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Scouting Forums

Scoutbook Redesign Plans?

@Wyssette What specific issues are you having? How can we help?

@RachelWilson1 - well I had wanted to look at scoutlander, but alas it returns a server busy white page.

Just wanted to add that Scoutbook is somewhat underwhelming in the UI/UX space, for sure. My wife won’t even use it and she is the pack fundraising chair. I don’t like it but can navigate around a bit. Parents are generally lost without a bunch of hand holding, though.

I work for a app dev company so I also understand the resource challenges. Perhaps open source it to the scouting community? We do that for some tooling and found it work for various things. This can help if the internally paid IT or dev teams are overwhelmed.

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The BSA has said multiple times they will not use volunteers for tool development, including Scoutbook.

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Bummer, thanks for the info!

Blockquotewell I had wanted to look at scoutlander, but alas it returns a server busy white page.

Shoot! Me, too. A “checker” site says it’s been down for a week. :frowning:

I wish I could check out this site, but it seems to be down. Rats!

@KristiBorowy - i did find this:

Well they should. If they did, I am sure scoutbook would be a very useful and easy platform to use by now.

Do you know why that is? As someone said above, their resources are limited and they are struggling with bankruptcy. Why not take advantage of the vast knowledge of adults involved in scouting? It would be thrifty and helpful…

Remember that Scoutbook is a free program. I personally think that it resulted from so many people not using Internet Advancement in any of its forms but just hand writing advancement reports to turn into local councils for their staff to enter. If your unit is willing to pay for an easy to use program send me a private message.

@KristiBorowy & @scouter11 @BenjaminChase - I will use a line that my drill instructor used at Ft. Benning… which part of did you NO did you not understand the N or the O… :slight_smile:

Even if someone from SUAC knows, they can’t really say anything that the BSA hasn’t either disclosed publicly or that they aren’t specifically approved to disclose. I suspect that the only answer BSA is likely is give would be “because we said so”. It’s been raised (and shot down) so many times in the past (even prior to the bankruptcy), that I suspect the BSA has “reasons”, whether or not they make sense to someone outside the loop.


Two quick thoughts, from my perspective as a developer, but I have no inside knowledge here…

  1. It’s easy to say, simply open-source the software and people will help. But it takes a considerable amount of effort to package software effectively for others to contribute. And on top of that, you need to establish developer documentation, coding standards, testing protocols and general communication practices to keep a community of developers engaged, on board and up to speed. Add to this, the fact that Scoutbook is a dated technology stack, these hurdles greatly increase, while the number of folks who could help dwindles.
  2. More significantly, as a single-instance app, it’s really not viable for an open-source community to adopt either. That is, no one who might contribute, would really be running their own version of the app. Instead, they’d need to figure out how to setup their own dev and testing environments, but they’d never really be able to run the final product themselves.

So “open-source” really isn’t an option. And opening up the code for a larger volunteer group to contribute to would take a lot of effort on the part of the core development team - probably more than they currently have to do what they’re currently doing.

Basically, it boils down to… it’s complicated.


And that’s actually a 3rd significant point…

  • Scoutbook is on a dated technology stack. Even if it were newer, it would still be quite a bit to deal with.
  • The application itself does a lot, supporting advancements, awards, events, messaging and more for Packs/Troops/Ships/Crews/Posts.
  • The permissions system is very complex - and crucial to get right.
  • It is in production and relied upon by thousands of volunteers every day across the country, so downtime and major errors must be corrected quickly.

So anyone who might contribute, would have a very steep learning curve. Hard to do with only 1 hour a week to help. :wink:


@SageLichtenwalner - 1 hour a week… that is a huge time commitment… not sure if I can sustain that :slight_smile:


What I can add is that based on the user base of scoutbook, the open-source concept would lead to chaos as multiple people have multiple ideas about how this show work and look. That is counter productive. My vote is for CLI but the average user would have no idea what that even is… sorry… an IBM AS400 person here.


Former IBM 360/44 then IBM 360/50 here. Punched Cards, ~ 1100 line a minute line printer (uppercase only), four 28 meg replaceable hard drives, 2 mag tape drives. Did some systems programming in assembly language. Some very large card decks. Debugging late night when there were no other users by single stepping through the program on the front panel.

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What is lost here in this post discussion is the original question from @KristiBorowy . Are there plans on doing a Scoutbook redesign? If not, why not? If so, when? If we can’t to an overhaul, can we clean it up a bit? Review some some language? Can we maybe put in some help widgets at certain places? Give the ability to make shortcuts to a user’s most common sites? You would be surprised how much help (to help other people at all times?) you can provide to people with a bunch of small things that don’t require a redo.

The site has a steep learning curve and field and naming conventions don’t make much sense to a novice user. From a user base, I’d venture to say that 95% of the user base are going to be parents, with Pack and Troop leadership making up the other 4.9%. If looked at from those user’s point of view, and getting feedback from a number of them, you could make pretty marked improvements to the usability.

I’d be happy to share my feedback, but NOT if there is a redesign or transition on the roadmap. I’m sure there are plenty here and elsewhere that would like to help, but we are also not into sharing and then having it go on deaf ears. To get back to the original question, does anyone have definitive guidance as to timing and direction of Scoutbook?

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@NathanaelThompson - this has been noted previously in this thread

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