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

The BSA announced it will release Scoutbook Lite, a new tool for quickly inputting advancement data, in the second quarter of 2018.

This free solution will replace the current Internet Advancement platform, which will be retired.

Scoutbook Lite will feature a slick new user interface. It will be optimized to whatever device you use: desktop, tablet or smartphone.

Once Scoutbook Lite is released, the Scoutbook database will become the official record of advancement for the BSA.

Scoutbook Lite, as you might guess, comes from the team behind Scoutbook, the BSA’s advancement-tracking web app that has more than 1 million users. The Lite version of Scoutbook will incorporate key elements of the paid version.

Even after Scoutbook Lite is released, the Scoutbook team will continue to work on and improve Scoutbook as the full-featured application. That means you can expect frequent exciting updates.

Scoutbook Lite: What to expect

Scoutbook Lite will offer optimized functions for almost everything found in the current Internet Advancement platform.

I say almost, because one feature won’t be making the leap to Scoutbook Lite. The system will no longer support the CSV data file import.

The BSA found that less than 10 percent of units used this feature in Internet Advancement. The team focused instead on tools that more Scouters need and want.

Are you a programmer?

As Steve Jobs used to say, there’s “one more thing.”

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.

127 Comments

    • If you use Scoutbook (fee for use), you don’t need Scoutbook Lite.

      If you don’t use Scoutbook, then you need Scoutbook Lite (free for use).

    • My take-away is that they really are yet one is free and the other is not. “The Lite version of Scoutbook will incorporate key elements of the paid version.” Not seeing the end product myself I would venture to say that lite has many of the features not directly related to Advancement turned off. Similar to the Apps on the iTunes store vs the pay…one has ads and not all the coolest stuff (Free) the other has all the bells and whistles ($). I think it is great they are unifying the database, this will be better for us all in the long run.

      • If you have over 40 Scouts the price is $1. People keep saying this and that is incorrect. I heard people say this over and over. That is misrepresenting the truth. I keep correcting Scout leadership to stop doing this.

        Look here at the Price Optins matrix.
        https://www.scoutbook.com/

        • J, when I give a presentation on Scoutbook I aways say it is $1/scout/year for 40 or more Scouts (in multiples of $5) and it goes to as high as $2/scout/year for fewer Scouts. If your Charter Org charters multiple units (pack and troop for example) then you can e-mail scoutbook.support@scouting.org and request a combined subscription which could, depending upon combined membership, reduce the cost to $1/scout/year.

        • You are correct, but even if your unit doesn’t have 40 scouts, SB will let you combine subscriptions to get to the 40 scout threshold!

    • Not everyone uses Scoutbook, but everyone (that has advancement) will need the SB lite to access “Internet Advancement” (this is the current program that will be retired). I believe the new system is Akela.

    • Because the BSA wants money.

      I’ve related a few times what happened when I tried to contact the BSA to ask them about an API — this was when Scoutbook was new and so I created my own program because Scoutbook’s interface is terrible.

      Anyway, I contacted the BSA, told them that I wanted to release it for free, and asked them what sort of API they had, what I needed to do to get my program to communicate with Councils, etc. They told me that I’d have to pay the BSA’s licensing fee. I told them that they didn’t understand, that I wasn’t making any money off of it — it was open source. They basically told me to pound sand, pay for play.

      I’m glad they’re opening up something, but I’m not going to hold my breath as to whether these open API’s are going to be useful or not. I mean, seriously — how much does a BSA shirt cost these days even though they shipped all production to Bangladesh were it was supposed to be cheaper (and even though there are sewing companies here in the US, back where I used to live in Southern California, who have repeatedly stated that they can produce the shirts for less than the BSA is getting charged now).

      National is going to look for every chance possible to nickle and dime us, and decision are made by people who probably have a financial stake in the matter. This is nice, but these API’s are probably going to be worthless.

  1. Will SB lite allow scouts to view and track advancement like the full version or will access be limited like the current IA system.

    • Scoutbook Lite will only track completions like Internet Advancement does today. If you want to track a Scout’s progress towards awards and advancement you will need to use Scoutbook.

    • It looks like Scoutbook Lite will be a replacement for IA for units. Individuals or families of troops not using Scoutbook can create and individual or family account for little or no cost and have almost all the features of the troop version. Provided BSA ID numbers are correct it will sync with what the troops put in the database.
      I used the Individual plan on Scoutbook for two years before my troop switched. I liked the user interface and the ability to see exactly where everything was at a glance.
      Every week we would have a parent or scout ask for an advancement or merit badge report. Now the parents can log on and see exactly what is in the record. Parents can also give scouts their own account and make them responsible for keeping track of where they are.
      Scoutbook is by no means perfect. It has some glaring holes other programs have filled years ago. Troops can not enter or see information on adults other than the training report. Scoutbook also can’t use information from logs to fill requirements for advancement, merit badges or awards. It also does not provide intelligible attendance reports by event.
      One thing Scoutbook does that I haven’t seen in other programs is allowing for electronic Merit Badge Applications (Blue Cards). I haven’t seen anything official from BSA to say this is acceptable, but they did develop a program to allow all signatures on the card to be digital.

      • So not four hours after I made this comment Scoutbook announced activation of new reports. You can now get a useable report of hiking, camping and service logs.
        Now we need an attendance report by event.
        The printed advancement reports which have been available for some time are excelent.

    • SB Lite is for the Unit to submit Advancement to National only. Think of it the same as Internet Advancement; The Scout never saw or interacted with it.

  2. The interesting question is will ScoutBook Lite allow for inputting of data through other Troop/Pack management programs such as PackMaster and ScoutTrack? If not they have effectively killed off the competition.

    • Can you do that now…input data into Internet Advancement through other programs? (I don’t use them so wouldn’t know) but if you can’t then just think of Lite as a major and needed update to the Internet Advancement website.

      • Our troop has been using TroopMaster since 2004. ScoutBook doesn’t seem to import everything TroopMaster holds, so we’ve been reluctant to switch.

        TroopMaster DID export to IA, though. If it doesn’t interface with ScoutBook Lite, that will be a major inconvenience.

        • Tim, the problem isn’t that Scoutbook can’t import all data that Troopmaster holds, it is that Troopmaster changed their export file to exclude much of the data in Troopmaster.

      • Yes, units who currently use troopmaster 2.0 or another advancment tracking system other then Scoutbook can input all advancment into Internet advancement by running a Court of Honor report & “submiting to council”. The same will be true for those units that continue to use Troopmaster 2.0 or the like and do not switch to Scoutbook for their internal advancement tracking system. All units need to run a “Sync” with Scoutbook before the January 31, 2018 dealine in order to input advancement after January 31, 2018.

        To make it easier for me when explain to people when we talk about BSA Nationals switch to Scoutbook Lite: Only some units will have the Scoutbook paid subscription but all units will have a free Scoutbook lite account just like all units currently have a free Internet Advancement acocunt.

      • Yes, we manage all advancement thru Troopmaster, then did an upload to IA every COH. We have been using Troopmaster and Scoutbook sort of in parallel the last few months, and Troopmaster is a more sophisticated product in my experience: auto-updating completions, more intuitive interfaces and menus. I am hopeful there will be a way to send data from TM to SB Lite.

    • The importing of CSV and other files will not be available. Using TroopMaster/Packmaster/TroopTrack/etc. will still be possible, but they will have to input the information twice; Once in the 3rd party program and once in Scoutbook Lite.

      • Once BSA National rollsout Scoutbook Lite as their National tracking system (switching from Internet Advancement program) Troopmaster 2.0 and others will be able to create in interface with Scoutbook Lite that will allows those that don’t switch to the paid Scoutbook run a court of honor report & send new advancement to councils Scoutbook Lite.

    • Eric, in our council, we are seeing many troops go to Scoutbook and ending their use of Troopmaster. Scoutbook syns automatically with Internet Advancement and will sync automatically with Scoutbook Lite. With Scoutbook, there is no extra step of uploading data. It’s just done automatically.

    • Troopmaster sent an email the other day that they would build an interface for scoutbook lite.

      Personally, I am disappointed that BSA feels the need to try and shut out the competition. If Scoutbook was as good as Troopmaster, we all wold have switched by now!

    • The importing of CSV and other files will not be available. Using TroopMaster/Packmaster/TroopTrack/etc. will still be possible, but they will have to input the information twice; Once in the 3rd party program and once in Scoutbook Lite.

  3. So if ScoutBook won’t release the APIs to third parties, those of us who use Troopmaster for advancement, attendance, training and other tracking won’t be able to interface directly because TM is barred from getting the API information? Until Scoutbook (full system) tracks everything that Troopmaster does, no reason to switch as long as our Council still accepts paper advancement reports.

    • Alan, the statement from the BSA says the APIs will be read only, so even if the BSA allows 3rd party developers to access them, they will only be usable to extract information from Scoutbook/Scoutbook Lite, not add information to them.

      • Ed your response is correct but lacking one component.

        In the past IA allowed users to upload completed advancement data via 3rd parties. 2 years ago the full Scoutbook version was in the same boat. I was a Cub Master struggling with a poor IA system. My council registrar and I spent many hours together.

        National has identified weak links in this workflow going forward. Essentially the workflow is being reversed in an effort that allows BSA to maintain a stable database that can be uploaded more efficiently.

        IMHO what is happening: Everyone will either use SB Lite or use paper forms. Then they will be able to download records/data info to their favorite program. Paper forms will be an unnecessary delay. But if that is their choice …

        That is my take on read-only APIs. While National won’t release those to 3rd parties but encourage scouters to play with them, it’s only a matter of hours before the 3rd parties receive them and begin re-engineering the system. They need to look at it as downloading info from BSA instead of uploading.

        Let me know if I’m way off base.

    • Yeah, this really does seem a un-subtle attempt to kill off the competitors to Scoutbook. We use Troopwebhost and I haven’t seen anything on Scoutbook so far that would make me want to switch to it. It would be nice if the BSA would recognize that not everyone wants to use SB and make those API’s available to the 3rd party programs.

      • Exactly! Troopwebhost let’s me manage every aspect of my troop from advancement, finances, inventory, calendar, website and emails. Scout book doesn’t come close!!

      • We use troopwebhost too, our unit only has 25 kids, economically it would not make since for us to use Scoutbook. Not when we get everything that they offer for a cheaper price through trropwebhost.

    • They said the APIs will be read only so even if they did release them at best it could only serve as a confirmation of advancement and training that was manually input into Troopmaster first then printed out on advancement reports that were manually entered by BSA into the advancement system. Depending on what fields the API(s) get access to they could be useful in extracting data into some other system (Excel, Access, etc) to allow you to run custom reports or to allow you to track advancement items that Scoutbook doesn’t support yet offline and locally generate a more complete advancement picture by bringing in what is tracked. Just my $.02

    • Scoutbook tracks Advancement, Attendance, and Training. What features are missing from Scoutbook that you need? Maybe, if enough of us make noise, Scoutbook development can focus on those areas.

      • Heather asked:
        “Scoutbook tracks Advancement, Attendance, and Training. What features are missing from Scoutbook that you need? Maybe, if enough of us make noise, Scoutbook development can focus on those areas.”

        Troopwebhost offers all of the above, and many more features. Just a few of which is functioning as a Troop website, posting pictures on it, allowing scouts to post comments on those pictures, an announcement section on the home page, forms and document repositories, a much more extensive calendaring system allowing things like Patrol Leaders to sign up scouts in their patrols for events, or taking attendance for their patrols after events are done, better event attendance reporting and communications, a fairly comprehensive accounting system allowing parents to see how much Scouts have in their accounts and to pay for events from either scout accounts or via paypal or similar, a functioning fundraiser section that tracks all that kind of information, an interface that I can control with things such as which menu items show and which ones don’t, plus customizable CSS settings to control the look and feel of the site. The list goes on and on.

        (I wish we could do bullets in these replies)

        Our Troop was in the process of choosing TWH right when the BSA announced it’s decision to buy SB. We went back and re-evaluated SB based on that announcement and decided that the only thing SB really offered was the link to Scoutnet, and that wasn’t enough to make it worth it.

        Nothing I’ve seen since then has given me any desire to switch from TWH to SB, even this announcement. The announcement just annoys me, it won’t make me switch. To me it’s like going to the Scout shop and buying a BSA knife. You pay more for a substandard knife, just because it’s got the BSA logo on it.

      • I am glad you asked.Here are other features that my troop makes use of that aren’t in Scoutbook:

        Sending newsletters to people who have never sign into the app.
        Giving meaningful advancement reports
        Printing awards cards
        Training for adults
        Local training
        Keeping a copy of training certificates
        Working on Monday nights (well they may have finally fixed this, I don’t know it has been two years)
        App on my phone that works off line

        It isn’t that I want to bash Scoutbook. But competition is good. Things move forward when someone can make a better tool. But if BSA uses this to cut off a basic starting point then it speaks volumes to the lack of ethics in the BSA leadership.

        • From your list, Scoutbook does do the following:
          -Printing on award cards, blue cards, etc.
          -Reports on adult training
          -Performance has been good on Monday nights this year
          -There will be an app released 1st QTR 2018 (it is in QA testing now) for Boy Scouts and Parents

          On the advancement report side, Scoutbook continues to improve in that area. Some of the newer reports are:
          – Boy Scout History Report
          – Cub Scout History Report
          – Venturer History Report
          – Boy Scout Recognition Report (for courts of honor)
          – Cub Scout Recognition Report (for pack meetings)
          – Activity, hiking service log report
          – Payment Log Report
          – OA Eligibility Report
          – Unit Advancement Report – Sync’d version
          Those are in addition to the reports that were already in Scoutbook

          Scoutbook intends to continue to work on its PDF reporting capabilities, which have been requested by those who are use to them in other tools. If you have specific reporting needs, either place them on the Scoutbook forums, or if you are not a Scoutbook user, send an email to: SUACInformation@gmail.com

    • It has been referenced earlier in this thread. Basically, Lite is only for National to track the Scout’s advancement. Paid is for the Unit and the Scout and their Family to track their advancement.

  4. “I say almost, because one feature won’t be making the leap to Scoutbook Lite. The system will no longer support the CSV data file import. The BSA found that less than 10 percent of units used this feature in Internet Advancement. The team focused instead on tools that more Scouters need and want.
    … 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.”

    It’s very disappointing that the BSA would attempt to shut out existing scout management programs in favor of their own paid offering by removing the ability of those programs to talk to the online advancement program.

  5. As a Loyal user of Troopmaster not allowing 3rd party release of APIs is forcing us to revert to paper advancement and all the more reason I will never buy scoutbook. I will not be forced to use a program that is a monopoly. It should be illegal and shame on you BSA for promoting it.

  6. The photo seems to imply that the Lite version will be capable of recording advancement when you’re offline, like when you out on a wilderness hike with no cell service. Is that accurate?

  7. I hope they change course on the API and third party issue. Quite honestly, I think they owe it to the volunteers who make the organization what it is. Scoutbook is far inferior to some other products, and a lack of API for the core rank progress reeks of trying to get everyone onto the paid platform.

    We deserve a field where the best tools can rise to the top.

  8. How does this work with Sea Scouts. Scoutbook currently does not support our program, sadly. If Scoutbook Lite is based off the same programming, one would assume it wont support Sea Scouts as well.

  9. Will anyone using the current Scoutbook lose any inputted information when the update occurs? A lot of scouts with service hours etc is hard to remember

    • Kim,
      Scoutbook Lite will simply be another, more limited, view into the same database that Scoutbook uses, so, no there is no information lost.

  10. Love this, just hope ScoutBook Lite is set-up so units are forced to download the Council Roster before they begin posting advancements. We have some units who believe if they add a new scout to ScoutBook they have been officially registered with the council and the BSA. If they are allowed to add new scouts to ScoutBook Lite, the same problem will just keep happening. Working from the council level, we run audits on ScoutBook vs ScoutNet rosters and it’s amazing how many scouts we find that are not registered in our small council.

    • Sandy,
      As of January 31, 2018 any Scouts on the Scoutbook roster must be enabled for advancement sync or the leader will not be able to approve awards, advancement or requirements. In order to enable a Scout for advancement sync, the Scout must be on the official BSA roster. This should greatly reduce, if not eliminate, the issue you are seeing.

      • Just turned in recharter packets. We often don’t get anything back until March. Maybe if I log in the scouts will magically be there in the intervening two months. Otherwise, an already glacial advancement process (thanks to the advancement changes made a year ago) will come to a complete stop for those Scouts who were just registered.

    • I believe this is being resolved with a forced sync to rosters Jan 1. We have an issue of 2 scouts who have just joined and as they have no bsa membership numbers from national yet I suspect I will have to remove them to have my unit able to sync for Jan 1.

    • Sandy,
      If all goes according to plan Scoutbook will make changes in 2018 to handle your concerns.

      Scoutbook Lite will function like Internet Advancement.does today. The only boys shown will be those registered.

  11. Sr Engineer/Architect here, with ~30 years experience designing and developing APIs and massive carrier-scale services used in billions of modern devices for a ubiquitous tech firm.

    I’d be happy to preview APIs, volunteer opinions, etc.

    • Data currently in ScoutNET (Internet Advancement is just the unit’s interface to ScoutNET) will be ported to the Scoutbook Database. Nothing currently in ScoutNET will be lost.

  12. Way to go BSA, dont release the API to third parties and kill the competition. I am a Scoutmaster and work for a software development company. This is exactly the type of move tech companies are trying to get away from now.

  13. In Dad’s business, if 10% of customers wanted a product from our competitor’s distributor, he told everyone to hold their noses and use 10% of our warehouse and waste a day ever other week to stock the product!

    If CSV is out, what text file format is in for data transfer?

  14. Sadly, Scoutbook is way behind Troopmaster on what it can do. Troopmaster can run laps around Scoutbook. It is a shame that BSA is forcing out the competition. This is pure greed! Competition is healthy and what drives companies to do better and rise above the rest. I Haven’t let Council input my data to IA because they messed up really bad a few years ago. I was getting ready to try electronic but that will be on hold. All we can hope for is that Troopmaster will design the interface to allow us to do electronic as they stated in an email to their users.
    “This new interface does not replace TroopMaster/PackMaster programs and BSA is not forcing units to make any changes to their database management program. It is simply a new way to get your scout’s achievements to your council electronically. When they release Scoutbook Lite, we will be creating an interface to input the dates for you so you do not have to do double entry on their site.”

    • The more we are using SB and TM in parallel, the more I love Troopmaster. It is a very robust system, highly useful, and eliminates so much of the manual tracking/updating of service hours, leadership positions, partial merit badges, reports that help the SPL plan meetings (based on having/needing reports for ranks)…I could go on and on! not to mention an actual telephone number to call, staffed by knowledgeable folks who really know the product well and can answer your questions. A user guide (wow!) and well produced videos for the Web 2.0 that walk you thru all the basics.

  15. the multiple entry feature just started working on Internet Advancement–seems like the wrong time to kill it. Also, if units are forced to move to Scoutbook Lite, will it be free for everyone–or just the key3? For those of us who have never used (or been able to afford) it, what sort of resources/tutorials are available? I am a Cubmaster, COR, Commissioner and more, and my time is already stretched thin. I do not want to have to invest a lot of time in digging for information.

  16. I’m more worried that they STILL don’t have a customer support number. You have to submit a ticket…and they close it after replying to you. It’s like starting over again every time.

    • We recommend that if you have a question or issue, you first post it on the Scoutbook forums (you can get to them off your Scoutbook Home page.) We have volunteers monitoring the forums and you are likely to get a good answer very quickly. And it gives us the ability to have a dialog with you.

      • Yeah, Joe, why would you think that contacting customer support would allow you to have a dialog? Sheesh. Go to the forums. :p

        (Seriously, though, you may want to think about upgrading your customer support if you can’t have a dialog when someone contacts it.)

    • Hi Joe. Being a technologist and working for multiple software companies, I can tell you staffing a dial in phone number is just not efficient or “thrifty” when it comes to support. Is it nicer to be able to call in and speak to someone? Absolutely! But does it make financial sense? Unfortunately not unless you have a big product generating a lot of calls. Using chat or forums or submitted tickets is just a whole lot easier and cheaper to manage than trying to staff an 18h phone queue.

  17. I hope they don’t really shut out other programs. ScoutTrack was so easy to use to run an entire cub scout pack. I used it for calendar, contacts, managing who was in what den, emails to pack or specific dens or activity groups and advancement. Every time I looked at Scoutbook it was missing features and was more cumbersome to use. Stifling competition also stops or slows down product improvements and quality. You get what they feel like giving you and that is it.

  18. I’m glad that BSA is making an attempt to update the aging technology, but add me to the list of people frustrated that the direction appears to be locking out 3rd party developers like TroopMaster or TroopWebHost that do an AWESOME job of helping Troops to run everything. They should have equal access for synchronizing nembership/advancements/etc into the national system.

  19. I am not going to be sad to see Internet Advancement go away, But I am not thinking the new program will be much better than it was. My experience with BSA has been pretty sad when it comes to their software and record keeping. I was given the Re-charter kit for our units and there was one person that somehow got dropped… funny thing it was the one person that has been on the roster longer than anyone else on it… ME! I am the advancement, registration and re-chartering specialist and I don’t have a clue how I suddenly disappeared. Internet Advancement has dropped boys, lost awards and once suddenly added 4 boys to my unit that were from Phoenix, AZ… they don’t belong in a unit in Utah! Every time I have to process Eagle papers for someone in our unit I check the Internet Advancement records, the actual merit badge cards that I keep on file and the wonderful E-Trail to Eagle database that is our best database! I have yet to find one instance where the official BSA database was not missing at least 4 required merit badges. I always check everything because I know that Internet Advancement is not to be trusted. ( We have only had one small glitch with E-Trail where the 3 merit badges and activities entered when they were in the middle of a software up grade had to be entered again a week later. Sure beats having to re-enter the merit badges and ranks that the BSA site keeps losing!)
    Oh and because they dropped me off my unit’s records, I have not been getting my Scouting Magazine and only found out about the Scoutbook Lite program today on the news feed on my tablet. I hope they do better about letting the leaders know what is going on.

    • You might get a kick out of my experience. I had been registered as a unit leader for several years, when suddenly my name changed to my first name & my wife’s first name and our last name. I was not sure how we would manage to get YPT certification with a name like that! I never felt like I was two people.

  20. Dear developers:
    Looking for a “Theme Based” activity entry method. Please.

    i.e.: Hiked with the pack or family…what does that count toward?
    Went in trip to museum… what does that count for?
    Visited person in hospital….what achievement does that match?

    The single most area I struggle with in Cub Scouting is advancement. As Cubmaster I feel like I have to track five different detailed curriculums with numerous multi-part achievements.

    While I love the outings, outdoor education, bugs, worms, crafts, and games of scouting. The multiple parts of the advancements and SEPARATE recharter late night time homework is driving me away from serving in Scout leadership.

    Cubmaster must manage six different curriculums with pages and pages of awards to sort through, to produce six sets of rank kids on schedule by April or may, and the challenge is matching the fun with the precise activity requirements.

    Dan Rusin pack 967,
    Baltimore Council.

    • Dan, I don’t understand why you, as Cubmaster, need to fully understand the details of the program for each rank. The den leaders are responsible for advancement of their Scouts. If you suggest going to a museum, your den leaders should know or quickly be able to figure out which advancement that may apply to. Tools can help, but ultimately each den leader needs to understand the requirements for the den.

    • @Dan Rusin – it sounds like you are wearing too many hats. Your den leaders should be the ones matching up the requirements (for their book only) with the activities their Scouts do. You should be coordinating with the den leaders (at the monthly committee meeting) about what specific things they would like to cover with the Pack outing versus what they are covering with their Den meetings/outings.

      My suggestion to prevent burn out is a) make sure everyone is trained so they know who is responsible for each task, b) pull in more adults to help out and c) talk to your Unit Commissioner to see what suggestions s/he has for spreading out the work.

      Whatever you do, please ask for help so you dont burn out and walk away.

    • We will be working to more closely integrate Scoutbook with the recharter process in 2018
      Dan, would you send your contact information and a good time to call you to: SUACInformation@gmail.com I would like to discuss these requirements with you.

      • Most of the discussion in this thread has been interesting, but not particularly applicable to my unit because we don’t use any software tools to manage our unit (a small budget Venturing Crew). However, Bill’s comment about integrating Scoutbook with the recharter process got my attention. The online rechartering system has never been very friendly to Venturing Crews, although it was better this year.

        Maybe I am being alarmist, but I hope that National is not considering transitioning internet rechartering to Scoutbook Lite anytime soon.

  21. I really don’t understand why there is a need for this. The scouts should be tracking their advancement in their handbooks, and our troop keeps the advancement report copies as a backup to what we turn in to the council. When each scout joins, we recommend to their parents that they buy a pack of baseball card sleeves so they can put their merit badge and rank cards in the sleeves to save them in one place.

    • Ran, Councils are trying to get away from transcribing data from paper forms. This is very labor intensive. By asking units to enter their own advancement into the database, either via Internet Advancement, Scoutbook or soon Scoutbook Lite, they can dedicate the resources currently used for this to other purposes that benefit our youth members. There is also the issue of time. How often have leaders had to wait weeks or months before advancement paperwork is hand entered by the council?

      • Ed. I think, for this scenario, the “killer app” would actually input a photo of the boy’s book or unit copy blue card(s) and output the record for internet advancement. This is not unlike the check deposit programs of most banking apps.

        This keeps the “labor” of progress tracking on the scout, with whatever humble resources he may have, and automates the transcription for adults with smart tech.

        An open-source API for transferring records bi-directionally would motivate third parties to develop that app.

  22. Theme Based Software Hash Table Needed:

    Here are typical “Theme based activities ” that cub scouts do, that this Cubmaster would like matches to the six cub scout ranks:
    If a multi-age group did these typical activities, which individual requirements or achievement or rank requirements do they match to: ??
    1. sold Popcorn.
    2. group hike
    3. made birdfeeders.
    4. small carpentry project
    5. marched in Parade
    6. planted trees
    7. cleaned the river
    8. Scouting for food.
    9. sang carols.
    10. service project
    11. interview older person
    12. Visited fire/police/hospital, etc
    13. summer day camp (typical) activities
    14. visit farm / zoo / dairy / kennel/ Vetranerian
    15. cemetery visit, such as memorial day presentation,
    16. Scout Sunday participation
    17. bigger project such as cub scout push derby car.

    etc:

    these are typically done in Cub Scouting,
    but over the six ranks, matching these with the six ranks requires quite a hash table or matrix or knowledge of the detailed NEW curriculum.

    Can your software, or Corporate BSA leadership help with this??

    Dan Rusin pack 965,
    Baltimore Maryland Council

  23. Saying that “less than 10 percent of units” use the CSV data file import may be masking the significance of the impact.

    Is BSA counting all units, even those that don’t pursue advancement (which is common for Venturing crews in our area)?

    What % of scouts are covered by those “10 percent of units” (again, I would exclude any units that do not pursue advancement)? I suspect (but I admit I do not know) that larger units depend on the CSV data file import more than smaller units. For a small troop, updating advancement scout-by-scout, award-by-award is not as much of a chore as it is for a large troop.

    Also, use of the CSV data file import improves data quality as it reduces the likelihood of “fat fingered” typing mistakes making it into ScoutNET.

    • I agree with you Stephen. It feels like National is masking the issue by stating the % of units. We have a very big Troop (~100 Scouts). We always export from TroopMaster and import the CSV into Internet Advancement. Not having the ability to import our CSV into Scoutbook Lite will have a major impact on getting our Advancements into the National database.

  24. I am a paid unit scoutbook admin. Scoutbook has come a long way and we have patiently waited as features have been added, I still miss several of the Troopmaster capabilities that scoutbook has neglected (e.g. granular inputting of service hours, camping nights and ability to add service hours for our adult leaders)

    Although I am a scoutbook user, I can’t believe that BSA will shut down their competitors and hurt the units that rely on them.

  25. Scoutbook Lite just lets you enter advancments, Scoutbook full features include references to the details of advancment requirements. It’s like an electronic version of the handbooks integrated into it. The lite version is not going to give you all the features to make it pretty much effortless to enter and track advancments for individual scouts.

  26. So less than 10% of units use CSV data… I don’t have any idea how many units exist, but if there are 5000 units, that’s would means its something less than 500 troops/packs etc. that seems like a reasonable number of units to keep happy. I’m pretty sure they’d be excited to have 500 extra, new packs/troop come into existence in a year.

  27. I have a tough time believing only 10% use the upload feature. I think this is more of a grab for more use of Scoutbook. If the BSA want more troops to use scoutbook, they should make it the best system, not by making it more difficult to use their competition. Our troop will continue to use TroopMaster and resist BSA heavy handed tactics.

  28. The BSA has been making some wonderful strides (well maybe steps vs. strides) to improve their data systems and provide the volunteers more control/visibility into the management of their units.
    With that being said, they still have a long, long way to go. To date, other 3rd party programs are much gone so much further.

    My Troop uses TroopWebHost and we have no issues with it. My Pack uses Scoutbook and that works fine on the Pack level. For the Pack Scoutbook is just fine, it provides us with the advancement tracking and a means to put items on a calendar (albeit not the best calendar option out there), and a way to send targeted emails to dens, the pack, or leaders.

    I actually prefer the visuals for the Scoutbook Advancement tracking vs. TroopWebHost’s. I actually think the Boys Scouts would be more inclined to use Scoutbook because they can visually see where they are at and what they need to get done.

    Yes, no program is going to please every single person. But as a Troop Committee Chair, I need so much more than just a pretty graphic interface. I need a Website front where people can find my Troop and possibly join, I need a robust accounting system where I can track all monetary transactions providing the integrity to create an annual budget, I need to be able to track sign-ups for outings and manage shifts for Troop fundraising, I need participation tracking to the detail that when Scouts complete things like (Service Hours) it will update the advancement requirements, I need the capability to manage the troop’s physical assets such as Camping Equipment and Merit Badge Pamphlets, I need an actual user’s guide to the system vs relying on searching web posts or discussion threads.

    Yes a Scoutbook subscription is much cheaper than what we pay TroopWebHost each year. But we willingly pay the TroopWebHost subscription because of the ability it provides us in managing the Troop.

    I’m sure some people won’t agree with the following opinion and I am sure there are some programmers will give a reason why it is just not doable:

    Scoutbook’s selling point is that is just a dollar per Scout (a little more if you don’t have 40 Scouts).

    I think it would have been a better move if when National decided to hike up membership fees that they would have added one more dollar (making it $34) to register and giving every Scouting Unit access to Scoutbook. This way: National wouldn’t have to manage to different versions of the same program (Scoutbook vs. Scoutbook Lite). Units wouldn’t need to make two separate payments (Re-Charter and Scoutbook Subscription), one check at re-charter time could cover it all. Industrious 3rd Party programmers actually link users into Scoutbook’s Advancement Tracking.

    Then this would get Scoutbook out to more units while National could be working on the other aspects of programming that Scoutbook lacks. Once done this could potentially get units asking the question: “Why am I a paying for a 3rd Party Program, when Scoutbook is already included in my registration costs?”

    Scoutbook just isn’t to the point where it can start replacing other 3rd party software packages. But there is a path that could potentially get it there. In the meantime the 3rd Party programmers would need to step up their game if they want to stay in business. Breading competition – Scouts/Scouters reaping the benefits of that completion.

  29. Oh God, I am so glad I no longer handle advancement for the troop. Even our first experience with Troopmaster was not good, as it came with a virus on the program. Went back to paper, and it served us well for many years. Obviously can’t do this now, but with so many changes it makes it harder and harder to get a parent to step up to take on the task of tracking advancement. Right now, the scoutmaster is the only one that does the input. Sometimes I think the motto at National is “if it’s working ok,….break it”.

  30. As a District Advancement Chair, it has always been my ‘pain-in-the-side’ not being able to view my units advancements; such as who is advancing and who is not, so I can ask the units why ‘Johnny’ hasn’t advanced for over a year.(example). Are we district advancement chairs considered third party?

    • Frank,
      District tools are in MyScouting, and currently in ScoutNet. There is a current ScoutNet District Advancement Report you can ask your council to run for you.

      • I thought part of the reason for the development of the my.Scouting website was to provide the volunteer the information so that we can be empowered and not dependent on having to rely on the professionals to run all the needed reports. Best demonstrated by the Training Module. I would think that afterm this rollout of Scoutbook Lite we volunteers should start getting the access that Frank is wanting. As far as getting the Council to run the report for you, my Council sends the ScoutNet report monthly to all Advancement Chairs. To bad National hasn’t even bothered to update the report so that they recognize that “Scout” is now a Rank. If there is an updated report, my Council is unaware of it.

  31. This just posted on the Commissioner Service (Boy Scouts of America) page:
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/bsa.commissioners/permalink/10157084434137576/

    This posting is intended to AUTHORITATIVELY answer some questions that have been raised as a consequence of this Scoutbook Lite (SBLite) post. The information posted here is based on my personal conversation with BSA’s Chief Technology Officer, Vijay Challa on January 9.

    An overarching concern of Vijay’s is that there are TOO MANY computer tools for our volunteers to be familiar with and use to keep track of all the different information they need to access and report as a part of their BSA position. With Scoutbook (Lite) it is BSA’s intention to unify and bring under one interface as many unit leader tasks as possible with the unit leader only needing a single access. When released SBLite will replace the legacy Internet Advancement tool, but the following additional functionality is planned to added to SBLite as soon as possible: Service Hour Reporting, Internet Rechartering (for unit leaders) and camping logs plus possibly more. The main difference between SB and SBLite is that the full version of SB provides unit leaders greater flexibility. For example (as mentioned in some other comments) BSA is presently working a Scout and Family application (the official name of this application is planned for announcement as early as next week) where a Scout can record their advancement achievements, and then the Unit Leader can go into the full version of SB and approve them. Additionally, SB already includes calendaring, reminder, messaging and unit/Scout financial (still in Beta) features.

    There have been concerns expressed that BSA will abandon the ability of units to use 3rd party Unit Management Software (UMS), such as Troopmaster, to bulk upload advancement information. Vijay has assured me that SBLite WILL allow bulk upload of data via a defined CSV format. Since there are so many 3rd party options available, BSA’s expectation is that the 3rd party UMS exports will comply with BSA’s prescribed format, and if they do not, then it would fall to the unit leaders to make it so. I.e., the unit leaders will have to make sure the data fields for importation via SBLite are in the right order, etc.) So, for those who want to hang on to their existing UMS, they will still be able to upload CSV advancement data, it just will be uploaded to SBLite instead of Internet Advancement.

  32. Would someone using Scoutbook please answer some questions?
    Will SB publish merit badge and rank award card for Court of Honors?
    Will SB maintain attendance records for events and years of service and service hours?
    Will SB have archive files for non current scouts and leaders?
    Will SB maintain scouts by patrol?
    Will SB publish list of scouts using controlling features such as rank or age or patrol?
    Will SB provide a printed list of advancements still required by our Council after they are entered on the internet?
    Will SB track OA ranks and service?
    Will SB keep track of half of the info stored on the Troopmaster program?
    Thank you for any questions you are able to answer.
    YIS, 30 year advancement person

  33. Where can volunteers find information on how Scoutbook Lite will work. I have been asked by my CC if I have “read up yet” on the program, but I have no idea where to find information. Is this going to be another example national making a decision and leaving to to the volunteers to figure out how to implement?

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