Archive for June, 2009

Evaluating Basecamp

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

At MovingLabs we really believe in creating all our tools, but as we need many, most are not really finished. Fine for us, but not so much if we need to collaborate with others.  We do have our own project tools like  TeamSpinner and FlexLists, but not everyone likes them in their current state.    Therefore we decided to sign up for the 30 day evaluation of Basecamp. Something that receives so much positive attention must be spectacular , right?

What I expected,  from what I’ve read and heard, was a clean and simple interface where those parts that are there are quick, effective and perfect.    The clean and simple part is definitely true,  there is no visual waste and I can quicly find stuff.  However speed, effectiveness and perfection are the things that I can’t find.

The first thing I noticed is that it’s actually quite slow,  maybe because it’s servers are in the US, but in terms of speed it feels like the  Java Enterprise intranet application that I worked on years ago.

Second thing is that it still has many rough edges that I would have expected to be fixed by now:

  • No error or resubmit, just forever ‘busy’  when the connection drops while doing an ajax submit ( Gmail set the standards high on this stuff)
  • The main page title is not clickable
  • On the message entry form there is not a hint that I can actually use the wiki like syntax
  • I can’t click on users anywhere to get some details about them, like which projects I share, what their e-mail is,  etc.

Finally I just miss a very important thing:  I want to set my todo’s  to  ‘busy’ .   I’m just way too used to doing that.

Besides these points it does work fairly well, I do like the way it takes into account that you want to collaborate with multiple parties.  However,  it’s not nearly good enough to cure the  ‘not invented here’ feeling.  Luckily the party we tried to collaborate with agrees with us, so seems like we need to fix TeamSpinner after all…