Canvas Production Release Notes (2017-10-28)

In an effort to continually improve Canvas, Instructure, the parent company of Canvas, releases Canvas upgrades every three weeks along with Production Release Notes. Pertinent features and upgrades are listed below. You may view the full Canvas Production Release Notes for October 28, 2017, and its accompanying screencast. The next release will be on November 18.

Flash Content Reminder: Canvas displays Flash content as supported within major browsers. Microsoft Edge, Safari, Chrome, and Firefox default to HTML5 as the preferred method for displaying website content, which promotes a faster, more secure browsing experience. These browsers will eventually block all Flash content. For best performance in Canvas, course content should be designed to support HTML5. Recorded media content within the Canvas Rich Content Editor currently still relies on Flash and is being addressed by Canvas engineers. Any recorded content can still be accessed by manually allowing permission for flash content in the browser.

New Features

Rich Content Editor

Accessibility Checker

The Rich Content Editor Accessibility Checker assists instructors and course designers to maintain accessibility requirements in Canvas content. This tool only verifies content created within the Rich Content Editor. An institution may also use other accessibility tools to verify additional content in Canvas.

The Accessibility Checker is located in the Rich Content Editor menu bar. Depending on the size of the browser window, users may have to scroll the menu bar horizontally to view the Accessibility Checker icon.

The Accessibility Checker verifies attributes within the editor and notifies the content creator of common accessibility errors. The Accessibility Checker provides a user-friendly explanation about any errors and provides the fields or menus needed to fix the error. The explanation also provides a link to additional resources to educate content creators about the accessibility guideline. The content creator can easily correct the error and apply the fix using the editor.  Please view the Canvas Production Release Notes for October 28, 2017 on the Accessibility Checker  for images related to placement and functionality.

All components are designed according to the template set in the institution’s Theme Editor.

This tool verifies the following accessibility rules:

  • Table captions: Tables should include a caption describing the contents of the table.
  • Table header scope: Tables headers should specify scope and the appropriate structure.
  • Table header: Tables should include at least one header.
  • Sequential headings: Heading levels should not be skipped (e.g. H2 to H4). However, the tool does not check if the first header starts with H2 or whether the headings are sequential with the rest of the content in the page. Tables do not begin with H1, which is allotted to the page title.
  • Heading paragraphs: Headings should not contain more than 120 characters.
  • Image alt text: Images should include an alt attribute describing the image content. In an upcoming release, alt text can be included when uploading an image to help minimize this error. Additionally, users can identify image as decorative, which do not require alt text.
  • Image alt filename: Image filenames should not be used as the alt attribute describing the image content. Currently, files uploaded directly to Canvas create a redirect that does not properly verify image filenames, which will be corrected in an upcoming release.
  • Image alt length: Alt attribute text should not contain more than 120 characters. In an upcoming release, alt text can be included when uploading an image to help minimize this error.
  • Adjacent links: Adjacent links with the same URL should be a single link. This rule verifies link errors where the link text may include spaces and break the link into multiple links.
  • Large text contrast: Text larger than 18pt (or bold 14pt) should display a minimum contrast ratio of 3:1.
  • Small text contrast: Text smaller than 18pt (or bold 14pt) should display a minimum contrast ratio of 4.5:1.

Note: For text contrast, the Accessibility Checker verifies color using the same calculations as the WebAIM tool. However, currently the checker only verifies against Theme Editor templates with High Contrast Styles. To verify color contrast, enable High Contrast Styles in user settings before enabling this feature.

Updated Features

Assignments

Move-To Menu Sidebar

The Move-To Menu within the Assignments page has been changed to a sidebar and displays a nested structure of move options. This change helps improve consistency with other Move-To Menus in Canvas.

When a user clicks the Settings menu for an assignment and selects the Move-To option, the sidebar menu first asks the user to select the new assignment group, then select the placement of the assignment. The selected menu change is applied immediately in the Assignments page.

Previously the Move-To Menu included both the assignment group and the placement fields in the same window. Please view the Canvas Production Release Notes for October 28, 2017 on the Assignments Move-to Menu Sidebar  for images related to placement and functionality.

Discussions

Discussion Duplication

Discussions can be duplicated in the Discussions page or the Assignments page. The duplication option is located in the Settings menu for every available discussion. When a discussion is copied, the word Copy is added to the end of the discussion name.

Duplicating a discussion defaults the copied discussion to an unpublished status. All items in the discussion are duplicated including the name, description, and options. The person who copied the discussion is shown as the author of the discussion and is immediately subscribed to the discussion, and the date the discussion was copied displays as the last posted date. Please view the Canvas Production Release Notes for October 28, 2017 on Discussion Duplication  for images related to placement and functionality.

In graded discussions, duplication exceptions include the following situations:

  • Copied peer review discussions retain the peer review setting and Assign Review date, but the number of reviews per user will be set to zero.
  • Copied discussion are always assigned to everyone in the course; differentiated discussions are not retained for individual users, groups, or sections.
  • If a differentiated discussion includes an Everyone Else date, the copied discussion retains the Everyone Else due date, if any.
  • If a differentiated discussion does not include an Everyone Else date, the copied discussion does not include a due date.

Note: If applicable, the Discussions page displays any Blueprint Course icons after the page is refreshed.

Move-To Menu Sidebar

Within Pinned discussions, the Move-To Menu has been changed to a sidebar and displays a nested structure of move options. This change helps improve consistency with other Move-To Menus in Canvas and applies to both course and group discussions.

When a user clicks the Settings menu for a pinned discussion and selects the Move-To option, the sidebar menu first asks the user to select the placement of the pinned discussion. If the Before or After option is selected, the user can select the order of the discussion compared to other pinned discussions. The selected menu change is applied immediately in the Discussions page. Please view the Canvas Production Release Notes for October 28, 2017 on the Discussions Move-To Menu  for images related to placement and functionality.

Previously the Move-To Menu only moved a discussion before an existing discussion and did not provide any other location options.

DocViewer

Comment Expand and Collapse Link

When an annotated comment includes multiple content lines, the content box displays an ellipses notifying the user of additional content. This change helps minimize comments in a document and improve the number of comments that can be displayed within a page.

Users can click the ellipses to expand the comment. If a comment includes multiple replies, all replies are also expanded. Please view the Canvas Production Release Notes for October 28, 2017 on Comment Expand and Collapse for images related to placement and functionality.

Annotation Delete Icon Visibility

When a user creates an annotation, the Delete icon only displays as part of the initial placement. Once a user clicks away from the annotation, the Delete icon no longer displays in the page. The Delete icon only displays again if the user directly clicks the annotation. This change hides the Delete icon so it does not obscure annotation content.

Gradebook

Gradebook History Filters

The Gradebook History page has been redesigned for improved performance and includes display filters for a specific student, grader, assignment, and start and end date. Previously the Gradebook History page only displayed the name of the assignment with a grade change. Additionally, this feature is redesigned based on existing data in Canvas, so displayed content is still retroactive.

This change also removes the previous limit of 2000 grade changes and allows instructors to view all grade changes in the course. For admins, the Gradebook History page integrates with the Admin Tools Grade Change Activity log, which also does not include a grade change limit.

For individual filters, results are generated dynamically. Users will need to know the name of the student, grader, and/or assignment to type in the search filter. Matching results can be selected from the results list, and multiple filters can be used at the same time. However, filters are not applied without clicking the Filter button. Please view the Canvas Production Release Notes for October 28, 2017 on Gradebook History Filters for images related to placement and functionality.

Grades

Student Grades Table Design

To improve typography and design consistency across Canvas, the student Grades page includes updated CSS for the table display. Table content always displays with a white background except for assignments affected by a grade rule set in the Assignments page. Previously all graded assignments also displayed a gray background. Please view the Canvas Production Release Notes for October 28, 2017  for images related to placement and functionality.

Rubrics

Criterion Icon Visibility

In the Create Rubric or Edit Rubric view, criterions visibly display all add, edit, and delete icons. Additionally, the Delete criterion column has been removed from the rubric table; the delete icon for each criterion is located above the criterion description.

Previously, when a user created or edited a rubric, criterion icons only be viewed by hovering over a rating. This change also removes previous functionality of adding ratings with additional incremental point values, though any point value can still easily be added by splitting a rating or editing the point value of a rating.

Ratings Rubric Descriptions

When a user splits a rating, the rubric displays an Edit Rating window that includes the rating score, rating title, and rating description. Rating descriptions are not required, though any content in the description also displays as part of the rating in the rubric. Rating titles and descriptions are never truncated, though content should generally be short and concise. Please view the Canvas Production Release Notes for October 28, 2017 on Rating Rubric Descriptions for images related to placement and functionality.

Rubric description ratings display in all areas where rubrics can be viewed including the course and account rubrics pages, associated assignments, and the student Grades page. In SpeedGrader, descriptions are included when a rubric is used for grading, but they are not included in the rubric summary after grading is complete.

Note: Description ratings only apply to rubric ratings; they are not currently available in outcome ratings. Outcomes added to a rubric only display the rating title and point value.

Fixed Bugs

Please view the full Canvas Production Release Notes for October 28, 2017 Fixed Bugs Descriptions and its accompanying screencast for more information concerning accessibility improvements and other bug fixes. Below are some fixes that may have affected instructors:

DocViewer

Point Annotation Tool

This change was deployed to the production environment on October 18.

Clicking the Point annotation tool does not affect other annotation tools.

Explanation: When a user clicked the Point annotation tool and then switched to another tool, the Highlight and Strikethrough annotation tools were not able to be used until the page was refreshed. Canvas code has been updated to allow other tools to be selected after using the Point annotation tool.