Knowledgebase Home: 19. FAQs
Canvas DocViewer General Information
Posted by Shaun Holland on 12 June 2017 09:58 AM

Note: These instructions are for faculty teaching online or hybrid courses—not students.


Starting on Wednesday June 14 2017. Instructure will be rolling out a newly updated DocViewer for all Canvas clients. There is no specific ETA yet on when Rowan Online will be upgraded but it will be between June 14th 2017 and Saturday, June 24 2017.


What does DocViewer do?

DocViewer automatically converts common office documents into web-viewable and interactive learning experiences. This description probably sounds familiar because it describes most of the document functionality that already exists in Canvas. DocViewer will be available anywhere Canvas currently uses Box for content previews and Crocodoc for annotations. (Did you know that out of all five annotation types, point comments are used 49% of the time? Highlight and textbox annotations are the next favorites, followed by strikeout, drawing and area annotations.)


How is DocViewer different?

DocViewer is not that different from current functionality. DocViewer contains all the same document types and all the same annotation types, with some extra benefits!

  • Modern interface that looks and feels like Canvas
  • Improved performance
  • Fewer clicks


More features will be coming soon, including:

  • Color options
  • Persistent tool colors within an annotation session (and from session to session)
  • Free text annotations


Mobile Devices

For our institutions using mobile devices, annotations will continue to be supported in our mobile apps. New and improved annotation functionality will be part of our new Canvas Teacher mobile app and eventually replace the SpeedGrader app.


Why is Canvas switching to DocViewer?

We know SpeedGrader is one of the top used interfaces of Canvas where instructors spend a lot of time grading student submissions using annotated feedback. In turn, students can respond to their instructor’s feedback and may also be able to view additional feedback from other students using peer reviews.


For the past few years, we’ve recognized that relying on third-party tools can reduce the service that we can directly offer to our customers. Crocodoc has been a great product in building the interactive content experience between students and instructors in Canvas, but this product will no longer be supported by Box at the end of the year and will be replaced with a tool with reduced functionality.


The needs of our customers have unquestionably outgrown existing Crocodoc functionality—and that’s a good thing! Moving forward with DocViewer, we can:

  • Improve reliability of document rendering
  • Develop new features and product enhancements to drive a more functional roadmap (and adequately address annotation/document previewing feature ideas in Canvas Studio!)
  • Better address hosting needs for international regions
  • Enhance support for assistive technology users


DocViewer also gives us a stronger technical foundation to improve existing features, such as contribute to the next version of SpeedGrader. Implementing DocViewer functionality brings numerous future benefits to Canvas.

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