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fred8033

Eagle workbook

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Posted (edited)

I'm a fan of the 2011+ era Eagle Service Project Workbook, but lately I'm seeing a lot of issues.  

  • Confused about saving the PDF to the hard drive before they can see the form.
  • Many scouts have chromebooks that can't run Adobe Acrobat Reader and thus can't edit the PDFs.
  • Many scouts find web sites that cache PDF files and end up using those old instead PDFs instead of the current workbook.
  • Some scout families don't want to run Adobe Acrobat reader due to security concerns.  I'm not sure those are currently valid concerns.  There may have been security concerns with older versions.  
  • There is no Word document version.  there is no Google Docs version.  There is no other format.  

It seems that BSA should

  • Have a Microsoft Word version
  • Have a Google doc / form version
  • Remove PDF restrictions blocking non-Adobe PDF editors
  • Create a web site that enables form-based authoring.

Another solution?   Are other leaders seeing scouts having trouble using the current PDF version? 

Edited by fred8033
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14 minutes ago, fred8033 said:

I'm a fan of the 2011+ era Eagle Service Project Workbook, but lately I'm seeing a lot of issues.  

  • Confused about saving the PDF to the hard drive before they can see the form.
  • Many scouts have chromebooks that can't run Adobe Acrobat Reader and thus can't edit the PDFs.
  • Many scouts find web sites that cache PDF files and end up using those old instead PDFs instead of the current workbook.
  • Some scout families don't want to run Adobe Acrobat reader due to security concerns.  I'm not sure those are currently valid concerns.  There may have been security concerns with older versions.  
  • There is no Word document version.  there is no Google Docs version.  There is no other format.   

It seems that BSA should

  • Have a Microsoft Word version
  • Have a Google doc / form version
  • Remove PDF restrictions blocking non-Adobe PDF editors
  • Create a web site that enables form-based authoring.

Another solution?   Are other leaders seeing scouts having trouble using the current PDF version? 

The solution?

1) Workbook instruction in plain-text ascii document.

2) Permit scouts to submit their project plan and report in-line with that text, in narrative form as an ascii document, or on their own paper - typed or handwritten, if desired.

Media should be irrelevant. If the average scouter can read it, and it's a good plan, it's a good project. Period.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, qwazse said:

Media should be irrelevant. If the average scouter can read it, and it's a good plan, it's a good project. Period.

Reasonable answer with caveats.  #1  Uses the same outline.  The delivered result should be easily recognizable as what is expected.  #2  It looks like a quality product that reflects the quality in the scout and the quality in the project.  One benefit of the form is that it constrains the adults involved in coaching the scout or approving the proposal.  Another benefit is it promotes the scout seeing his writing as a quality product. 

I fear plain ASCII document would cause scouts to deliver a shoddy product that would not promote pride in the scout or confidence in the EBOR. 

Edited by fred8033

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All I need to say, if there was a google docs version I would probably get at least 2 hours of my life back due to Acrobat being outdated and a hassle.

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On 4/30/2019 at 2:09 PM, fred8033 said:

Reasonable answer with caveats.  #1  Uses the same outline.  The delivered result should be easily recognizable as what is expected.  #2  It looks like a quality product that reflects the quality in the scout and the quality in the project.  One benefit of the form is that it constrains the adults involved in coaching the scout or approving the proposal.  Another benefit is it promotes the scout seeing his writing as a quality product.  

I fear plain ASCII document would cause scouts to deliver a shoddy product that would not promote pride in the scout or confidence in the EBOR.  

I'm now feeling so sorry for the committee members who reviewed my 12-point courtier triple spaced document using whatever outline the project instructions required at the time. :o

For our NIH grants, we are given an outline, and we write our 12 page proposal using those assigned headers. Project-specific sub-heads are three or for levels in. Some of our older grants are far easier to read than our newer ones. Because, background has increased, we propose to do more, but we have to pack it all between pages 1-12.

On 4/30/2019 at 2:32 PM, ItsBrian said:

All I need to say, if there was a google docs version I would probably get at least 2 hours of my life back due to Acrobat being outdated and a hassle.

Not only would @ItsBrian have gained three hours of his life back, he would have some swagger down the line when a colleague wonders how on earth their little department can write a grant application or contract.

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On 4/30/2019 at 11:18 AM, fred8033 said:

It seems that BSA should

  • Have a Microsoft Word version
  • Have a Google doc / form version
  • Remove PDF restrictions blocking non-Adobe PDF editors
  • Create a web site that enables form-based authoring.

There's some good ideas in this thread...

I particularly like the LAST of those 4 bullet points (web site with form-based editing) for several reasons:

  • It doesn't assume or require scouts to pony up a lot of money (Microsoft Word is common, but a license can be expensive)
  • It doesn't require creating an account anywhere or being forced to agree to onerous or unethical "Terms of Service" (Google doc might be free, but Google/Gmail account info is just as hackable and exploitable as Facebook, and corporate data abuses just as likely, even though it is true that Facebook seems to have hogged all the bad tech press lately)
  • It doesn't require any special license
  • It doesn't require installing extra software (not even a PDF reader)

By the way, PDF is more likely to print correctly across platforms and devices than other formats, though it is still frustrating when PDF creators block users or features from functioning, or worse, don't know how to make fields editable. A form that can be filled out online is a whole lot friendlier than one that must be printed out to be used.

 

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I gotta agree with @mrkstvns. My state taxes have a form-based option. And although it takes a little effort to learn because stuff has to be completed in a particular order, it is very reliable and the print-friendly version is easy to check. It even allows for write-in comments.

The Eagle app would be even simpler, and could be deliverable via Scoutbook.

The Eagle workbook could be similar ... web-based with an app that would allow the scout to work offline.

But, always ask who would it be simpler for? It is very simple for a Scout to take a standard outline for a plan, copy and insert all the details, get signatures at the end, and make it looks decent. That means variability in font choice, margins, and spacing. But who does that bother? The folks who have to look at hundreds of Eagle applications? It's not like any of us have never gotten bids from contractors.

For the scout how does filling out a form or downloading an app make it simpler than glorious copy-and-paste? Is the real problem that the workbook makes us look like we think bright scouts are too stupid to write for themselves?

Example: for a ticket item, I made an auto-fill form for Venturers to use to write a personalized script https://sites.google.com/site/venturingcrew321/recruiting a scout could use as a basis for a school presentation. The crew(s) who I developed/demonstrated it with thought it was really neat. But, to my knowledge, nobody ever used it.

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3 minutes ago, qwazse said:

... Is the real problem that the workbook makes us look like we think bright scouts are too stupid to write for themselves? ...

I'm not sure what it makes us look like, but the intention is not to limit the scout or make his job harder.  The intention was to put more constraints on the adults that approve the projects.  The workbook was created to enable the scout to focus on doing his project and less so on the paperwork.  

For example, ... if we didn't have the workbook ... I could easily see a return to the past where adults only approved project proposals with multi-page descriptions and detailed plans and detailed cost and ....

The constraint / inferences was never meant to be a constraint on the scout.

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15 minutes ago, fred8033 said:

I'm not sure what it makes us look like, but the intention is not to limit the scout or make his job harder.  The intention was to put more constraints on the adults that approve the projects.  The workbook was created to enable the scout to focus on doing his project and less so on the paperwork.  

For example, ... if we didn't have the workbook ... I could easily see a return to the past where adults only approved project proposals with multi-page descriptions and detailed plans and detailed cost and ....

The constraint / inferences was never meant to be a constraint on the scout.

That is so true....I could easily see a return to the past where adults only approved project proposals with multi-page descriptions and detailed plans and detailed cost and ....

Had a sad discussion with one Scout from another troop on his project.  The troop approver ONLY wanted CAD type drawings, no hand ones, no sketches from excel, etc.  The Scout was building some shelves or cabinets.  He wanted nailing diagrams, then cut sheets, etc.  Poor guy had submitted his project multiple times.

Most issues I see and hear about the workbook, and I work with 12 - 15 Scouts per year from our troop, deal not with the content or layout, it deals with the PFD document and how hard it is to work with.  As a document (generic term) it is good.  Easy to follow, keeps everyone on track.  The file format is lacking

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Posted (edited)
6 minutes ago, Jameson76 said:

Had a sad discussion with one Scout from another troop on his project.

For me, it was a scout from our troop.  Reviewers met monthly to review submitted proposals.  He got bounced five times.  Five months to get the proposal approved.  They lost the project book one time.  Fifth time it was bounced because they wanted a map to the nearest hospital added.  Project was organizing an usher closet and adding shelving.  

6 minutes ago, Jameson76 said:

The troop approver ONLY wanted CAD type drawings, no hand ones, no sketches from excel, etc.

Of everything I value the most in Eagle projects, it's the hand-drawings and items that help convince me that the scout was in charge of his own project.  If you require CAD, you get adults doing the project. 

Edited by fred8033
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3 hours ago, Jameson76 said:

...The troop approver ONLY wanted CAD type drawings, no hand ones, no sketches from excel, etc.  The Scout was building some shelves or cabinets.  He wanted nailing diagrams, then cut sheets, etc.  Poor guy had submitted his project multiple times. ...

Well, requiring plain-old-ascii would rid us of digital renderings!:rolleyes: But, I'm not sure how any workbook or rules will prevent a troop advisor for going off the rails like this. This is where the commissioner corps and getting leaders to roundtable really matters.

Certainly, for our grant work, the 12-page limit spares lots of blueprints, etc ... There are reviewers who would demand them (for our labs, etc ...). We simply say "they will comply to X standard"  or, "we will employ Dr. A, who has supervised similar projects ...."

I'm still seeing scouts being sent back over project minutae. But maybe it's not as bad as it was a couple decades ago. All I know is that it's worse than what it was 4 decades ago.

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Posted (edited)

Update on how things are happening IRL ... our progress reports to our funding agency now go through a system that prompts us for the details they need. Fine, I think it's nice that we address questions that may come up from folks who can't read our original grant. Plus, sometimes things change in the implementation and it's good to convey when an how that has happened.

However, there is a new system for inputting these things that prompts our administrative assistant for one thing at a time. This means that even if we give her a full write-up like we always do, she has to submit additional information in small (say, a few checkboxes, or a few sentences, or some numbers), and there is no way of knowing what will be asked for the next chunk until she submits the current one.  It would have been very nice if someone would have taken the time to say "you will be prompted on the following ...." and listed what would have to be prepared. Needless to say, we get random interruptions throughout the day as people stumble upon the latest question they can't answer but could have if we knew it was going to be asked of them.

The challenge with all of this workbook stuff, is giving both the macro (e.g. outline) and micro (e.g. specific text or signature, that may be needed) views of the planning process at the same time.

Edited by qwazse

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