Written By: Elaine Jones, Product Manager
D2L has been introducing character limitations to various fields within Brightspace over the last few years. While a previous blog post in 2021 introduced these changes, we wanted to provide an update on this work and to give an overview of recent changes.
Figure: Example error message for a discussion post that exceeded the character limit.
Why are character limitations required?
Historically, some fields within Brightspace were created without limits on the number of characters that could be added to fields. In some areas of Brightspace, fields containing large numbers of characters could cause pages to fail to load; and on pages where multiple fields display, it could cause significant site degradation when loading the page. This contributes to a negative experience for users and could impact a learner’s ability to access Brightspace.
As a result, D2L has been evaluating fields to implement reasonable limits that will allow users to continue to use the system but reduce the likelihood of unintended actions causing site issues. Our priority is to evaluate fields that are known to cause problems, along with fields that are accessible to all user workflows (such as learner input fields).
D2L will continue to evaluate fields that do not have reasonable limits and could cause performance impacts. Evaluation of current usage of these fields across clients and reviewing the performance of pages is considered when determining an appropriate limit.
How are these changes communicated?
D2L has introduced character limits to various fields within Brightspace over the last few years and will continue to evaluate fields that do not yet have character limitations. Any limitations that are introduced will be found on our Fixed Issues List explaining the new limit that was added. In the case that introducing a limit may cause any data truncation or require a different workflow, these will be communicated as part of our Release Notes. Due to the ability for end users to potentially exploit the lack of a limit to cause site issues, limited notice for the changes is required. Normal public announcements pose a risk of potential exploits until the limit is in place.
Most workflows will not have any historical data changes, but rather any future edits to existing characters in fields would adhere to the new limit. When editing a field with a character limit, applied users cannot save the field until the number of characters is under the specified limit. If editing a historical field over the character limit, it will require a user to edit the field before being able to save. Cancelling the edit would leave the field as is.
Clients can request information about data in their environment regarding the limits from their TAM or D2L Support if required for user notifications. Due to the data sizes involved, the full text of items over the limit will not normally be provided. In most cases, Data Sets will contain further specifics about the data within tools, allowing for more analysis of items over the limits.
Between 2020 and 2022, limits for Chat, Announcements, User Profile, Discussions, Assignments, Blog, and Locker fields were introduced.
In 2023, the following changes have been applied so far (for more details please see the Fixed Issues List:
- (20.23.01) Quizzing feedback fields
- (20.23.03) Grades feedback field and Widget contents field
- (20.23.04) Quiz description, header, and footer fields
- (20.23.05) Email signature field