FIRST Robotics Competition Blog

Documentation: Reboot

Dec 01, 2016 Written by Kate Pilotte, FIRST Robotics Competition Kit of Parts Manager, on behalf of a cross-functional team.


There’s a lot of stuff for an FRC team to comb through each season. There’s been a sense that, in the interest of being thorough, sometimes we’re redundant. This can be especially true as documentation evolves over years.

A group of us from Marketing, Operations, and FRC got together over the past few months to review how the Admin and Game Manuals have evolved, the content they cover, where that content may already be published, and filter content between evergreen (can be published/updated throughout the calendar year) and season specific (most appropriately posted on Kickoff Day because it’s deliberately a secret or doesn’t add any value before Kickoff).

As a result, the Admin Manual’s been… dissolved. Its content was either already (or will be) on the FIRST site, integrated in to the single 2017 Game and Season Manual, or deemed just not that important and deleted. Evergreen content not already on the site is being added throughout the fall. In case you’re curious, there’s a more specific dispositioning list here.

The 2017 Game and Season Manual will be longer than last year’s Game Manual, but I promise it’s shorter than last year’s Game and Admin manual combined – and we hope a more concise resource.

Minor updates and edits to evergreen content will be done as routine website maintenance, and posting of new “important” content will be announced via the FRC social media channels (Twitter, Facebook) or described more deeply in this blog.

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I personally found the admin manual helpful for guidance on how to help lead a team. I hope the majority of the content could be kept in a similar format as last year. Also, can you please look into a better format for the motor rules. What is a "select automotive" motor? Could this be simplified into a format like no more than a 12V motor, no bigger than X diameter by X tall (except for kit motors), and less than X RPM unloaded? (then we could have less motor updates also, think a new motor was added every week)

Thanks for your comments. We want to make sure that this evolution doesn’t make teams’ experiences harder or more frustrating in the long run, but with any change, there will be habits disrupted and we’ll probably make some less than stellar decisions, and we welcome feedback on that stuff. Your comment on motors has been shared with the right people for consideration. 

I have some concern that dissolving this manual will make it more difficult to find information on the FIRST website. In addition, will there be notification of updates to this information? What can you offer to quell my and my team's fears that this will make the system less organized overall? 

Thanks for sharing your concern. As noted in another of my responses (sorry to repeat, but I think it’s relevant here too), we want to make sure that this evolution doesn’t make teams’ experiences harder or more frustrating in the long run, but with any change, there will be habits disrupted and we’ll probably make some less than stellar decisions, and we welcome feedback on that stuff. Notification on changes is really content dependent. If we were to, say, adjust the recommended team leadership roles, we probably wouldn’t announce that change. On the other hand, if an award submission due date changed, we’d make sure we got that word out (likely via email blast, blog, or Team Update).

Why does the '2017 Game and Season Manual' link take you to' PPAP Pen Pineapple Apple Pen' video??? I don't understand... Am I missing something?


The link takes you to a Youtube video about a pineapple pen.

Im so glad you said that, I thought my web browser was infected with some type of redirect malware.  Why is it going to the pen apple youtube site?

Is this video relevant to the game this year?  I have tried to save this comment multiple times, so apologies if it shows repeatedly.

I'm with you...Hello? FIRST? Are you there?

I assume it's because the 2017 game has not been released yet. That or someone had the wrong link copied haha.

And now it's a broken link, since PPAP was apparently copyrighted material...

I would hope that as FIRST continues to evolve, the issues they takcle are more reactive than proactive and poll the user base which gets effected. We have a large community of opinions, but if no one is complaining on a particular topic, why invest the effort. I personally believe there are much bigger issues people are complaining about on chiefdelphi that FIRST has been silent on. Personally the new website is extremely hard to navigate compared to the old one. So simply stating some items in the admin manual will be or already are on the website, is half the solution. I know many who feel the website is non intuitive, If people have trouble finding the information, a new issue is created, in an already chaotic time. Please spend more time asking us what we think before change is implemented.

I also feel the time would be better spent on getting the web site "stable", predicable and therefore, useful. Have your web developers ever thought about (heard of)  Human Factors testing? Switching from one section of the site to another should not require logging in again. There could be better indications if a topic is already marked as a personal favorite. These are just two of MANY annoyances I have currently.

Removing awards information from a manual and only having information on the website is a big hit for teams.  The new website is very difficult to find information.  I thought navigation of the new site would get better after we got familiar with it but that is NOT the case.  Now you have eliminated a tool many teams use through out the year (Admin Manual) and buried it in the website.  I tried to use the links to view what is on the website for the awards section and received the following:


We are sorry, but the page you have requested cannot be found or has moved.


New to FIRST? Learn about our programs using the drop downs at the top of the page.

Looking for season-specific information? Search within the Resource Library using the filters on the left."

This website was not even be tested before being launched to the teams.  Then I try another link and it takes me a You Tube video that is not even tied to FIRST. Also, your website information in a print format is also awful.  We used to print sections of the Administration manual for team reference, highlight critical information so we ensure we are covering all bases and test team members on the sections of the administration manual. I guess that we will have to transform it ourselves. There will be no way of knowing when a new revision is updated. 

 I cannot image being a rookie team and trying to understand FIRST through just your website.  Please do a survey to see how teams are using your site and information before making such changes.  You are making this so frustrating for teams and mentors. Are you trying to drive us away? If so it is starting to work. 

I can't find any way to get from this page back to a list of blog entries, and there's no "next/previous" buttons to navigate to other blog entries.  I got here from an external site.  I'd like to be able to see what other important information has been recently covered in the blog.  Please at least make the "FRC Blog" in the header a link back to the blog index!

As a coach of a restart, which is pretty much the same as a rookie team, last year, I carried my Admin and Game Manual with me all the time!  It was so helpful!  Improving is great! Eliminating is Bad!

As Angelo said, the link for the manual does not take you to the manual.

no manual just youtubE ppap???

With the information in manuals it was reasonable to assume that a team was required to know it if it was in a manual. Does this now mean that a team is required to know everything on the website?

Is this video somehow linked to the game?

A week ago Angelo pointed out that there was a bad link above for the 2017 Game and Season Manual.  The link hasn't been fixed, and he hasn't had a response.  I hope that errors and discrepancies identified in the evergreen website content will be corrected more promptly than this.   

As Angelo commented above the '2017 Game and Season Manual' link takes you to a ' PPAP Pen Pineapple Apple Pen' video. Either fix the link or disable it until you can.

Looks pretty but very hard to navigate. Very, very hard to navigate. Cannot see its advantage. Suggest you survey users...and then take action.

Is there an estimated length for the new, consolidated manual?  Would love to arrange printing in advance of Kickoff.


I’m sorry, we won’t disclose any information about the 2017 game manual.

As a mentor, I really appreciated having all the admin manual info in one place, so that I could go over information with the team safety captain and business lead prior to kickoff. With the info now un-consolidated/not available until kickoff, it's going to be harder to hold a thorough meeting to go over safety rules and awards information. The website may be useful when someone has a specific question, but I liked being able to review "here's all the things you should know as a team lead"

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