Update to Inline Grading for Assignments

Posted: 12/20/17; Updated: 10/29/18

The Inline Grading view for Blackboard Assignments has been a convenient way to grade student submissions directly in the browser. Behind the scenes, that has used Crocodoc to display the submission within the browser. Unfortunately, Box.com acquired Crocodoc in 2013, and was discontinued as of January 15, 2018. 

Fortunately, Blackboard has updated the inline grading service to leverage the New Box View API. It offers several improvements over Crocodoc, including improved rendering fidelity and expanded support for new file types. While there are a few differences between the two services, the new Box View will still provide a simple and convenient way to view and annotate on student Assignment submissions. In addition, existing student work in Crocodoc will be migrated to the new Box View, and will continue to be available. 

comparison of crocodoc with new box view

New Features

The new Box View supports a wider variety of file types, including image, video, and audio files, which can be viewed or played in the browser, instead of downloading them. It also includes the ability to print student submissions from the browser.

Features Lost

Unfortunately, some features are not available in the New Box View, because Box has not included them in their API. 

  • Annotation Types: Box View only includes point-based or highlighting-based comments, as well as drawing annotations. You cannot strike-through text, as you could in Crocodoc.
  • Download AnnotationsYou can download the student's original file regardless of file type, but you can only download the file with the annotations included if the original submission was a Word document.

Blackboard has been working with Box to request that these features be added, and Box has been receptive to the feedback. You can view the suggestions and vote on their priority on the Blackboard Idea Exchange

How Does the New Box View Work?

The New Box View is very similar to Crocodoc. You can add comments as a point-based or highlight on .doc, .docx, .ppt, .pptx, and .pdf files, or point-based only comments on .ai, .bmp, .dcm, .eps, .gif, .png, .ps, .psd, .svs, .tga, .tif, and .tiff files.

To add a point-based comment, click on the text bubble in the toolbar.

click the text bubble in the toolbar and type your comment, then click post


To highlight text and add a comment, click and drag to select the text, then click either the highlight or comment icon.

 select the text and then click the text bubble to add a comment

Questions and Answers

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Box.com purchased Crocodoc in 2013, and has announced that Crocodoc will be shut down as of January 15, 2018. Switching to the New Box View will allow for seamless use of the inline grading feature.

All of your existing student submissions and annotations will be preserved. In the migration, your annotation will be "baked in" to a PDF format, so they will no longer be editable.

This message indicates that the file is being processed, but the file is not automatically displayed once it has been processed. You can refresh your browser or navigate to another student submission and back, and should be able to view the submission. This is usually instantaneous, regardless of the estimated wait time given, but may take longer for very large files.

Safari's default security setting is most likely blocking the cookie that needs to be set to be able to see the New Box View (this is particularly true if your Mac has been upgraded to High Sierra). You will need to update the Privacy preferences temporarily to allow the cookie to be saved.

To update the Privacy Preferences:

  1. Open Safari
  2. Click the Safari menu
  3. Click Preferences
  4. Click Privacy
  5. Uncheck the boxes for Prevent cross-site tracking and Ask websites not to track me

Now you can return to Blackboard, view an Assignment submission, and correctly see the New Box View. Once you have successfully loaded the New Box View, you can return to the Privacy settings and check the boxes for Prevent cross-site tracking and Ask websites not to track me again.

This has been updated! You can now download the student submission with the annotations on it, if the original submission was a Word document. Blackboard is still working to add this functionality for other file types.

There are two types of annotation: point-based comments and highlighting (with or without commenting). Both point-based comments and highlighting work in .doc, .docx, .ppt, .pptx, and .pdf files. point-based comments work in .ai, .bmp, .dcm, .eps, .gif, .png, .ps, .psd, .svs, .tga, .tif, and .tiff.

Other files will display within the browser, such as .xls, .xlsx, .html, .css, .jpg, .mp3, .wav, .mp4, .mov, and more, but no annotation is supported at this time for these additional file types.