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Basecamp Personal (37signals.com)
128 points by wlll on Jan 22, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 126 comments

I STRONGLY recommend Asana:


It's like using a smart piece of paper that just gets out of your way and let's you create, assign, toggle, set dates, etc really intuitively.

I'm a freelancer - and for my usage I typically have a Workspace called Freelance Projects. In that workspace I have many projects, each for each freelance gig I land. I then invite my client (YOU CAN INVITE UP TO 30 PEOPLE PER PROJECT FOR FREE HOLY BALLS) and collaborate intuitively from there.

He/she can upload photoshop files, images, text files, edit desriptions and I can comment on them and we go back and forth. Better than email.

I used to procrastinate a lot. It was my achille's heel; but since Asana I enjoy working because there's something deeply psychological in ticking things off and seeing them grayed out.

If you haven't checked it out.

There's also Trello but I kind of dislike it when there are more than 5 items in a list. It gets unwiedly.

+1 for Asana for actually including a text transcript with screenshots as an alternative to the introduction video. I wish more companies were doing that.

Related: Teambox offers tasks, conversations, notes and files in a similar experience to Asana or Trello, just a broader feature-set.


Strong points vs others are All Tasks view to filter by users or tags (#p1, #pull-request, etc).

Free for 5 users, and integrated with Dropbox, GDocs, etc.

You should mention that you work for teambox...

Asana is fantastic software. I've been using it for several months now, and the interface is really, really smooth. I like that it feels like an evolving todo list, whereas most apps focus on archival and bug tracking.

Related: evolving to-do list is what we're working on with TaskMessenger.com, we've just launched.

100% Agree. Asana is awesome.

Based on just this thread, I'm signing up for a trial account.

All those keyboard short cuts & everything is cool. We have tried so many of them but it is hard to find one which every member of your team like something.

It really is impressive.

I've got to try it now, so much positive feedback on it.

As a freelancer, I currently use both, as a user on accounts owned by different clients, and I prefer BaseCamp. I find BaseCamp's messages very useful and Asana's emails when you assign ToDos (also supported by BaseCamp) don't even come close. I also find Asana's interface visually distracting compared to BaseCamp.

There is a feedback link at the bottom of the page that you might consider telling them about your issues. help them make it better for all of us.

Sorry but if they cared about my workflow these issues would already be fixed.

With what, their powers of telekinesis?

I'm sure your workflows aren't identical to mine. Why would it be to theirs?

The problem with depending on free apps is they are not dependable. Especially, when they are services on the web. They'll have to make money at some point or else go broke. If we want to keep a record of our work for a long term we should not hesitate to pay a little bit to have a reliable service. A company that makes money from selling a product is the best promise you can get. The other reliable option is Open source.

Free and a one time fee are about the same IMO. Eventually both will get annoying to support.

The 30 person limit "per project" got me excited until I looked at pricing and that just seems like the "team size" of "workspace members".

I was thinking to try using Asana to collect feedback from beta testers (of real world items). Across several projects, this would total more than 30, but the 30 limit per type of thing being tested would be fine.

Is this going to work for me or any other suggestions? I haven't dug in to try using Asana much yet.

We don't limit team members. If you sign up before the end of our Beta you'll also be able to create unlimited teams. Our Team chat feature would be useful for collecting and responding to team feedback across multiple projects.


Feel free to mail me directly if you've any questions: alan@taskmessenger.com @AlanMeaney on twitter

I tried sending an invite to another email address to join a team and the Register Page URL in the email was simply "http://login/register

Chat is nice, but there are lots of ways to do that and I need something where I can make sure people are submitting feedback, otherwise I don't want to give them the discounted goods in exchange for the feedback.

I think I realized what will work.. some sort of e-learning software. I would basically just pass/fail each item tested on whether an "exam" was submitted, but I do have some quality requirements for feedback. Having used Moodle before a bit, I think you can give more or less points for multiple choice answers. I wouldn't care about the aggregate of these but maybe could use that too.

Thanks for the catch on the register link. That's been fixed and will be released shortly.

Best of luck with finding something suitable.

+1 for asana. Started using it few weeks ago, and so far so good! Love that you can reply to emails from asana and replies will be recorded in comments for particular task.

But how do you upload files there? Is this available only for premium users?

Uploading files is 100% free. You just drop em in the task description pane. Couldn't be simpler.

Asana seems cool. Is there a notes/message feature like Basecamp? I like to collaborate on documents and this is a necessary feature.

I think we're seeing the unfolding of 37signals. I know that's the cliche thing to say here on HN, so note I say this bearing that overarching fact in mind.

I think Basecamp Next was the beginning. I can't put it into words, but users stopped praising 37signals after Basecamp Next. Changes were probably necessary, but it just doesn't garner the same respect as the original Basecamp. I feel like they deliberately removed private messages to get me on board with their CRM and it doesn't really seem like the average person knows what to expect when they add a user to a project (Can they see everything? Are they able to create projects?). Sure, I know, but the average person is reasonably unsettled by the current way this is handled - a problem that didn't exist in original Basecamp.

This Basecamp Personal feels like they are reaching, not innovating.

I'd love to hear what other people think, or why I am wrong and jumping to conclusions.

EDIT: Great comments. I am pretty dependant on Basecamp, so I don't relish the idea of 37signal's demise, but I have to be honest when I say I think they're concentrating on different ideals. I like most of Basecamp Next, but the things I don't like are glaring and 37signals is generally good at addressing glaring faults.

This follows something 37s has preached forever - turn your side effects into new businesses. They wrote blog posts, then turned them into a book. They had a lot of business customers, so they built a CRM, etc.

Here, they took a business product, got rid of free plans, and now can sell to a new kind of customer with their same codebase.

Also, a one-time charge for a SaaS app? That's something I haven't seen but could be applicable in a lot of places.

Didn't http://pinboard.in/ do the same? I mean, the one time fee - and I remember it worked well for them.

"Also, a one-time charge for a SaaS app? That's something I haven't seen but could be applicable in a lot of places."

I'm curious how you estimate the cost of access + 1GB storage, forever. What do the terms and conditions say about them turning off the spigot at some point in the future?

It's likely they're just using spare infrastructure used to host Basecamp which is essentially already bought and paid for. As long as Basecamp stays alive it's likely this version will too.

I will say, my employer uses Basecamp for several projects and I have a corporate Basecamp account, and so if I can get Basecamp for $25 one-time for myself and my own personal use, I might be tempted.

This is a tempting offer. If I qualify.

I never knew the original Basecamp, but I'm using the new one recently — for the first time — and I'd praise it to anyone who would listen. Brilliant tool.

Using basecamp for various project and very enjoying it compared to most other solutions.

I've used both; I much prefer the new basecamp, it's a vast improvement.

I disagree that users stopped praising 37signals. It wouldn't necessarily take data to convince me otherwise, but I find your arguments unconvincing.

It would be a shame to see people sink their money in this without realizing there are way better services out there for this type of thing. For example, Evernote Premium is just $5.00 per month or $45.00 per year and you get way better features, syncing across platforms, storage space, sharing, etc. That [Evernote example] costs less than 2 Basecamp Personal projects.

I really think they should look into lowering the pricing to make this product more competitive. 37signals seems to be coming out with some crumby products lately. First Breeze, and now this. Sighhh.

I'm not sure if the two products are comparable though, I love Evernote for unstructured content but to me Basecamp has always been more structured.

In particular for keep track of todo lists (along with audit trails of who's done what) and allowing email notification and response of discussions around todo's and documents.

I know you can do some of this to an extent in Evernote (e.g. todo lists) but I'd be interested to hear more about how you use Evernote such that it can be a Basecamp replacement?

$25/forever is already lower than $5/month or $45/year

If a project lasts forever than paying or doing anything for that matter, even if it was free, is useless.

Obviously you could change the name of your single, focused project - forever. But your point made me laugh. Twas a good one.

You forget "The joys of having a Forever Project"! Currently on the HN front page: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5096009

Sometimes the journey is more valuable than the destination.

Evernote has a free version also that has even more functionality than Basecamp Personal. I'm not saying Evernote is the perfect alternative, that was just an example of many.

I guess I'm just getting to the point that there is lots of alternatives out there that give much more value for a better price. I feel like 37signals is trying to sell products just because of their name and are no longer put real value in their products. Or at least putting enough value in to justify the price tag associated with their newest products.

I don't believe that 37 is attempting to go for the mass market. At least not yet. This is more for current Basecamp users that are used to an interface and quality they know and expect.

I love Evernote but I don't use it for to-do's or projects. There are plenty of other alternatives that work well in sharing personal projects as well.

The one alternative you cite, Evernote, is something very different. Project information will mostly be unstructured. It will hold data but it won't send emails about TODOs with helpful subject lines. If better task tracking increases productivity, and it does IME, it will pay its $25 easily.

They used to have a free tier of the old basecamp - I'm fortunate to still have one


I want Highrise Personal. There are so many CRMs for every different size of business, but I want a contact list where I can fill in information about people as I go (ie. start with "big guy with red hair at Mark's Dec. 17 party, discussed quantum tunnelling" and then add in his name and contact info if/when I learn it) and add arbitrary notes about everyone. I know I could just use a regular CRM but those always get hung up on leads/accounts/etc. I know I could use something like Evernote (or Workflowy, which I love and sort of use for this currently) but that's not really the right tool for the job.

Every time I mention this someone tells me it already exists; every time the thing they point me to is full of useless social integrations and other shit. Does anyone know of a "personal CRM" that doesn't suck?


I feel you. I ended up going with Salesforce's $5/mo contact manager edition and just stripping all the tabs and modules on the contact pages so it's super-simplified.

Now all my personal contacts are managed in Salesforce which is super robust and powerful. I love sorting them by "Last Activity" to see who I haven't spoken with in a while and working my way through the list that way.

(I was able to negotiate a discounted rate of $2/mo when I talked to one of their account execs too. I bet that's still an option...)

Can you add pictures as part of the description of the person? Not a profile picture of the person but photos that could be part of what you want to remember from the interaction with that person.

Interesting, no unftly not that I know of. Maybe if you went with one of the more advanced packages. The Contact Manager edition is pretty limited.

You can pull profile photos of theirs from Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook though. But obviously those images aren't yours to choose.

Try my app, "Contacts Journal" (http://itunes.com/apps/contactsjournal). It's iOS only, so no web interface, but it might be exactly what you need. Users love it (check out all the great reviews).

Asana suggests that you use their product as a "lightweight CRM", see video under "How to use it" at http://asana.com/product

I've been pretty happy with Contactually (http://www.contactually.com/tour) as a personal CRM for a while.

Basically it sucks in your contacts from Gmail, LinkedIn, Facebook etc, and schedules follow-ups for you.

Obviously, they monitor all your communications across these networks, but for me the benefit of nudging and analytics outweighs my concerns about privacy.

Streak: http://www.streak.com/

CRM inside Gmail

Take a look at www.minggler.com, a service myself and two others started last year. We aim to automate who and when to reach out to someone. Haven't quite perfected the formula. Would love your feedback.

I use 37s Highrise for this. It's pretty straightforward, you can add tasks and reminders, and you can bcc emails to it and it will add the email to the appropriate contact.

Have you tried using a spreadsheet for this? If not, why not? And if yes, then what problems did you face?

I did. The biggest problem for me was the lack of email reminders.

Thanks Jim. So would you use a spreadsheet app if it had email reminders?

Would you drive a car if it had a mini-fridge?

I like how you started a user interview on the spot, but that question doesn't seem to have any purpose.

Heh, if I told you my biggest problem with cars was the lack of a mini-fridge, and you offered me one with a mini-fridge, yes I'd like one thanks.

A car with a mini-fridge would probably do quite well for anyone who takes roadtrips or frequently goes grocery shopping.

Maybe what you actually want is a mobile home, a larger fridge at home, limit travel to the winter, a shorter trip - or not needing a car at all, take the train instead.

Probably not. It was the biggest issue but definitely not the only major limitation I experienced with it.

Thanks. What other limitations did you face? And what do you use now instead?

Maybe you can just try Google contacts

For "home improvement projects, hobby projects, volunteer projects, school projects, etc."

with my best Lionel Richard : Trello? Is it me you're looking for?

On a semi-related note, I always thought this was a clever use of GitHub:


my first thought was "Oh god, the comments will be full of half funny spam" ... looks like he's actually has some good discussion on them though https://github.com/frabcus/house/issues/66

Man, this is really nice. Gonna have to use an alias account though if you are tracking shadier projects like scheduling dates with multiple people, daytrading at work etc.

Since trying out the new Basecamp, I was saddened that I could no longer use it for my side projects any more because the new UI felt really intuitive to use, but it wasn't worth $20/mo for things I'm making $0 on. I felt a bit alienated when they dropped the free plan.

It's interesting to see the one-time-fee model they're trying out here and with Breeze, and I wonder how it'll work out for them. Personally, this is very happy news. I'm completely willing to shell out $25 just once to have a great, uncluttered, simple tool for managing my pet projects again. Way to go!

Trello is absolutely incredible (and they have a really receptive development team). I've used them for development, marketing, HR, etc and have yet to be disappointed. Mobile version is also kickass.

Unfortunately the mobile version is very poor on Android and does not at all scale to larger screen sizes. I'm sure they are working on this but so far Trello is not very fun to use on the platform.

We are -- new version of Trello for Android is coming out very soon.

Trello takes a bit of getting used to (it helps to know the various phases of a project beforehand), but yeah, once you get into it, it's sheer joy.

25$ for a project?

I don't even know if it's better than Asana what is free for personal use.

A keen demonstration of price sensitivity.

So it's 25$ per project? I'm not sure people will pay that for school projects or a couple of one-off projects. For some more expensive projects, sure I can see it (home improvement, dissertation)

The pricepoint seems a bit high especially since there's free stuff that is pretty good (I personally use Trello)

Either way it's probably better to start with a higher pricepoint. Good luck :)

I don't think you'd start one of these for each school project. You'd have one project, "school".

Maybe I just think about things backwards, but why do none of these packages support task dependencies (not subtasks). It seems that the logical precursor to "what is important" is "what is available". Instead we have daily scrums and bi-weekly planning sessions and people doing all sorts of query-fu just to figure this out. I'd like a system where I can:

  a) Dump my tasks
  b) Have it give me a good guess at the most important task, at which point I can:
  - Do it
  - Say it's not important
  - Say it's blocked by another task (and which task that is)
  - Punt it to someone else.
  - Snooze it until date X.
  c) Repeat.
I could always go in an do normal task/project management stuff but most of the time I just want to filter the right 8 hours of tasks out of the 800 hours of candidates.

We've only launched Task Messenger but I like the sound of auto ranking tasks, something to go on my 'to-do' list. You could always give us a go. We're building a to-do list for teams.

What criteria would you use for ranking tasks by importance?

Probably a few factors:

  1. How important I say it is.
  2. How important the tasks it is blocking are.
  3. How close to the due date it is.

Thanks. What do you currently use?

A rotating mishmash of text files, spreadsheets, google docs, scrap paper and a notebook. For professional engagements I've lately used pivotal tracker, github issues, basecamp, and jira.

This seems like a great price point for a freelancer doing small projects. You could just charge the $25 straight to the client. However it looks like they don't have a unified dashboard for the personal edition so it might be a pain if you had a few of these running concurrently.

The project I've been working on, http://kona.com, has had the idea of personal/work projects baked in from the beginning, and it's free. Worth checking out.

I wish that there was calendar access; if I can't access to do items via an iPhone app or through google calendar, then due dates are a bit useless. I tried running my classes and homework through base camp, but now use asana because it has a calendar feed I can see on my phone, there is an iPhone app, and it auto-promotes tasks based on due date. The latter-most feature is important because I just put in a semester's worth of reading and it trickles assignments onto my daily to-do list as the deadlines approach.

"37signals launches lifetime plan for Basecamp"

Is what this headline should read. Lifetime plans are a notoriously bad and often disingenuous idea.

This is essentially a free plan they are trying to charge $25 for. Buyer beware.

What if they remove a feature you depend on 3 years from now? Do you get your money back? What if Basecamp Next++ due in 2015 is terrible and you have to stop using it, can you still use what you are paying for now? What if 37 signals discontinues Basecamp 15 years from now?

Surely if you've been using a piece of software for 15 years that cost you $25 you would feel you've got your money's worth, no?

Hang on there - $0.13 a month is a little steep.

Interesting that so many people are discussing the price. If you've followed 37signals' blog posts about business, it's pretty clear that they prefer to have paying users, rather than offer support (i.e. waste money) to people only using free plans.

Indeed, the high profile of their brand is what (now) allows them to do this with a new product: their users will be familiar with the other products 37signals offers, and buy based on that familiarity/constancy.

After seeing so many apps / websites on HN use Proxima Nova and rounded avatars immediately after the new Basecamp was released, its interesting to see this anti 37signals wave on HN.

I think the HN crowd has lost its objectivity in evaluating 37signals and its become something like an Apple.

One-time forever pricing is a very innovative concept for a web based SAAS application. I bet we will start seeing more of this soon.

Isn't one time pricing, a road lot of business have gone to get some cash upfront & went back on their word?

We need to remember, in SaaS it is the "service" that you pay for not just the "software".

It is okay to be skeptical when someone says, I will support you forever when there is an ongoing cost somewhere.

There's nothing innovative about a bad business model.

One-time forever pricing for a service which costs you ongoing money to run is suicide unless you're subsidizing it somehow.

You have to have a subscription Basecamp account to buy the $25 one-off thing. So you're essentially paying a fee to hide projects that you don't want in your company Basecamp.

This is essentially a free tier with a one off filter.

I may be weird, but I'd much rather use trello + properly sorted email than basecamp.

I'm interested to see what direction they head with these one-time-cost plans. If you like BaseCamp and would derive any value from it, $25 is a really good deal -- I don't see "free" as being all that much more attractive.

I was going to say the same thing.

It's very interesting to follow their new tendency to release one-time-fee softwares for consumers. Hope they talk about public reception on their blog.

Great, but unfortunately not for me. I'd prefer something that can be usable off-line. Especially in case of personal projects, I don't want to always have Internet available to be able to work on stuff. There's no real reason for this data to leave my PC.

It's sad that all new great products stop as web-apps and never go further. The best thing I found so far is org-mode + Dropbox combo.

>It's sad that all new great products stop as web-apps and never go further.

There are other apps for personal use or collaboration such as Wunderlist, Omnifocus (Mac, not PC) and Any.Do (only available natively for iPhone and Android.)

Once off pricing is interesting. We're allowing users of our new application to create two teams for free. Deciding on pricing is really tough. Should we follow Asana/Trello and go free for everything or come up with a paid plan?

If any fellow hn'ers get a chance please feel free to stop by and check it out.

www.taskmessenger.com :: We make teamwork visible :: @taskmessenger

Charging a one-off fee, per project, is a great idea.

And if I was you, I would much rather make enough money to pay the bills, than play the freemium lottery.

And Taskmessenger is all about adding value to a project - something that you should be proud to charge for.

Thanks for the feedback. We're really focused on facilitating teamwork. It's normally something intangible and we're trying to make it visible which will hopefully in turn make it contagious.

I will take a look into how a one-off fee model would work.

Please don't listen to the idiots telling you to charge a one-off fee for SaaS.

You're not 37signals and unless you have a couple of million burning a hole in your pocket, you should be charging reasonable subscription fees.

This looks like a rebirth of Backpack to me, which is great because I sorely miss Backpack.

I'm the founder of TeamDoList.com:


The killer feature, in my (biased?) opinion is the fact that TeamDoList.com doesn't require logins at all and you just start creating tasks from get-go. Zero setup.

This is the second product they've launched in the last few months that does not have a recurring subscription, but a one-time fee. I'm not sure how this will scale for them in the end.

$25 is too much for something you can get for free with asana or trello. I guess you pay for the brand more than anything else, like the apple tax.

free can't stay free forever without someway to collect money

Asana has a premium membership, and many corporate clients who pay well.

Podio.com is great too! You just need to configure it properly and it can become quite powerful! and best of all it's even free!

Funny thing is I was just setting this up for personal use this morning. I really like it. The mobile app needs some work on Android, but the web app is great.

What are people's experiences here in managing projects or even to-do lists using spreadsheets?

Why the release of one time price products instead of recurring revenue?

Have they fired Ryan Singer?

Basecamp: the app any web developer should be able to create themselves in a week or two...

I'm hoping this is a perhaps poorly-considered callback to one of HN's most famous comments, which described StackExchange as "simple software... that can be thrown together in a weekend."


If this comment is actually serious, please try executing on it and report back on how it goes.

I was one of the developers of a product in the same space, consider myself a pretty good programmer, and can assure you you wouldn't build basecamp (our any competing product) in a week or two. There's so much that goes into a product like this, that reading a comment such as yours can even be considered offensive. It is, at the very least, quite naive.

Ah, yes, this always comes up from folks who never tried to create it themselves...

How long before this comment shows up on @shit_hn_says?

I'll check back in a couple of weeks to see where you're at...

Let's hack it! make one open source.

The guy who created activeCollab first released it as open source → http://web.archive.org/web/20060810011430/http://www.activec...

Then, he realized it could make money and put a $499 price tag on it → https://www.activecollab.com/pricing.html

I'm open to code the frontend. I just need one guy or two who can do the backend side.

I've never used Basecamp, but... Teambox? Last version seems SaaS only, but previous ones are OSS:

http://teambox.com/ https://github.com/teambox/teambox

Totally agree

LOL at being the lowest rated comment in this thread. I spent the last year (just a tad longer than two weeks) working on Basecamp along with a team of talented people.


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