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You can now transfer and multiple between units using your My.Scouting account

Saw that after posting; but thank you. Again, this is the best and most needed improvement to our volunteer/data management I have seen since I’ve been active again as an adult. Really excellent and many thanks.

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In response to your inquiry (partially) I inquired to BSA’s CIO on this topic and he replied:

That’s a difficult one to handle, given all these reductions and re-organizations. Our focus as you can imagine is to get out of the bankruptcy + also be ready for anything that comes out as a result of Chapter 11.

For example, we had to come up with a whole slew of quick tools for Councils and Volunteers to manage user issues because we had to shut down Membercare and Shared services for Councils. Same with adding the CHATbot -

Not in a roadmap, but is the need of the hour.

Our published roadmap from the past focused on migration away from Scoutnet - we will continue to do that and simplify and consolidate interfaces even more as our pace allows. I think we have a 2-year runway before we fully get off Scoutnet - we will continue executing it, one step at a time.

Tools coming soon will include:
Support of promo codes and discounts for online recruitment.
Deep person searches for registrars.
Registrar bulk upload process.
Unit creation for Registrars.
Simplifying internet advancement interface, including calendar integration.
NESA, Alumni portal updates.
Updating the invitation process for Scoutbook.
Maintenance across all our products.

This list is a pretty dynamic one though (except the last item) and could change as things evolve around us evolve.

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This is outstanding information, Mr Hillenbrand.

I am (and I’m sure others will be) most grateful for the perspective and added detail you’ve gathered.

Further, I appreciate the magnitude of the job at hand… all things considered. You, and BSAs CIO should know your work is appreciated.

My closing suggestions here would be, first, to examine, carefully, the events of this week with the Scoutbook transition. It could have been done without the issues we’ve faced (cookies/cache) - I guarantee it. Pointedly, having both sites online and running at the same time may cost a bit more for a side-by-side infra in the short term … but there is a cost to the loss of reputation that has been sustained. It is not negligible.

Second, there are more techies in the community and open source presents a phenomenal opportunity. Moving to an open source core product suite would serve Scouting in more ways than a mere mention here could possibly do justice. If this has not been considered - even if it has - it needs to come back around for consideration.

In any event, these things digress a bit from the original topic.

Please know that I’m rooting for you - right now, because that is all I can do… And I believe that lessons will be learned from these events and do better. Every day.

YIS,

Adam

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Adam,

Scoutbook did not move to a new platform. It is still the same system running on the same servers. All that changed was the URL. BSA IT expected the transition to the new URL to be seamless. Obviously things did not go as expected.

I doubt the BSA would ever move critical business systems to open source. The systems contain a lot of personal information that cannot be released. Just think of the outrage and additional lawsuits if the BSA open sourced their systems and revealed personal information. The open source question comes up every few months. Each time the answer has been the same. The BSA will not open source their systems.

Open source doesn’t disclose personal information. That is a complete misconception (not totally uncommon) and completely inaccurate conclusion about the approach… further it’s not about the systems or opening them as the reply states. In fact I would bet you already depend on open source without realizing it.

Odd about the platform as there do appear to be rather significant changes, but I defer to you on whether there was an infra change.

Cheers.

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If Scoutbook looks different than last week, then you are being affected by the change in domain name and taken to Internet Advancement. You need to either run in an incognito window or clear your cache and cookies for scoutbook.scouting.org.

This is the Scoutbook login page.

Yes. Personal information must be kept private.

Yes, I would be happy to join lawsuits like that.

“Open Source” does not mean “everyone has full access to our production systems and data”. You can think of your IT systems in two parts. 1) Applications & 2) Data. Applications are things that make your website run. The data that is generated, like personal records, is stored elsewhere and kept very safe.

When someone asks about “Open Sourcing BSA systems” they are asking about sharing the Application code for other IT professionals to read and possibly contribute improvements to, on their own spare time.

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I get open source. Are their open source databases that are the end user database, not the database system? So, MySQL is open source. But what about the end user system? Could someone help with Scoutbook without having access to the real data? Someone would have to squash bugs on the real data side for submissions that others worked on not knowing the real complexities, no? Any examples where the implemented db is open source, but the implementers don’t have access to the PII?

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There have been many cases where the only way to figure out the root cause of a bug is to provide the developers the UserID so they could see if for themselves.

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I agree. My point above is I don’t know how effective a developer of an end user database (not database system, but the end application like Scoutbook), could be without access to the data. I feel like they could have a good idea, but really not know the effect until tried on the real (development) full dataset.

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@Matt.Johnson I was actually attempting to support that thought of yours with a real example.

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Any examples where the implemented db is open source, but the implementers don’t have access to the PII?

Yes. Drupal. https://www.drupal.org/ It’s one of the most widely used open source content management systems. It uses MySQL to store it’s data. The source code lives here: https://github.com/drupal/drupal I am not suggesting BSA IT publish the entire source code tomorrow. It would need close review by developers and security people to ensure it does not contain usernames, passwords, database connection strings, etc. There is a development pattern called “12 factor” https://12factor.net/ that makes it easier and cleaner to develop code, it is simpler to open source your code following these ideas.

Could someone help with Scoutbook without having access to the real data?

Yes. One strategy is using “test data”. It is similar to production, but names, etc have been changed. Effectively fake/dummy users are created and used.

Someone would have to squash bugs on the real data side for submissions that others worked on not knowing the real complexities, no?

Another strategy is having “test cases”. These are examples of functionality that can be repeated by anyone. BSA IT probably have testing professionals confirming the software works as expected. These test cases are automated, then they can be run by anyone.

Creating a great testing strategy takes a long time. You need to start with one test, get it working, the add one more.

There are also ways to take real production data and obfuscate it.

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There have been many cases where the only way to figure out the root cause of a bug is to provide the developers the UserID so they could see if for themselves.

That is a sign of a lack of test coverage. I encourage teams with bugs like those to create a new test case that will catch that bug next time. Start automating tests. Eventually test coverage improves and bugs go down.

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Great example, @CraigCook. I’ve been a contributor to the Drupal project for over 10 years. :wink:
The fact of the matter is that the vast majority of problems are fixed without data, or without any production data.

This is a very insightful discussion thread.

Superb examples of test data and test cases - 100% endorse the use of these components.

It is my sincerely held personal belief that working in the “open” direction, in a measured and careful manner, is in the Organizations best interests. In point of fact, I am a contributor on dozens of open source projects and there is a whole “community” aspect that exists in todays world. Open source contributors are a newer breed of Volunteer that should be incorporated into the Scouting ecosystem.

Thanks for your contributions here @jacobfetzer @Matt.Johnson etc … it really helps other people visiting later to ask questions and share thoughts.

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While in the past this may have seemed “crazy”, with the funding and staffing reductions, it may be the only way forward with any chance of success.

A great example of this is that I found a nice free site by a person that makes a ics to CSV/excel tool. This would be great to add to Scoutbook, but it has no chance of being integrated. It would have to come from National.

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On the “My Application” screen where you can request a transfer, if you enter a three digit unit code the search may have zero results. If so, add a leading 0 to make it a four digit number. e.g. 214 may not find anything, but 0214 will.

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This should be added to the FAQ.

Keep in mind - currently this this is isolated (going both ways) to your current council

This should be added to the FAQ.
Yes.

It’s also an example of why a thing called “unit tests” would help. Automated tests would be created to cover small bits of functionality. e.g.

  1. As a user in a council I can search using a four digit unit number and get results for a troop.
  2. As a user in a council I can search using a four digit unit number and get results for a ship.
  3. As a user in a council I can search using a four digit unit number and get results for a venture crew.
  4. As a user in a council I can search using a four digit unit number and get results for a pack.

This part seems to work. Extra unit tests are needed:

  1. As a user in a council I can search using a three digit unit number and get results for a troop.
  2. As a user in a council I can search using a three digit unit number and get results for a ship.
  3. As a user in a council I can search using a three digit unit number and get results for a venture crew.
  4. As a user in a council I can search using a three digit unit number and get results for a pack.

When developers make future changes to search, troops, ships, etc, these unit tests are run to confirm existing functionality is not unexpectedly broken with the new changes.

Yes. This is a classic input field type of programming. Strip away leading and trailing spaces, pad the value with zero if that is what is required, etc.

Instead of an FAQ entry, the system should be fixed to tolerate 0001, 001, 01, and 1 for Troop 1 since there is only 1 troop 1 and not a difference with troop 0001.

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