I'm a bit behind the curve here - but now that I'm caught up, I'm concerned. When I saw the title of this article, I immediately logged into my Basecamp. Hmm, it looked the same. So I went and found their upgrade instructions. Then I learned that it's not a straight 1:1 upgrade, it's a different product. And they've dropped support for some quite important features, like, time-tracking.
My work runs on Basecamp. We chose it for two reasons, first because it did (nearly) everything we needed it to do, second, because it was being developed by a company we loved.
Now, it's completely integrated into our days to day production. We depend on it. If I walked in to work today and Basecamp was down, I might as well turn around and head home. We've let 37Signals premiere product become essential to us.
As of today, we're using their formerly premiere product. And if we wanted to upgrade to their premiere product, we'd lose completely essential feature.
Yes, they can say that Basecamp Classic will be the same great product it's always been, but it won't. Part of that greatness was innovation, and I don't think anyone believes that 37Signals will continue to innovate with a product that has "Classic" in its name.
The solution isn't hard. 37Signals just needs to be clear.
Will critical features like Time Tracking be in a future version of Basecamp, or will that requirement make us, forever, second class users? Because, I'd rather be a 1st class user at one of Basecamp's competitors than a 2nd class user at the service I've been using for the past 4 years.
We're launching with a great set of features we could do in a reasonable amount of time. If we had tried to reimplement every single Basecamp Classic feature in Basecamp Next before we launched, it would have taken a very long time.
Basecamp Classic originally launched without even file uploads!
We'll be busy bees making Basecamp Next fill in gaps all over the place in the coming months. Looking into how we can solve people's time tracking needs with a great workflow in Basecamp Next is high on that list!
We weren't happy with the time tracking integration in Classic. It was usable, but it wasn't great. We want to take our time to either come up with a better built-in solution or an integration with another tool or something else.
This is a big part of why we're keeping Basecamp Classic around for a very long time. Basecamp Next was not going to launch with all the features that Classic already has. So it's OK that it's not a perfect fit for all existing customers on Day 1.
The iPhone didn't have copy'n'paste for a while, either. There's just so much you can do for launch, if you want to ship.
The iPhone anecdote is such an important one. Probably the most important lesson I learned working at Apple was: people don't remember that a feature was missing once you implement it, but they remember broken features long after you've fixed them.
There is a disclaimer, "Some stuff on the Goodbye list is completely gone from Next, while other things are just executed differently enough that they don’t resemble the way things worked in Classic... There’s some stuff on Goodbye that we ended up keeping."
That said, it's probably worth keeping this "goodbye list" in mind when DHH says carefully hedged things like how the team is "looking into how we can solve people's time tracking needs with a great workflow in Basecamp Next." There's a good chance that will NOT be time tracking as you know it.
Not that there's anything wrong with that, but I don't think you should be kept waiting around for a feature that may be axed.
Firstly, great products. I use Basecamp everyday as well, but we are also dependant on "Time", although I side with the philosophical argument that the "Time" feature is essentially useless. I would want to get rid of it, too. Here's why: project managers like to think it's a way of predicting the next project timeframe. It's a giant fallacy. In no way, shape or form, does Time keeping give you any sense of what to expect, so for that reason - I applaud removing it. However, Mr. Project Manager isn't happy. And when he's not happy, I can't use your new Basecamp. Once that sets in as a consciousness and we feel 'Classic', someone is going to start hunting for an alternative. Based on this thread, I'd wager someone is currently tying all of your features + Time together and imposing the "You don't have to be 'Classic' any more!" marketing ploy.
> If we had tried to reimplement every single Basecamp Classic feature in Basecamp Next before we launched, it would have taken a very long time.
As a software developer, I understand this. But I also understand that giving the user the power to migrate projects one-by-one, managing 2 codebases and offering support for 2 products is also a very large undertaking. I feel like adding Time and Private messages would have taken less time and perhaps only pissed people off momentarily when you flipped the switch, like when Facebook and YouTube users protest and then eventually shut up.
By over-engineering this process, I feel like you've opened yourselves up to competitors because now you're that company that is trying to satisfy everyone.
[T]he "Time" feature is essentially useless…[P]roject managers like to think it's a way of predicting the next project timeframe.
There's more to time management than just prediction. When I was working for a company doing client work, we used Basecamp to keep track of how long we spent on each project so we could bill appropriately.
I agree 100%. Without time tracking Basecamp Next is useless to us too. Migrating Classic to Next and losing our tracked time is no option.
We mainly use To-Do lists and time tracking. Time tracking as it only is available in the 49$/month price plan was the single reason we upgraded.
I'm a bit disappointed now as i was looking forward to Basecamp Next.
> it's completely integrated into our days to day production. We depend on it
37signals, and DHH, constantly warn anybody that will listen, that they should not use free products because that "makes them the product" and leaves them at the mercy of an acquisition, or failure, etc.
But your comment shows that one can face the same risks with every Saas... Boxed software wasn't all bad! ;-) and open source software that you host yourself isn't bad either!
Excerpt: "...A lot of software developers are seduced by the old "80/20" rule. It seems to make a lot of sense: 80% of the people use 20% of the features. So you convince yourself that you only need to implement 20% of the features, and you can still sell 80% as many copies.
Unfortunately, it's never the same 20%. Everybody uses a different set of features. In the last 10 years I have probably heard of dozens of companies who, determined not to learn from each other, tried to release "lite" word processors that only implement 20% of the features. This story is as old as the PC. Most of the time, what happens is that they give their program to a journalist to review, and the journalist reviews it by writing their review using the new word processor, and then the journalist tries to find the "word count" feature which they need because most journalists have precise word count requirements, and it's not there, because it's in the "80% that nobody uses," and the journalist ends up writing a story that attempts to claim simultaneously that lite programs are good, bloat is bad, and I can't use this damn thing 'cause it won't count my words."
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> Basecamp Classic and the new Basecamp don't offer the same features, so some data in Classic won't make it into the new Basecamp.
So maybe I'll stay. But wait...
> Will you continue to improve Classic? The majority of our design and development efforts moving forward will be focused on the all new Basecamp, but we'll continue to support Classic as long as customers continue using it. We expect that to be for many many years.
Maybe. Maybe not. The web moves very quickly you know. New browsers, standards, security risks etc. I can think of a million and one reasons Classic will get EOL'd sooner rather than later.
This is certainly faithful to their backwards compatibility intolerance. The new product couldn't be bound by the "burden" of the old. Now I the customer am left with a very distasteful choice to make.
For a company that goes on about transparency and clear speaking etc., the answer to the second question you've quoted is appalling. It doesn't answer the question at all. It should be:
Will you continue to improve Classic? No. We will fix any bugs or other problems that stop our customers using Basecamp Classic but we will not be developing new features. Our focus now is on improving Basecamp Next so that Classic customers are happy to transition.
What's appalling about it? It's not necessarily true that we won't add new features. This is day one right now. We don't know how things will pan out. It's disingenuous to say we won't do something that we might do.
As stated, the majority of our resources will go towards the new Basecamp. That's honest and as clear we can be without misleading anyone.
I just felt that the answer dodged the question. Your response to me answers the question i.e. you don't know if you will improve Classic. By saying the majority of design and development efforts will be focused on Next and then saying that you'll continue to support Classic implies by omission that no further improvements will be made.
Edit: To be clear, I'm not criticising the position of you not knowing - it's a fair position given this is launch day. I'm criticising the fact that the answer to the question didn't say we don't know.
Sorry, but this is exactly what continue supporting in context of software means for everyone. This is a standard term, there's nothing disingenuous. You don't expect new features in your old Red Hat Enterprise Linux installation without upgrading to a new version, do you? But you can expect bug fixes as long as it's supported.
I notice the new version is running on basecamp.com. The old version is at basecamphq.com and 37signals always made a point about the domain not mattering as much as the product name. I imagine there's a follow-up to that saying that if your product becomes successful there's nothing wrong with going and grabbing the pure domain (thinking Dropbox, Instagram and others. Or basically the opposite of Color.)
"Project name is bigger than domains" is a part of lie part of true: Product and it's name important but if you can't get the domain just be arrogant and say to people it doesn't matter. But because you know the importance of the domain name , when you have money and chance get the domain and rule the world.
We purchased the domain from the previous owner a few months ago. We wanted to use it to launch the new Basecamp since the Classic version used basecamphq.com. We wanted to keep the URLs separate so this seemed as good a time as any to make it happen.
"Your Basecamp Classic URL (which looks like yoursubdomain.basecamphq.com) stays the same. New Basecamp accounts are hosted on the basecamp.com domain. New Basecamp accounts don't have subdomains, so all accounts are at basecamp.com."
It looks like they're gradually simplifying. They originally launched with a range of domains you could choose from: projectpath.com, clientsection.com, grouphub.com, etc. with a subdomain. Then it went to subdomains on basecamphq.com, and now just basecamp.com with no subdomains.
That's exactly what happened. It was actually confusing for people since different people on the same project were referring to Basecamp with different names. That's one of the reasons we migrated everyone to basecamphq.com and now, basecamp.com on the new accounts.
That was the first thing that caught my eye too. I would tend to agree with the assessment that a perfect domain name is negligible compared to having a successful product offering. You can take that too far, but for the most part a domain name doesn't matter all that much. It's a stupid investment for a struggling entrepreneur to spend thousands of dollars for a new domain. I think another significant reason they decided to go ahead and purchase the domain now, is that it was part of a larger effort to rebrand the product.
(I'm not saying this as a negative thing, it's going to be really interesting to see the response to this, I know there was a blog post a while ago saying there hardly anyone on the free account upgraded) I'm using a free basecamp account but we only have one project and $20/$25 is just a little much for that a micro plan at $10 would be awesome :) )
As others have posted here about other businesses, prices under around $20/month start to rapidly become unprofitable. One common reason cited is that a price of e.g. $10/mo doesn't allow any budget for support time, etc. Lower price points work for consumer applications with potentially massive scale. But businesses unfortunately need to pay for results.
Some assumptions, to be sure, but you say "we only have one project", so that implies multiple people, so if you are employed by this work you must be pulling in several thousand dollars per month. $20/mo for a product you need to (or at least want to) use to accomplish this work and earn money is an absolute pittance.
Four friends and I were using free basecamp to track a personal free-time project we are working to turn into something more. That's five people on free Basecamp, not making any money (in fact spending out of pocket), but it's at times been an invaluable resource. Just, for our scale, not $20+ a year invaluable.
I'm fine with Basecamp Next being "not for me" right now because of that, but that doesn't mean I'm not a little disappointed.
It depends on what value you put on basecamp, most of what we do is on git and we pay for a large github account.. I don't want to be a free customer but I disagree that $20 is nothing in the long term when most of the features offered to me I'll never use
I agree. $20/mo is definitely going to be too expensive for a ton of potential customers. I guess it's a luxury that 37Signals can not only afford, but will maximize their profit and I would assume they have some good historical data to back up the decision.
I do think that there is a magic $5-9/mo range that individuals will pay without thinking too much. Above that amount, they start equating a subscription with a trip to the movies or a (cheap) night out and you've lost them.
I totally disagree, $20/mo for a service like Basecamp is not expensive. I pay $20-50/mo per month for a whole host of services (hosting, backup storage, payment processing, etc.) and don't really think twice about them since they're business expenses. FYI: I'm an individual who has a full-time job but does projects/apps at night with a separate LLC.
I agree--$20/mo is not expensive but like @thehodge says... it all adds up. I think that in this space tho, you have a huge market of people who are "pre-business" who just couldn't justify 5-10 $20 services a month when they are pre-profit or only making a few hundred a month off of their products. Basecamp could appeal to some of these folks with a sub $10 offering.
I think 37signals won't do that for the same reason Apple won't make a $399 laptop, they don't want to be in that business. That's not the business they're in, and knowing what business you're in and not in is extremely important. I'm sure there are a dozen Basecamp competitors with $10/mo plans that would probably fit your needs.
Agreed. Someone else here already pointed out "hey, time tracking in basecamp is limited - we use harvest and integrate". OK, so now you've got 2 $20/month services (or whatever harvest costs). Then another $10-$20/month for another service. And another. And another. And that's usually $10-$20/month per user. A small company could easily be paying $500/month for a few services for a handful of users. Are they getting $500 or more of value from it? Possibly, but smaller orgs tend to be more gunshy about spending money, however small, without free tiers. Perhaps those are the companies that you don't really want as customers anyway?
I totally disagree. Certainly hosting costs that much, backup usual not and payment processing never. When compared to services with a free tier like ZenDesk, Yammer, Twilio, Stripe, DropBox, BiBucket and Trello, I don't think your comment holds water at all.
For a consumer product, $5-9/month is probably a good price point depending on the product. To a business, $20 per month is a great starting price. Businesses have a different set of demands than a consumer. The value of Basecamp has definitely proven itself to be worthy of that rate. There are "free" services out there that do similar things, but to a business they probably feel more secure paying for a service, knowing that they'll be around for the foreseeable future.
Am I the only one here who thinks they've actually done a good job with this transition? I've been a long-time (paying) user of Basecamp and the entire 37 Signals suite, and I think Basecamp needed to be revamped long ago.
I actually like that they've created a brand new experience/product, and have given everyone ample time (90 days) to evaluate whether or not they like it. I also thought the FAQ was clear, and the transition process was well explained.
As for the loss of time tracking that a few people have complained about... If you're really that serious about time tracking, you shouldn't be using the extremely limited time tracking capabilities of Basecamp Classic anyway. We use Harvest and integrate it with our Basecamp account, and it's a perfect setup for us. I always thought time tracking seemed like a "nice to have" feature of Classic.
It feels kind of weak to me. 37sigs used to be very vocal and strong about what they believed. "Here's our way, and you'll like it or not". This seems like they are really couching their bets... If no one likes the new one, they won't have lost their cash cow, if they do like the new one, they've made an easier transition for others.
I'm afraid what actually will happen is 45-50% will be on the new Basecamp, and 50% on the old, and it will be confusing to clients who sometimes use the old, sometimes use the new, etc... Will be interesting to see how it plays out, as with everything 37sigs does, it's innovative and if it works I wouldn't be surprised to see more people taking a similar approach.
Interesting point about clients being confused with two different versions... Although it's a remote possibility, I could see it being confusing for someone who works with one vendor who swears by Classic and another who has migrated up to Next.
I also agree that this could be seen as inconsistent with their stance on making opinionated software. However, I put myself in their shoes and see only a couple of options - you either revamp Basecamp with a new design/user experience and risk a huge backlash from your customer base, or you build a brand new product and give people the choice. I'd go with the latter option.
Minor update/edit to this note about the transition if anyone from 37 Signals is listening...
I just noticed that the Launchpad bar at the top of each page lists both Basecamp and Basecamp Classic when you're in the new Basecamp, but if you switch over to Classic you lose the quick link to the new Basecamp.
It would be nice during the trial to have the ability to switch back and forth easily from the Launchpad page/bar. This is a minor thing, but it would help me easily show my team the differences between Classic and Next because I know it will take a bit of "selling" them on it before we can fully make the transition.
Both links are also labeled "Basecamp Projects." I could see that causing some confusion with other people on my account.
I'm surprised to see people complain about the copy. Is "The majority of our design and development efforts moving forward will be focused on the all new Basecamp, but we'll continue to support Classic" really that hard to understand, let alone disingenuous? Is it, despite it being mentioned a zillion times in the FAQ, so tough to understand that they've cut some features and that therefore the upgrade won't make sense for everyone?
Jason, I think the confusion is that your example Project is so nicely fleshed out, people use it to grok the entire range functionality within a project. Because there is no sample Event, people will miss the small "Add Event" link hidden at the top of the page.
That could be true. We made the call to get this sample project in at the last minute (literally a day or two before launch) so we couldn't get everything we wanted in there. We will likely include events in a future version of the sample project.
So, no API yet. The neat thing about client-side apps is that they force you to craft a great API from the get-go, because you'll be using it extensively in your own application. DHH was talking earlier  about how client-side MVC isn't a great developer experience and consequently why they avoided it for Basecamp Next, and I sympathize with that decision, but I wonder how great of a developer experience it is to have to develop a server-side app with various AJAX-related endpoints and then having to go back and develop a full-fledged API... instead of doing just the latter.
I didn't use basecamp before and I'm just testing a little bit. Seems to be quite fast.
What I kinda don't like: If you click on e.g. a discussion, a modal-window-like layer pops up where the discussion is displayed. Now how can I go back? First I was quite unsure how to do this without clicking on the browser's-back button.
Then I figured out that you can click out of the layer and the layer disappears. I think there's a need for a "close"-Button..
Just finished reading Rework. in that book they usually tell that they rarely implement new features because most of them are redundant for most of the users and only a few would benefit out of this. Personally,I am not a Basecamp user and I really would like to learn what's new.