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CHIPS Articles: NSA Announces SkillTree, an Innovative Approach to Implementing Application Training

NSA Announces SkillTree, an Innovative Approach to Implementing Application Training
By NSA News - October 15, 2020
FORT MEADE, Md. — The National Security Agency (NSA) is excited to announce the release of SkillTree, an internally-developed open source solution for gamifying user training.

SkillTree provides a systematic and interactive way to promote user proficiency of an existing application. The service is based on industry best practices using gamification to provide awareness of tool features, promote best practices, and document user progression and expertise.

By reducing an application’s training curve, SkillTree reduces traditional comprehensive training costs while providing a more enjoyable experience for the user.

The SkillTree platform provides and combines three major components to enable a more engaging user experience:

1. Dashboard and services—simplified management through centralized web-based user interface and data API service

2. Display libraries—pluggable user skill and ranking visualization and customization across tools

3. Skill event reporting libraries—easy integration into an application by reporting skill events to the centralized service

NSA initially developed the SkillTree platform to improve how users across the Agency interacted with in-house complex applications, and the agency is excited for the opportunity to share its success with partners in the open source community. Residing under NSA’s newly formed Developer Experience (DevX) program, SkillTree is one of several initiatives underway to streamline and modernize software development and DevOps best practices at the agency.

“The DevX team genuinely cares about igniting positive change for NSA developers and consistently embraces innovative and secure ways to do so. Software Development is an art; the DevX EcoSystem team understands that your canvas and paint brushes are important," said Terrence Pugh, DevX EcoSystem Lead.

To share more about DevX and NSA’s efforts in the open source arena, DevX founder, Jacob DePriest, will be presenting at the upcoming 2020 All Things Open Conference on October 19th-20th. Jacob is one of several employees scheduled to represent NSA at the ATO Conference to formally launch SkillTree, discuss NSA’s unclassified development and telework initiatives, and interact with attendees at NSA’s virtual conference booth.

Interested in checking it out? SkillTree is currently available as open source software (OSS) at https://code.nsa.gov/! Browsers that currently support SkillTree are Firefox, Chrome, Edge, Safari, and Opera, and the product is released under an Apache 2 License. OSS contains code that is publically shared, and any developer can use and/or contribute to the code base.

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