NSA launches open source training platform for apps, development

The new tool, called SkillTree, was developed for training NSA employees on complex applications as well as software development, but it is available for adaptation by the public.

The famously secretive National Security Agency has a new employe-training platform, and it’s completely open source.

Called SkillTree, the platform is designed to teach the best ways to use complex applications and implement best practices in software development. It’s a tool and not a specific curriculum. The NSA developed it in-house but posted it to the Microsoft-owned public code repository GitHub with ways for the broader development community to collaborate on its code and fix bugs.

SkillTree, which is a tool and not a specific curriculum, follows a “gamification strategy,” the NSA says, by allowing users to track their ranked progress and earn achievements as they reach new levels of success. SkillTree was designed under the NSA’s Developer Experience (DevX) program and follows what the agency is calling a “skills-as-a-service” model.

“The DevX team will be integrating SkillTree into various DevOps tools and workflows to enable new and experienced developers go grow their skills,” an NSA official told FedScoop. “Given [that] it’s open and flexible in nature, it can and will be used for other types of tools geared towards non-developers as well.”


The idea is that the platform can conform to the needs of managers looking to improve the skills of their employees on any number of applications that can link to the dashboard through its application programing interface (API).

The agency hopes SkillTree will help modernize employees’ DevOps practices, in particular, according to a news release about the platform. It is one of many initiatives underway to bring the agency in up to date on development best practices.

“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, in the news release.

The spy agency also has been expanding its efforts to promote cybersecurity education and has been doing more public outreach in general over the past year.

Latest Podcasts