(this post is a continuation update from my prior post in May 2018)
8/13 edit: added release information for Cumulative Updates!
8/23 edit: added info on 'Print' option that previously existed in the Box UI
Now that we're on the other side of and getting closer to back-to-school period for many institutions it is a good time for an update on progress with New Box View!
Download with Annotations
As I discussed in my May update, we continue working to build the capability to download student submissions with instructor annotations embedded within the documents. We've been coding for several months and we're very close to completion! In fact, here's a quick demo video of the functionality in action:
Direct link to video hosted on Collaborate, with download in mp4 format available from the "hamburger" menu in the top left corner: Bb Collaborate
This new feature is being implemented with a combination of Learn-side changes and a new microservice: on the Learn side, when annotations are present within the document being rendered by New Box View a new button will be present for all users to download the document with annotations; on the microservice side, the new microservice will work in tandem with the existing microservice and help build the new PDF with original content plus annotations and provide it to Learn for download by the user.
This functionality will be made available through a Cumulative Update to the versions of Learn listed below:
- Q2 2017 CU9 – 3200.0.9 (available now!)
- Q4 2017 CU4 – 3300.0.4 (available now!)
- Q2 2018 CU3 – 3400.0.3 (available now!)
- SaaS CD – 3400.11 (released to Test/Stage on 8/8, Production on 9/6)
- SaaS FDO – next update window (schedule)
We are finalizing the timeframes for each of these releases over the coming days. As I have specific dates for availability, I will add them to the information above. Stay tuned!
Some additional details that will be noted in release notes or documentation, but I thought would be relevant to provide ahead of time:
For the initial release, we are focusing on the ability to download text-based documents only. While New Box View allows users to annotate on both text-based documents and images, the ability to download images with annotations applied is a significantly more challenging problem than applying annotations to documents in PDF format. We will continue to investigate supporting downloading annotated images as well as new file types that will support annotations in the future (e.g. Excel-based files).
All downloaded documents with annotations will be in PDF format, regardless of original file format. The time it takes to create the PDF version of the document will depend primarily on the size of the original file, with larger files inherently taking more time. Because of this, there may be a small delay between the time users click the "download with annotations" button and when the file is made available for download within the browser. We do not expect a significant delay; however New Box View allows for file sizes up to five gigabyte and converting a file that large to PDF may take several seconds.
We also removed the native 'Print' option from the Box UI (in the toolbar that contains the annotation capabilities) to help reduce confusion for users when looking for the right place to download documents.
There is a known issue with Chrome's built-in PDF viewer which may cause problems when viewing the PDF documents created with this functionality. Therefore, we recommend viewing PDFs using a native PDF viewer like Adobe Acrobat.
Annotations on Excel-based Files
Unfortunately, Box has been delayed in making this feature available due to technical limitations on their side and the previous timeline I had stated will not be accomplishable. We are continuing to receive updates from Box on the situation, and I expect to be able to provide a new timeline in my next update.
As always, thank you for your continued patience and we look forward to providing another update with more release information shortly!