone else, know how to get around this, our teachers have to enroll parents into the courses as observers by copying email addresses and pasting into the "Add People" button on each course. Now with having to add a "comma" after each email address this process has multiplied the time it will take. 

In addition, after adding parents now, a second window now asks teachers to enter User names of each of the users just added. Now the entire process has add more time to completing this task.

Can anyone help:

1. copy - paste email addresses with commas 

2. with having to add a User name to each new user being added (in our case, Parent/Guardians)



HELP Needed:

Does anyone else, know how to get around the "new Canvas need" for commas to be added to email addresses when adding new users to a course, in our case Parent/Guardians??

Our teachers have to enroll parents into the courses as observers by copying email addresses (from Synergy>>Reports>>Excel)  and pasting into the "Add People" button on each course. Now with have to add a "comma" after each email address this process has multiplied the time it will take. 

In addition, after adding parents now, a second window now asks teachers to enter User names of each of the users just added. Now the entire process has add more time to completing this task.

Can anyone help:

1. copy - paste email addresses with commas 

2. with having to add a User name to each new user being added (in our case, Parent/Guardians)


We were told by our CSM during our monthly account call that the required comma-separated format is going to be retracted so that it will function as it did prior to the new Add People interface in some future release. Erin, can you confirm this?

Hi, Jeffrey,

As mentioned last week, our engineers have been working on code to change that functionality. As soon as I have an update to share I will let you all know and update the release notes accordingly. Smiley Happy



Thanks Jeff, I just found your comment on the email solution. I used #4, works great, it just adds another step for our teachers with adding Parent/Guardians as observers (don't ask why we are doing it this way) 

Do you feel that #5 and 6 are safe with using other people's email addresses on website, is it secure?

Thanks for sharing these solutions, I appreciate it!!! 


 @christopher_gil ‌ - my Spidey sense tells me to not recommend entering emails into such online sites in the event they are logging the entered text and selling the emails to some 3rd party spammer.  

More or less this is a demo that the capability exists to automagically enter commas where there is a character space.  

I would really appreciate it if we could just revert to the way "Add People" functioned previously.  I am really unsure what problem this change was supposed to fix.  When we manually add people, we do it from a spreadsheet using copy/paste as well.  This change completely broke the functionality of our custom roles, broke our JavaScript, and the new add options do not make any sense nor will it to our instructors.  We also cannot search using just the initial part of the email and now have to put the which makes it a lot more tedious.  If things do not change we will have to figure out out to get rid of the other search options and rename Email to what our instructors recognize, as well as fix our custom roles and the accompanying JavaScript.  Argh!

Thanks Jonathan!  Would you mind sharing when your developer figures out what is needed for your fix?