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Eagle Project Workbook is exclusionary

The “fillable” Eagle Project Workbook continues to cause problems for Eagle candidates and Scoutmasters. Because it requires a proprietary program, Adobe Reader, in order to function, and this program may or may not be installed, and various users may not have it installed correctly such that it is automatically launched when the PDF is downloaded, and that Adobe Reader is no longer supported on Linux, it confuses many users, causes delays in processing, and excludes users who may not be able to afford to use systems which run Windows or Apple. Having to pass a PDF around or a scanned version of the signature page in the download-print-sign-scan-email to the next person is just not scalable and again causes needless confusion and delay.

Why is this not a web-based application?


I suspect there is not a web based application because that would take additional development work and since the BSA does not have unlimited money for IT development, it has not been done.

I believe the number of Scouts or leaders that do not have access to a system that supports Adobe Reader, especially since there are free versions that work on Android, iOS, MacOS and Windows is extremely small, small enough that the BSA won’t dedicate resources during the bankruptcy proceedings.

The BSA does not monitor these forums. I recommend providing feedback to advancement.team@scouting.org

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Thank you, @edavignon. I contacted advancement.team@scouting.org 4 times between March and June 2017 before finally getting a single response that said “The current workbook is what is required” and basically: go find a system that will work for you.

It continues to cause me and others significant issues.

I will try again, but will not hold my breath.

Well you can also use pen and paper too. Maybe it could be added to Scouting app? the various signatures might be confusing, but I guess if you got all the fields for each part filled in first, then it could be printed for sigs.


@PaulClarke - I know I have been able edit fill able pdf files within chrome. I no longer have a linux box to test with so I will have to test on browsers within the windows environment.

Why couldn’t it be done somehow as a Google doc? Scouts are familiar with Google products and unit leaders/districts/councils wouldn’t have so many issues because of the Adobe platforms. It causes a lot of problems, not just in the sharing of the document but for the Scouts. I have had many Scouts complete their proposals and plans only to lose everything because the file is “corrupt” when they try to complete the Project Report.

It all comes down to development resources and priorities. Yes, it could be implemented as a Google doc but to do so, I suspect the BSA would have to re-do the file. There is a good possibility the source is not in a format compatible with Google doc, Microsoft Word or any other common tool.

I suggest sending feedback and suggestions to advancement.team@scouting.org.

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I’ve just noticed that the workbook does not open correctly in the new version of Microsoft’s Chrome-based Edge browser, either:

Please wait…

If this message is not eventually replaced by the proper contents of the document, your PDF
viewer may not be able to display this type of document.

Other PDFs created by BSA open in Edge and are editable without issue.

I know resources are limited, but this workbook sounds like a great candidate feature to be integrated into Scoutbook.

I agree with this concern. When my son started work on his project, the formatting caused us delays. It would be a lot easier to share the link for anyone to open and see the details of the planning guide. Some scouts have less home and tech support.

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Many people cannot open Google Docs, because their employer restricts this. Yes, they may be able to do so at their own home on a computer that they own themselves, but many people who have a work issued computer just use that. Also, they may wish to be able to review and respond while at work. While many Scouts are familiar with Google docs, it would also do them good to do things in other ways used in the business world, rather than catering to them where they are. (It is, after all, supposed to be a learning experience.)

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Sure it would be easy to keep things difficult as a learning experience, or even make things harder. However, it is ridiculously difficult for me as a Scoutmaster, and I really don’t need more of the same learning experiences. The end result is passing just the signature page around in a download-print-sign-scan-forward game of tag, which is hardly a good lesson for anyone.

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My council doesn’t allow scanned signatures. All of the signatures must be obtained on the same piece of paper and original ink signatures submitted.

Your council is adding to the requirements and should be reported to national. National accepts scanned signatures (or did last summer when I helped a young many out and turned in an app with all but one signature being scanned.

There is absolutely NO requirement to use Adobe Acrobat to fill the form out. Page 70 of the Guide to Advancement covers this (bold added by me):

The requirement that Scouts use the Eagle Scout Service Project Workbook means they must use the official document as produced by the Boy Scouts
of America. Although it is acceptable to copy and distribute it, and even to transfer it to a different software platform or operating system, it must maintain the same appearance. No council, district, unit, or individual has the authority to require additional forms, or to add or change requirements, or to make any additions, deletions, or changes
in the text, outlines, graphics, or other layout or informational elements of the workbook.

Having said this - it would be great if BSA were to provide this in a web format. But… given their other software struggles I don’t see this happening soon.


The fundamental problem is that this is not how we solicit project plans in the real world. (Okay, mine’s federal grants, but I’ve seen enough proposals from folks in other fields to get a solid idea.) The applicant is given an outline of what he/she must discuss in the proposal. The applicant then writes an outline according to those headings. Literally, we could cut-and-paste the outline into our document and insert our text underneath each heading. (We don’t because these things usually have page limits, so we’re changing fonts.)
Seriously, BSA would be doing a better service to Life scouts by providing the “workbook” outline in plain old ASCII, which the scouts could use to build their own document.


I would guess that the number of Scouts out there using some flavor of Linux desktop is extremely small, and that small group probably has the technical expertise to handle a format that’s not natively supported in Linux.

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Those scouts are probably the last ones to worry about. But I helped a young man who printed the workbook PDF out and then hand wrote his answers to each section. Why?? Because he has no computer skills and the only device he is comfortable with is his cell phone.

@Qwazse I like your idea. The biggest issue that I see is that it seems clear that there is a perpetual fight against the “add a requirement” crowd. But if they put in these are the required sections and these are the recommended sections it should all be good.

While I think providing the PDF is a great thing. I also think BSA should explicitly allow for any type of system that can render into a similar looking report be used.

That the severely impacted group is small is exactly the point. This is about supporting diversity.

KirkWood, I don’t understand your point when you say “There is absolutely NO requirement to use Adobe Acrobat.” Nothing in “copying, distributing, or transferring” changes the format, which only works with Adobe Acrobat. (??)

Actually I was headed back here. The Guide to Advancement says that you can copy the workbook to another medium. But… your right it doesn’t lend itself to such. So while someone can transfer it to a word processing document, they must use Acrobat to get the original.

Personally I think it way past time the BSA stops such proprietary garbage. As mentioned elsewhere the heading should be available in ascii and let anyone inclined build up from there. I think some desire to protect intellectual property has run astray. If someone makes a buck making a scout’s life easier more power to them is my attitude. But they won’t make much as the market is very small and there are plenty of people who would provide such for free. (I might if I could get into the thing with another program.)

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