Detailed MBC download needs work

It doesn’t make much sense to have the merit badge list field in the detailed merit badge counselor download use commas as the separator because there are merit badges that have commas in the name. Currently “Signs, Signals, and Codes” is a problem. I understand the new virtue signaling woke badge will be named “Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion” so that will also be a problem.

How’s about we use a reasonable separator like ‘;’ or better yet ‘|’ in that field instead?

I’ve not seen this detailed MBC download. Is it available to the Scoutmaster only?

The comma-separated-value (CSV) protocol allows the use of ‘escape’ characters to deal with the embedded commas by enclosing the field value in double quotes, e.g., Swimming,Lifesaving,“Signs, Signals, and Codes”,Plumbing. Spreadsheet programs like Excel understand CSV format and will handle it.

Commas are absolutely the most common delimiter. Using something else, e.g., “|”, would cause more problems in the long run. In my many years of working with delimited data I’ve used TABs as delimiters. It works pretty well but the fact that the tabs are visible can be confusing. And less flexible software can’t handle them.

I believe that it’s only available to the council, rather than to “regular” users.

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I believe it’s the download the Council Admin can do that it is referred to.
It comes out as loosely as:
Name, List of MBs

When comma is the delimiter between fields, it’s problematic when it is also the delimiter within List of MBs. It should be quoted, escaped, or use some other delimiter so it doesn’t have that ambiguity.

You can use the Scoutbook preproduction site with the Council Admin login to see the issue. That’s how I saw it.


I have seen pipe used a number of times. Again, as it was pointed out, comma is in the dataset. So, not a good character to use.

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Yes, it’s only available to council admins.

The problem is that there is no “standard” way to escape commas in a comma-separated field inside a CSV.

The header row for this file is:
"UserID","BSAMemberID","First Name","Last Name","Email","YPTExpiryDate","Units","Districts","ListingPreference","Availability","Merit Badges"

Note the last field, “Merit Badges”. This is a SINGLE field which, itself, contains a comma separated list of badges. For example:
"Family Life, Gardening, Reading, Textile, Signs, Signals, and Codes"

So is this person a merit badge counselor for 5 badges, or 7?

This, on the other hand is very clearly 5 badges, one of which is “Signs, Signals, and Codes”:
"Family Life| Gardening| Reading| Textile| Signs, Signals, and Codes"

Even better would be to eliminate the redundant spaces and do this:
"Family Life|Gardening|Reading|Textile|Signs, Signals, and Codes"

Comma is a TERRIBLE separator to use INSIDE a field in a CSV file. The giant brain trust at ScoutBook should change this.

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