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BobWhiteVA

Troopwebhost vs Scoutbook

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16 hours ago, .40AET said:

Good News!!! Thanks for the update. One of the many great features in TroopWebHost is that the Scouts can login to their account and see where they are in their own advancement. They can also print a Scouting History Report which gives them a summary of everything they have completed. This has taken some of the work load off of our Advancement Chair. 

All the major Scout software have this feature. It has indeed helped keep the Scouts informed, although they hold the answer in their hand all the time: Their Scout Handbook and their blue cards (hopefully at home under lock and key).

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Read that announcement closely.

Quote

 

BSA’s Scoutbook Lite, which will replace Internet Advancement, debuts in early 2018

Scouters experienced in the development of apps or web platforms will be excited to learn that the BSA
will roll out a number of APIs (application programming interfaces).

The BSA will release a selection of specific, read-only APIs to Scouting volunteers in the first half of 2018.

There are no current plans to roll out APIs to third parties.

The system will no longer support the CSV data file import.

 

 

https://blog.scoutingmagazine.org/2017/12/21/scoutbook-lite-to-replace-bsas-internet-advancement-platform-in-early-2018/

The things concern me there:
"read-only API's", and "no...API's to third parties" and "no longer support the CSV data file import"

 

Those make me think that BSA is getting ready to give the shaft to all other Troop tracking programs.

Edited by ham_solo

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They are missing the fact that many units have been using other software for years. They have data in those systems that would need to be entered in to scoutbook which is no easy task without bidirectional apis. I doubt bsa knows the data schema of the other vendors like they do. If they required scoutbook to be used that would be a huge mistake. 

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19 hours ago, Back Pack said:

They are missing the fact that many units have been using other software for years. They have data in those systems that would need to be entered in to scoutbook which is no easy task without bidirectional apis. I doubt bsa knows the data schema of the other vendors like they do. If they required scoutbook to be used that would be a huge mistake. 

I don't think they are missing it, I think BSA is intentionally trying to get everyone onto Scoutbook.  They have a long history of making this a difficult process for units.  We used Scouttrack for years and you had to jump through hoops to connect to internet advancement.  TroopMaster was approved and hooked up to it, but was too expensive, and lacked a good UI for years.

What should they do?  They should make a solid SDK for I/O of all the data and let the market create software.  I bet an open source project on GIThub would end up being created and awesome, and free.  But BSA doesn't want that.

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1 hour ago, mashmaster said:

I don't think they are missing it, I think BSA is intentionally trying to get everyone onto Scoutbook.  They have a long history of making this a difficult process for units.  We used Scouttrack for years and you had to jump through hoops to connect to internet advancement.  TroopMaster was approved and hooked up to it, but was too expensive, and lacked a good UI for years.

What should they do?  They should make a solid SDK for I/O of all the data and let the market create software.  I bet an open source project on GIThub would end up being created and awesome, and free.  But BSA doesn't want that.

God forbid they push units to Scoutbook. We use if for our Crew but it would be a nightmare for troop management. It is way too clunky and the app crashes or is slowed down a lot. They have no idea of what a maintenance window is. If all units were to access their current environment, it would drop to its knees and grab it's chest and die. 

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On ‎1‎/‎15‎/‎2018 at 6:25 PM, numbersnerd said:

Scoutbook is pretty to look at, but cumbersome to navigate. As simple as it is to get info INTO Scoutbook, getting info OUT of it is painful

This!

I've used Scoutbook on a personal level for my son (when he was a Cub) since it first came out and it was(is) lovely but it can be a real pain to navigate. The links and where to click are not intuitive at all. That being stated, I liked the final product much better than anything else I could use for free as a parent and a lot better than Pack Manager or whatever it was called we used in Cubs.

Once he switch over to Boy Scouts, it has a lot less utility for a parent. I can't seem to do much of anything as it all requires troop approval (which I understand but I would like the ability for me, and eventually my son, to track his own progress and activity online).

Scoutbook doesn't seem to have either the bandwidth or the stability for mass adoption but it has a lot of potential.

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20 hours ago, Hawkwin said:

Scoutbook doesn't seem to have either the bandwidth or the stability for mass adoption but it has a lot of potential.

It is not really a bandwidth issue, technically speaking. The platform suffers from lack of computing power, has some serious API issues, poor coding and design issues, reporting issues and lack of a redundant architecture. It needs a great deal to be ready to server the masses that BSA hopes will use it.

It would be nice as a free app but I would not bet my unit on it. Much of the unit admin tools needed are not on the current system, and I would want to see any new release go through a HUGE stress test before moving my unit to it. That's years away at this point.

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On 1/29/2018 at 1:57 PM, Hawkwin said:

... and eventually my son, to track his own progress and activity online ...

Ya know ...  I always pride myself on being technically current and usually ahead of the game.  In fact, that's how I make my living. 

... BUT ... I have zero interest in having my son track his advancement online.  If he wants to look and see it fine.  But as much as possible, I want them face-to-face.  They will easy enough learn computers and moving forms about.  IMHO, scouting is about that interaction.  Encouraging scouts to update data in ScoutBook defeats alot of scouting's benefit.  As long as I can, I'll encourage my son to use his paper scout handbook to track advancement.  

Please note that I as a leader and adult want everything online.  Advancement.  Leader manuals.   Trip plans.  It all makes my life easier.  But for my son and his friends, I really hope they stay with paper as long as possible.

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4 minutes ago, fred johnson said:

As long as I can, I'll encourage my son to use his paper scout handbook to track advancement.  

The book is not necessarily the best utility for documenting or tracking progress. It is a good reference but not as good of a tracking tool. My son's is already starting to have damaged pages. It works fairly well for rank tracking but IMO it doesn't do a good job at all as it pertains to merit badges - and it really can't since there are so many. If we tried to print and list all the requirements for all merit badges on paper, it would easily run 1000 pages.

He already has to use the computer every time he wants to research a merit badge and print off the requirements. The book simply can't help with that. They book also cannot be updated as rules and requirements change as they have in recent years.

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@fred johnson  Scoutbook isn't intended to replace the Handbooks or the blue cards.  But it can serve as a backup, and also a great place to keep notes or pics.  For example, Scout visits a historic site as part of Citizenship in the Nation mb.  He can make a note of the date, take a pic(s), add some notes.  We still do most everything face-to-face, but it's nice to have a backup.  In addition, it's nice that everybody has access to the same information (assuming that it's kept up to date).

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1 hour ago, Thunderbird said:

@fred johnson  Scoutbook isn't intended to replace the Handbooks or the blue cards.  But it can serve as a backup, and also a great place to keep notes or pics.  For example, Scout visits a historic site as part of Citizenship in the Nation mb.  He can make a note of the date, take a pic(s), add some notes.  We still do most everything face-to-face, but it's nice to have a backup.  In addition, it's nice that everybody has access to the same information (assuming that it's kept up to date).

If only Scoutbook kept decent back-ups themselves. Their current disaster recovery model would not make many troops happy if they had a power outage or data loss. To be a mission-critical app like you suggest, SB would need near real-time back-up that is geographically remote from the primary data source. Otherwise **POOF**.

A Scout Handbook, an iPhone and Google Drive can help a Scout keep his primary source, and a copy in the cloud (and phone).

@Hawkwin, if you don't have Internet or wifi you cannot do anything with SB. It would be better if there was a client app that synced for offline use. It's current model is limited.

Edited by Col. Flagg

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3 hours ago, Col. Flagg said:

It would be better if there was a client app that synced for offline use

Very true!

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22 hours ago, Col. Flagg said:

If only Scoutbook kept decent back-ups themselves. Their current disaster recovery model would not make many troops happy if they had a power outage or data loss. To be a mission-critical app like you suggest, SB would need near real-time back-up that is geographically remote from the primary data source. Otherwise **POOF**.

 

Out of curiosity, where did you get the information about their disaster recovery model. I would think that because of HIPAA and PCI compliance most small service providers would outsource their hosting to companies that have redundancy and meet the security requirements whether they need to meet them or not. 

 

I know you can't read tone into typed word. My tone is curiosity and not snark :)

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18 minutes ago, krikkitbot said:

Out of curiosity, where did you get the information about their disaster recovery model. I would think that because of HIPAA and PCI compliance most small service providers would outsource their hosting to companies that have redundancy and meet the security requirements whether they need to meet them or not. 

I know you can't read tone into typed word. My tone is curiosity and not snark :)

Yeah, I didn't take it as snarky. ;)

I have friends that work in the IT group for them. Also, a bit of easy sleuthing and you can find who they use for hosting. You can also run a few traceroutes and pings (and a few other easy tool tests) and test the reaction and I/O of their servers. And that's just the physical side.

Regarding PCI, I don't think SB uses payment processing. At least I have yet to find it on the site. I don't think PCI or HIPAA apply to SB.

On the application side, anyone working with the software knows how slow and temperamental it is. It is good for some things, lousy at others.  

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On 1/30/2018 at 2:56 PM, Hawkwin said:

The book is not necessarily the best utility for documenting or tracking progress. It is a good reference but not as good of a tracking tool. My son's is already starting to have damaged pages. It works fairly well for rank tracking but IMO it doesn't do a good job at all as it pertains to merit badges - and it really can't since there are so many. If we tried to print and list all the requirements for all merit badges on paper, it would easily run 1000 pages.

He already has to use the computer every time he wants to research a merit badge and print off the requirements. The book simply can't help with that. They book also cannot be updated as rules and requirements change as they have in recent years.

 

On 1/30/2018 at 2:58 PM, Thunderbird said:

@fred johnson  Scoutbook isn't intended to replace the Handbooks or the blue cards.  But it can serve as a backup, and also a great place to keep notes or pics.  For example, Scout visits a historic site as part of Citizenship in the Nation mb.  He can make a note of the date, take a pic(s), add some notes.  We still do most everything face-to-face, but it's nice to have a backup.  In addition, it's nice that everybody has access to the same information (assuming that it's kept up to date).

I agree paperbook is not a good backup.  But he has a zippered cover with zippered pockets on the cover where he stores his incomplete MB cards.  

For backup, sure let an adult enter in the data.  Or use the online system to show the complete list of MBs.  

It's just that I want to encourage my son to be accustomed to working off line.  Even at 10 years old, these scouts are very comfortable online and using online systems.  I want him to benefit in scouting from using the paper copy and learning to stay organized and to work interactively with people.  the last thing I want his him to mark something completed on a web site and then wait until someone mysteriously in the cloud checks it off as "approved".  IMHO, that the process you want a parent to do, but not the scout.  

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