The TEKSide Blog

Jumping Ship on Basecamp 3

I love Basecamp. I've used it in some shape or form for almost 7 years. I was super excited for Basecamp 3. I wish I could say "It's not you, it's me" but that would be a lie.

Basecamp 3 is not ready

Does it have bugs? No, none that I've seen. Does it have downtime? No, it's been rock solid. What v3 is missing are some key features found in v2. Ones I didn't realize were missing until I went to use them. I've tried to live without them, or work around them best I can, but I'm done.

I started at a new company in January and choosing our tools is my responsibility. Slack and Google Apps were first on the list. Next came something to handle tracking long form conversations and company/project todos. I love basecamp. A new version just came out. Easy decision. One that I now regret.

What I miss from Basecamp 2:

  1. Email In
  2. An API (specifically Zapier integration)
  3. Sorting posts by most recently commented

(The third one pushed me over the edge)

Email-in

There are a lot of people in this world that don't like tools like Basecamp. "Why can't I just use email", "the search sucks", "It's just another thing I have to check" can be heard with regularity. Part of my job involved parading around the office championing Basecamp (or forcing people to use it). Email-in made part of these complaints bearable. It made it "just as easy" as email for starting, or replying to, threads. Basecamp 3 was the promise land that addressed a lot of this with better search and better notifications.

Email in isn’t on the roadmap nor is it listed on the “should we switch" page.

This functionality is partially there, hidden away in the "forward from client" section. When I found out it was missing I almost left, but I figured I could cobble something together with the API and Zapier...

API

I have a few main use cases for an API. The primary one being a hacked together Email-in. The second is replicating Basecamp tasks in my todo app. (I happen to use Omnifocus.)

Lacking an API, or a roadmap for one, I grumbled. But, I figured I could wait and make my tasks by hand. After all, that's me wanting to work the way I like to. Manually entering emails into Basecamp, littering messages with "as communicated by," seemed a small price to pay.

The missing API is listed on the should we switch page, after a long discussion on Github

The good news on the API front is that there has been GREAT progress. I got excited. Soon everything would be as it should

Post Sorting

This hurdle just dawned on me this morning while I was scrolling down looking for something. Basecamp 3 only sorts posts by their created date. Which meant that our most frequently updated post, with dozens of comments, is all the way at the bottom, with a bunch of fluff between me and it. It seemed like there had to be a way to change the sort, but I confirmed with Basecamp this is not available.

Use search! Ok, but now an app is asking me to take on cognitive load of something it should handle

You are using it wrong! Don't even go there, I spent years at my last job working with some of the best UX and Creative Designers I've ever seen. If "the customer just isn't using it right" was used as an argument, we hadn't solved the problem

Use notifications! I do, they go away

One could argue that I'm just annoyed that "things have changed and I just want things to go back to the way they were in 2". I thought about that. Is this just me? Am I just whining? Email in and an API are missing, not changed.

Using "Email In" isn't the way the product was meant to be used! Tough, it was there for years.

Even if I could suck it up and trudge through lacking email and API, It is beyond me why you would want older content above newer content

So, I'm leaving. We are moving too fast for this to slow us down. I can't wait for "someday/maybe" (Basecamp does not release timelines; I respect that but it doesn't help me here)

Tim, if you love v2 so much, just use it. I might! But:

  • I'm not sure how long v2 will be around
  • When it does get decommissioned, will my above issues still exist?
  • Will a v2 to v3 migratory exist? (I would hope so)

The barrier to switching will be much higher if/when v2 dies than it is now. Should I switch to v2? Probably. Should I take some time and look at something like http://asana.com? Yep, I have. Now if I could just get over how they format the emails...