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Eagle Project Workbook is exclusionary

It’s not just unforgiving. It’s not just difficult to use. It is unreadable. When I open the document, it simply says “Error: This form requires Adobe Acrobat Reader DC for Mac or Windows”. I’m a Scoutmaster, and need to read, review, and sign many of these each year. It’s a significant problem for me every time. Imagine if you, say, didn’t read English and had to review an Eagle project proposal. :wink:

ISO 32000 is titled " Document Management - Portable Document Format" was released in 2008. PDF has not been a proprietary format for over 10 years now…

That doesn’t fix your access issue, but it’s not because PDF is a proprietary document format.

Well, you could have your Eagle candidate print them out on paper for your review and signature, or another member of your committee…

As others indicated the workbook is NOT iso compliant and in fact has active measures to not be.

The more I think about it - the more I think the right format for the workbook would be markdown. There are a number of good reasons for this starting with the fact it divorces the presentation from the content. In fact, this very post sort of proves my point because it is written in – markdown.

From there a means could easily be provided to covert the text into a nice looking document. In fact, it would be close to trivial to provide a web site, and cross platform executable to then print a nice rendition.

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I think that what @PaulClarke is getting at is that, while PDF that is compliant with the standard can be opened in multiple PDF viewing/editing programs, and is platform independent, this document is not able to be opened by anything other than Adobe Acrobat. There may be different reasons why, for example document security settings or proprietary components embedded into the document. From a user perspective, that looks like a “proprietary” format. I can’t state that it’s not compliant with the ISO standard because I suspect there’s a section that addresses how to handle document security within the ISO framework.

As long as we’re throwing out ideas, I’d love to see the document created in LaTeX (mostly because I’m not quite enough of a Nerd to manage to do it in TeX). :^)

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I doubt it has anything to do with protecting IP or trying to make a buck. Acrobat works for the vast majority of users (I checked – 2020 ain’t the year of Linux on the Desktop)

Source: StatCounter Global Stats - OS Market Share

Putting the form in a fillable Acrobat file prevents stuff from being accidentally removed or changed, and results in a pretty lightweight file for data transfer – we do that all the time for work.

So, as @edavignon said earlier, it comes down to resource allocation and priorities. So the question becomes, if you have 40 hours of dev time in a week, do you want it used to fix this, or to work on the laundry list of issues in the new activity logs? Spending time working on one thing means the time isn’t spent working on something else, after all, and someone has to defend the priorities they’ve set.

It appears that the Eagle Project Workbook can be edited in Foxit Reader without trouble. I added an additional picture and phase using Foxit Reader then opened it in Adobe Acrobat Reader DC. Note: I did not do an exhaustive test.

You can find the free Foxit Reader at https://www.foxitsoftware.com/pdf-reader/

It is supported on the following platforms:

  • Windows 7
  • Windows 8
  • Windows 10


  • macOS 10.13 or higher


  • Ubuntu Desktop 14.04 ~ 16.10
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server 6.x (64-bit) ~ 7.x
  • SUSE 12 Linux Enterprise Server
  • OpenSUSE 13.2
  • OpenSUSE Leap 42.x

For users utilizing the Active Directory Rights Management Service, the following systems are supported:

  • Ubuntu Desktop 14.04 ~ 16.10
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server 6.x ~ 7.x
  • OpenSUSE 13.2
  • OpenSUSE Leap 42.x


  • Verified as Citrix Ready® with Citrix XenApp® 7.13

It would be pretty simple to create a program where a scout and their leaders could log-in a fill out the workbook and save on their account. This would enable scouts and leaders to see and work on their books at any time.

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Regarding Foxit Reader, the OS Feature Matrix https://www.foxitsoftware.com/pdf-reader/comparison.html shows that “Form Filling” is not supported on Linux, and there is no Android client.

Yep, and it could even be something like Google Docs/Sheets: browser-based, thus cross-platform. (And free.)

Yeah. BSA should put some of their developers on it. It could be an extension of scoutbook.

Since it would only be used by 4% of all Scouts, such a program, to replace a simple form, may not be a good use of limited resources. Very few Scouts or adults in Scouts use Linux. So, this affects even less than 4%.


It would make it easier for scouts so hopefully it might increase that number. Plus it would be extremely easy to program.

Also about 8% get Eagle now due to lower membership numbers and easier requirments.

Maybe, but probably not. The total usage for Linux in the US in 2020 is a bit under 2% of all installed systems. The chances that any Scout or Scouter has access to a Linux system and ONLY a Linux system is pretty, pretty low.

I agree this is a topic for the development wish list, but I can’t see it getting worked on ahead of some of the other things that have been requested over and over (and over and over…)

As I have said before, the BSA does not monitor these forums. If you want to make suggestions for improvements to the Eagle forms, send an e-mail to advancement.team@scouting.org. The forms are owned by Advancement, not BSA IT. They are the ones that would be directing any changes.

I installed the current version of FoxIt reader (for “64-bit Linux”) on Debian 10.3 64-bit. When I open the “512-927_fillable.pdf” file with it, I get the “Please Wait…” message:

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.
You can upgrade to the latest version of Adobe Reader for Windows®, Mac, or Linux® by visiting http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html.

Of course, I get the same message with the distribution-provided tools “xpdf” or “evince”.

However, in my case, I also have access to a computer that dual-boots Linux and Windows Enterprise 7 (out of support), and on the Windows partition we have Adobe Reader IX Pro installed (also out of support). (In fact, that’s the computer that my Life Scout son primarily uses). I was able to open the workbook in Reader, print it using the “CutePDF” driver, and create a PDF/A version of the workbook. (Except it seems to be black-and-white rather than color; but the text s all there.) Here’s the result, in case it helps anyone. 512-927_flattened.pdf (892.2 KB)

Yes your correct. Many more pressing matters with BSA I.T. stuff.

So here is the rub and time to consider real costs? Should the BSA be spending any money on maintaining the workbook?? As long as they are using Acrobat there is a very real cost even if not a developer cost. We will start with a very real software cost. Even if Adobe is giving this to the BSA there is an IT support cost just to have it on the right person’s machine. Now add in that you have consigned the updates to a professional.

The mostly volunteer committee decides an update is needed and now a professional will modify the form and send it back to the volunteers. They will then look it over and then it gets published. Make the change and it becomes the volunteers update the list of headings and it gets published.

Not sure about the Android version of Adobe Reader DC, but for sure the iOS version can’t open the workbook form. If you try, it refers you to the window/MacOS version of the product.