Backpack Launches: A new breed of personal (and business) information manager 03 May 2005

70 comments Latest by GO77

Backpack is live. Head on over and check it out. We’ve started assembling some reviews and mentions (that’s a public Backpack page).

Thanks again for everyone’s patience, support, and feedback during the development process. We know the hype was heavy. We hope we’ve delivered. We have a lot more planned — including a nice API soon (Dashboard widget anyone?).

We’ve also bumped up all the page limits on every plan (including the free plan). We heard the tester’s feedback. Thanks for that. We hope you enjoy the raised limits.

So, have at it! Oh, and we also redesigned 37signals.com. David has a nice piece on it.

70 comments so far (Jump to latest)

Switch 03 May 05

It looks nice and all, but I’m really dissapointed that there is no ta-da list intergration whatsoever.

It would be could if I could merge that data in Backpack, and have one centralized place for everything. I don’t feel like recreating all my lists again and stuff.

Will such a feature be available soon (or did I miss it)?

JF 03 May 05

It looks nice and all, but I’m really dissapointed that there is no ta-da list intergration whatsoever.

There will be soon.

huphtur 03 May 05

Props on Backpack, looks “buttery”.
Will Backpack and Basecamp be able to interact with each other as well?

Mark 03 May 05

Congrats -

Looks really cool…wait, let me clarify that, “seems” really cool. Don’t really know what it looks like because the “huge demand” on day 1 is preventing my stylesheet from loading promptly.

Seriously though, what I really appreciated was the sign-in form taking me to the free version straight away instead of forcing me to choose which version I wanted. A very good example of tryvertising.

kingbenny 03 May 05

I like the 37s redesign - classy.

Will Hayworth 03 May 05

One concern came to mind. As a Basecamp and Ta-Da list customer, I hope your energies aren’t being drawn away from those two. Don’t get me wrong, I love Backpack (I may switch to a pay account soon), but I’m also used to using Basecamp to manage my personal life. I hope you won’t let Backpack suck future development time/improvements out of your other software.

Other than that worry, though, I’m ecstatic about Backpack. I can’t wait to start using it for projects; actually, I already have!

beto 03 May 05

Congrats on the Backpack launch. I have to add my voice, though, to the list of those that waited to some sort of Ta-Da list integration so we didn’t have to register twice (and keep our existing lists). I have been using Ta-Da lists extensively since a few weeks ago and is fast becoming for me the kind of product you “don’t get” at first, yet over time you start wondering how did you manage yourself without it.

I look forward to delve further into the application and draw better conclusions. And the new 37s design definitely reflects the new focus of your company in a blunt, simple, yet friendly way. A prime example of “less is more”. Congrats again.

Will Hayworth 03 May 05

Feature request: can you create a function to archive or retire a page that’s no longer being used?

For example, I’m devoting one of my pages to managing A/V equipment upgrades at home. Once I complete the upgrades, I won’t need the page any more, but I’d still like to keep the content of that page in some sort of retrievable form. Kind of like Basecamp’s archived projects vs. active projects.

I don’t know if this is against the intent of your wiki-like design, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who would appreciate it.

Jake Smith 03 May 05

OK, it seems pretty cool, although I expected a little more from the design. I wasn’t too impresed with your homepage redesign either :( Either way, you guys are great at the apps, I just think your designs could use a bit more…

Mike D. 03 May 05

I love that the Enornicom elements keep making their way into screenshots and demos. I still love that site… I find myself sending it to someone new every month.

Congrats on the launch!

Jordan Roher 03 May 05

Good stuff. Looks like exactly what we need, and nothing we don’t (to paraphrase that SUV commercial). I found a tiny bug in my fooling around: on the Settings page, the orange color doesn’t have its ID filled in on the radio button. Thus, clicking on the orange image doesn’t select that button (as all the others do).

Still, you guys did an amazing job. I’m considering a full account very shortly.

JF 03 May 05

I hope your energies aren’t being drawn away from those two.

Ahh, don’t worry. We’re about to get started on Basecamp “2.0” (we’re anti version numbers, but it’s a major revision).

Agustin 03 May 05

How do you send an SMS with PHP? (I assume you use PHP.)

Adam Michela 03 May 05

Agustin, all cell providers have SMS e-mail addresses. 37 is just sending an e-mail to you.

For instance, if you have Sprint. I can SMS you via email by sending a message to 5556667777@messaging.sprintpcs.com.

If you have cingular, 5556667777@cingularme.com. And so on.

Agustin 03 May 05

@Adam Michela: thanks!

Michael Schubert 03 May 05

Agustin, coming from *the* Rails company, Backpack is most certainly NOT php, I would expect all or most of it to be done with Ruby on Rails.

Javier Cabrera 03 May 05

Oh yeah baby, keep with the good work! these guys of 37signals are blowing my head out! i can’t still believe it!

I post this morning on my blog about backpack! i had tried it out yesterday with my premiun free account and i just go crazy. How, in the name of god, do you people come with this? i loved tadalists and now i love backpack; please don’t make me choose! ;) ;)

Keep doing what you are doing, please!

David Heinemeier Hansson 03 May 05

Backpack is indeed all Ruby on Rails. We use a bit of PHP here and there for the marketing sections (and the forum too, actually), but for web applications we left PHP behind when we started on Basecamp.

Marc Hedlund 03 May 05

Congrats, you guys. I’ve been amazed how much Backpack has become part of my work and personal life over the testing period. It’s like the movie you keep thinking about for weeks after seeing it. :) Great job, and on to the next!

amber 03 May 05

Just wanted to echo the congratulations. Looks like another great tool. Now if you East Coasters and Mid-Westerners would move aside and let us Left Coasters give it a try……

;-)

Tim Uruski 03 May 05

Great looking product, I can’t wait to integrate it into my workflow. A question about the email uploads/item additions/etc. Is there protection against spam programs uploading all sorts of crap to your backpack?

Does your account/page lock down if it detects a lot of emails being sent to a particular page in a short period of time?

David 03 May 05

Where’s the full-text search feature?

Agustin 03 May 05

@Michael Schubert & David Heinemeier Hansson: thanks, this looks cool. I’ll have to investigate further.

Brent 03 May 05

Jason, Didn’t you talk about SMSing things to your Reminders to ADD a reminder? I can’t find that anywhere.

David Wertheimer 03 May 05

Congratulations. Looks great.

How come I had to create unique logins for Basecamp, Ta-da lists, and Backpack? Shouldn’t they be in some sort of 37network with a single userid?

Ward Andrews 03 May 05

The homepage and pages are great, just enough functionality to let me make it what I want to be. Having a hard time with the reminders though. 1) They seem burried, I know they are a tab away(!) but I get so into the pages and the ability to jump between them and add to each that I keep forgetting about the reminders. Screenshots indicate where a reminder will appear in the right column when imminent, but I feel like there needs to be a small “play area” for the reminders on the right column to keep that aspect of my life in play. 2) is there a way to pull iCal or Bascamp calendar data in? I keep wanting to add more reminders and more to dos but have to keep going *somewhere else* to reference my schedule before I can add it to my backpack. Maybe this moves away from the simple, but it’s really my only hang up. Congratualtions on a fabulous product.

Pedro Belo 03 May 05

I’m still trying but it looks and feels great. Congratulations for you all, excelent job.

Will Hayworth 03 May 05

Ahh, don’t worry. We’re about to get started on Basecamp “2.0” (we’re anti version numbers, but it’s a major revision).

Wonderful! I feel newly reassured!

Alex King 03 May 05

I am so happy that Backpack is out - I’m still playing around and figuring what this baby can do…

However, I’ve also got to say the design is just so-so. Actually, I really like most of it, but the tabs at the top really get to me…

Jaime Macias 03 May 05

I was a lil dissapointed in the storage limit for the files etc. Will there be the ability to use an offsite server for larger files, etc. (ie. Basecamp) as a photographer and media hound in general I would eat trough the allowed space in a flash. Oh and thanks (it looks awesome).

Jon Kiddy 03 May 05

I understand the concept of sending emails from a form using a variety of web languages. However, I’m perplexed as how a website can be updated via email. What’s the catch? What am I missing? (I long to use this technique in my own apps.)

BTW: Great job! I’m already a happy Backpack user. I’m impressed!

JF 03 May 05

Jon, see Adding content to a page via email at the Backpack Blog.

Michele 03 May 05

To early to say if I love it, but I guess I’ll do pretty soon (I didn’t even got Basecamp at first, but now I’m hooked!).
Nice design: supersimple and superusable.

Only doubt: maybe Jaime Macias is right when he says storage limit are a bit low…
Other than that, great!

JF 03 May 05

maybe Jaime Macias is right when he says storage limit are a bit low…

We’re open to adjusting these as time goes on and we see how people use the system. If you’re just going to store photos, I’d recommend Flickr though.

Justin P 03 May 05

Backpack was just BoingBoinged (on par with /.ed), I’m anticipating a slowdown to say the least :)

Justin P 03 May 05

Sorry, wrong link. Here she is.

Jeff Wheeler 03 May 05

I really love the redesigned homepage, and Basecamp looks very useful. However, I find it way to ugly to touch. I love all your other products, but what’s up with the header’s colors? Sorry, but I can’t stand this one.

Perhaps this is just sour grapes for me having no use for it now.

Justin P. 03 May 05

I am sorry to post again, but I just discovered the “PAGES: Adding content to a page via email” feature and my god! That is going to be amazingly useful.

Is this a feature of Basecamp as well? The possibilities of this are just amazing. A client send you an email, just forward to their client page in Backpack…awesome!

Thank you 37 Signals, you guys rock!

RS 03 May 05

what’s up with the header’s colors?

You can choose different header colors by clicking the “Settings” link in the upper right.

Jen 03 May 05

I disagree with you

mp 03 May 05

Is there a way to set different e-mail reminders destinations? As soon as I go home I don’t want the reminders sending to my work account, I want them sent to my home address, and vise versa.

Vaughn 03 May 05

That would be a good idea!

JF 03 May 05

Is there a way to set different e-mail reminders destinations? As soon as I go home I don’t want the reminders sending to my work account, I want them sent to my home address, and vise versa.

Go to your Settings screen and change the email address for reminders.

Joseph 03 May 05

Hey guys, could you tell me the name of the font used by 37signals in theirs products identity? (BasecampHQ Logo, Backpack Logo etc.)

Stuart Willis 03 May 05

Dashboard widget… yes! I was trying to hack one together last night, but haing a 37Signals one would be -awesome-.

Looking forward to how you integrate Backpack and Basecamp (and put some Backpack features in Basecamp).

Peter Cooper 03 May 05

Sorry to jump in, but I believe the font is called Interstate. It’s the same font as the Interstate signs use. Feel free to correct me anyone..

Scorched 03 May 05

I’m impressed with the functionality of the website, and have really enjoyed Tada. I’m still confused over 37signals lack of usabilty and slack approach to good html. Poor alt tag text, missing img sizes, missing onkeypress events, the horrible links to #, script tags with missing type attributes, repeated id’s, submit buttons outside of form tags… the 37signals applications all seem to need some attention and editing under the hood.

Matt Kaufman 03 May 05

The interface sure had me surprised, but it is very easy to navigate — and I love the almost-wiki style features Backpack has.

Joseph,

I am going to go out on a limb here and say that the font _could be_ Gill Sans, or Gill Sans Condensed ….. I could very easily be wrong, and I’m just saying this off the top of my head, but I it does look similar to that font. You could always try using What The Font?!! :)

SU 03 May 05

I’m still confused over 37signals lack of usabilty and slack approach to good html.

Perhaps you meant accessibility?

Derek K. 04 May 05

Great job on your Wiki-esque Backpack site.

It’s disappointing that you would limit the # of pages for free users. 5 page limit makes the site virtually unusable.

Kelby 04 May 05

Just a comment about the reminders to Mobiles.
You have 2 UK networks listed (t-mobile & virgin effectively the same one)
What do I select if I am on say o2 or orange, and also you have misspelt vodafone..

apart from that looks interesting. will have to have a play but I can see it being useful :)

Bryan W 04 May 05

i don’t write enough to blog, but when i want to put a page together it’s often not worth the effort. backpack is just what i wanted for that. almost… i mean. it’s the best thing out there that i’ve seen. but you can always find something to bitch about (:

how about lists from tadalists. so i can have multiple lists per page. the ability to reorder page elements. not just lists. i might want a list below a note… or a note below a few pictures. and like Jaime said. offsite storage like basecamp’s would be great. and the ability to make links public too… but not for all pages… actually that can get messy. how about a public page index page? so if i want to share a few pages, but have a public “home page” that links them all together i don’t have to use up a page for it. recurring reminders…

why not password protect the rss and ical urls? have a .htaccess generated in the directory the files live in that password protect the directory then you can access it like http://user:password@domain.ext/location/feed.rss

if i attach a text or html file it always downloads the file instead of displaying it in the browser.. is that from something you guys are doing? stop it (:

your pretty interfaces make me feel bad about my web apps ):

matt Carey 04 May 05

It’s disappointing that you would limit the # of pages for free users. 5 page limit makes the site virtually unusable.

so you want full functionality for free?? you have to pay for things in this world sometimes :)

Brad 04 May 05

It’s a great tool, very well designed and excecuted, as everyone expected. And I really like that you call it “Backpack” instead of “BackPack,” which would have been so 1990s.

I’ve been thinking about the niche that this product will fill. It’s probably going to be most useful for mobile workers, and for Mac and Linux users who don’t use Outlook/Exchange (or Entourage on the Mac). People who use Outlook or Entourage to manage their to-do lists, reminders, and calendar will probably have few reasons to use Backpack, especially since they can synch Outlook with their cellphone or PDA and get reminders that way when they’re on the road.

However, Backpack does offer two important features that Outlook/Entourage can’t do (or at least don’t do easily): 1) like Basecamp, Backpack gives you one dedicated place for each project so you don’t just have one big aggregated to-do list or calendar like you do with Outlook, and 2) you can add stuff to your pages by e-mail or cellphone. The second feature would be what makes this a killer ap for mobile people who don’t always have a laptop handy.

Marco 04 May 05

Nice job,
perhaps I would have allowed at least 50 pages in the Basic $5/month plan.

Adam Michela 04 May 05

@Kelby: If Backpack does not have your mobile provider listed, simply list it yourself in the e-mail field. It’s the same difference.

mp 04 May 05

Is there a way to set different e-mail reminders destinations? As soon as I go home I don’t want the reminders sending to my work account, I want them sent to my home address, and vise versa.


Go to your Settings screen and change the email address for reminders.

Yes, that I know, but I was wondering if it would be possible to have multiple e-mail addresses. You could the set reminders 1-3 to e-mail #1 and reminders 4-10 to email #2 and so on. Maybe for the paid accounts??

thanks.

Andrew 04 May 05

I’m with mp. For a team using Backpack — or one person using it to manage a team — the ability to send Reminder #1 to person A and Reminder #2 to person B is an important function.

JF 04 May 05

I’m with mp. For a team using Backpack — or one person using it to manage a team — the ability to send Reminder #1 to person A and Reminder #2 to person B is an important function.

That’s not what Backpack is about. Backpack isn’t a product to manage teams of people and send reminders to multiple email addresses or multiple people or different addresses at different times. It’s a simple product for each account holder to use for themselves.

There are a hundred places to make it more complex, but we’re not going in that direction.

Dan Boland 04 May 05

I’m with mp. For a team using Backpack — or one person using it to manage a team — the ability to send Reminder #1 to person A and Reminder #2 to person B is an important function.

I’m not under the impression that Backpack was set up with a team in mind. I was thinking that would be filed under Basecamp.

Tim Uruski 04 May 05

mp: Why not just use web based email like Gmail or set your email client to access your work and home mail?

Andrew 04 May 05

Backpack isn’t a product to manage teams of people and send reminders to multiple email addresses or multiple people or different addresses at different times. It’s a simple product for each account holder to use for themselves.

Fine, but that’s exactly what I was looking for with Backpack — or, conversely, what breaks Basecamp for me. It’s a function that would be very useful for team management, but it’s not offered in Basecamp.

If the idea is for Basecamp to be the perfect product for project/team management, it seems like common sense to offer the ability to reach out of the web to remind people of upcoming “milestones” or “to-do list” items via email. Making people whose mind is elsewhere check a website to see if they’ve forgotten something is counter-productive. It’s not about complexity, it’s about functionality. This seems like a simple extension of the product’s core function.

mp 04 May 05

That’s not what Backpack is about. Backpack isn’t a product to manage teams of people and send reminders to multiple email addresses or multiple people or different addresses at different times. It’s a simple product for each account holder to use for themselves. There are a hundred places to make it more complex, but we’re not going in that direction.

ok. I was just hoping and wondering. I didn’t so much want a team organisation, just one additional: a home, and a work.

mp: Why not just use web based email like Gmail or set your email client to access your work and home mail?

Because of the way my company makes us do email, it would be difficult. Plus webmail doesn’t have the instant notification gratification… and I can’t install many extra applications on the company machine to talk to G-mail.

Hmm… I could set it to go to a special home email that copies and redirects the message… hmmm.

Anyhow, thank Jason and team for the app. It’s growing on me quite quickly. This addition would have been the icing for me.

mp 04 May 05

Sorry to post again…

JF said: That’s not what Backpack is about. Backpack isn’t a product to manage teams of people and send reminders to multiple email addresses or multiple people or different addresses at different times. It’s a simple product for each account holder to use for themselves.

Which is fair enough, but the marketing copy on the site says: Want to collaborate with someone? With 10 people? No problem. Create a page and share it with your friends or co-workers. Get things done together on your own private shared web page. You can also publish pages for anyone in the world to see. (emphasis mine)

That statement indicates that there is a sharing/workgroup element to Backpack.

Back to lurking.

JF 04 May 05

Yup, you can share pages, not reminders.

Brad 04 May 05

If the idea is for Basecamp to be the perfect product for project/team management, it seems like common sense to offer the ability to reach out of the web to remind people of upcoming “milestones” or “to-do list” items via email.

Actually I’m pretty sure Basecamp does this now: I was just setting up a to-do list yesterday in Basecamp, and it allowed me to assign each to-do task to any person I chose and notify them by e-mail. However, it just notifies them once…it’s up to the person to use his/her own personal reminder system after that. With Outlook, for example, you’d just drag that e-mail onto your “Tasks” button to create the task and set reminders.

Andrew 05 May 05

One more thought regarding the multiple-contacts approach to reminders: What if I want one reminder to go to my cell phone but the rest to go to my email? That’s a completely legitimate individual use that is stymied by the current set-up. It’s unacceptible that in order for this to occur I’d have to log in and change my settings after I get the SMS reminder.

Bryan W 05 May 05

please give us basecamp style ftp/sftp file uploading.. i’d be really happy if there was a “Files” tab up there next to reminders some day soon. you’ve got the code for it.. come on (:

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