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General feedback

For what it is worth: it really feels like someone is rewriting parts of Scoutbook and related tools because it’s either semi-recent technical debt or not written using the language and tools the developers don’t like. I get eliminating / reducing PDFs for stuff but this is getting over the top.

As an advancement chair, I was hoping to have a place I could file generic feedback but even the ‘feedback’ button in SB takes you to a generic help. I would like to request that people please stop with the rewrites. It already is enough to track what goes where, yet alone for things like activities, volunteer hours, etc to be moving around. Some of us A) don’t have the time to be tracking down the moving target the interface represents B) aren’t interested in providing up to the minute reports C) having the same kinds of information showing up in two completely different interfaces like merit badge progress.

You have a range of volunteers with various time commitments and it really feels like a giant waste of time to have every few months to re-learn components.

Consider a this a feature request: unless something is broken or unstable, please stop moving functionality around. Scout’s shouldn’t be about IT systems.

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I hear you, but the only way major improvements can happen is by replacing chunks of Scoutbook – and very often, the improvements are things that have been requested for years, like the improved activity logs.

I have two recommendations for you going forward.

  1. MAJOR changes are almost always accompanied with a big red banned on the Scoutbook screens, both when viewed from a phone/tablet and a computer, so it’s easy to catch the big changes that way.
  2. You can subscribe to the Scoutbook change notices here on the forum so that you get an email whenever an update is released. That should minimize the time you spend re-learning stuff when you get back into Scoutbook after a while.

Do you have a specific broken, missing, or moved feature you need help with? There are a number of volunteers that will respond quickly to help you either find what you are looking for or help you figure it out.

The days of yore when software didn’t change for a few years between major updates is gone. The new world is “agile development” where changes are incremental. It is by no means a static system. The good news is you will not likely encounter a day when you sign on and it is all different. The problem is that when you sign on small, specific, and maybe important things will be different.

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I’ll dig into the features that have moved. I will see what I can find and hop in here if something else crops up.

Otherwise I get that agile development means incremental features and changes will come quicker. Agile is there to produce value but that is for the business. We have parents who are in the tooling as well. As you roll out changes, it affects users who aren’t in it for incremental buzz either.

Again, I’ll restate: we are here to be Scouts, support of Scouts, and it feels like that’s getting lost in process. I just hope we aren’t taking these kinds of changes so someone can use something individuals like NodeJS or React vs Java or whatever/software infrastructure the old platform is written in. Parents don’t care about what language it’s written, the backend, the CICD pipelines or anything like that stuff but I digress.

I’ll take the time to go back to read the manual but I wanted to raise my concerns.

I don’t stay current in web backends, but what has been communicated to us is that the current backend of Scoutbook is outdated, hard to support, and monolithic. Users want many more features added to Scoutbook and better integration. To achieve both, they are using the agile methodology to developers the improvements. As part of these improvements to, they are peeling parts away from “classic Scoutbook” to what is poorly called Internet Advancement 2.0.

I, for one, have loved many of the improvements. An example is the recent addition of the capability for Scouts to manage the calendar. Another is the new (or new again?) RSVP report.

Don’t feel you have to only read the manuals. You can always come here and ask.

Here’s a discussion from just last week…

Your concerns are certainly valid. While Agile may be more of a process to improve business value, in the end, that ultimately depends on increasing user value.

The BSA is a large organization with limited IT, and a lot of technical debt. So, the process has been rather painful. On top of that, there have been a lot of organization changes (personnel, financial), and programmatic changes (i.e. continual refinement of requirements - both awards and business), so I don’t envy the developers, PMs, and community liaisons at the heart of this. I’ll take incremental change, while painful, over waiting forever for a massive change that breaks everything (and everyone) and misses the boat.

The good news is, there are a lot of changes coming… for example, see this announcement of what to expect in the next few months (including Scoutbook and other system changes).

Personally, I’ve done what I can to stay in the loop, while shielding the other volunteers in my unit. While it would be nice if everything was perfect yesterday, I’m happy with the direction things are headed, because it’ll be a lot better than where we’re at.

Activity logs were in Scoutbook. Why move them out of Scoutbook? The objective for the BSA should be ONE application that all Scouters can use to enroll youth, move them through programs, track their progress and have parents see that progress and then share that data with the National Council.

The litmus test on every change should be “How does it improve the Scout experience?” I also think that Scoutbook should have a nightly update to a central data warehouse that the National Council can access and analyze participation rates etc. Have Scoutbook and My Scouting integrated shifts burdens back onto volunteers for data the national council could easily get from a data mart.

We stopped using Scoutbook because it takes a ton more time to use SB than Google Sheets and Docs. I tried for 4 hours to load a list of events and it errored every time. So we simply do not put them in. A typical Troop could have 60-80 events a year between Patrol Meeting, Troop Meetings, Outings, etc. Loading them one at a time is laborious.

SB could be a great application, but from modern application standards, there are a lot of issues.

This question has been answered multiple times. The activity logs were moved to the Internet Advancement platform because of many user requests for enhanced features. The Scoutbook architecture did not lend itself to easy future expansion.

Scoutbook is written on a platform that is very hard to find experienced developers. Internet Advancement is written on a modern platform where finding developers is significantly easier. The long term plan is to migrate all of the legacy Scoutbook functions to the new platform. This takes time, especially when the BSA is constrained by the bankruptcy court on how it spends it limited resources.

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Thanks Ed - we will continue on continuing on.

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