Backpack Preview #4 (the last preview): The Backpack Manifesto 28 Apr 2005

61 comments Latest by wqerwer

We’re launching publicly next week. Rumor has it we like Tuesdays. Starting this afternoon we’re going to begin trickling out a few hundred Golden Tickets granting early access before the public launch. We can’t field requests for tickets (and we won’t be able to grant one to anyone who expressly asks, sorry) — the process will mostly be random based on people who’ve signed up for the announcement list. Special thanks to everyone who signed up! If you haven’t signed up, you still can.

So, here’s the last preview: The Backpack Manifesto.

Information is only useful if you know where it is

Your information is everywhere. Scattered across notebooks, emails, post-it notes, and god knows where else. With Backpack, there’s a better way. Now Information is easy to organize, centralize, and retrieve. Information works for you instead of vice versa.

You make the rules

Most information management tools are riddled with mandatory fields, complex multi-step processes, and specialized “buckets” for data. “Simplify your life in 32 easy steps! Just fill out these 64 fields!” Yeah, right. Backpack adjusts to organize things your way. It’s a blank slate that offers you less structure and more space. Easily fill your pages with anything you want, from notes to to-do lists to images to files. And then group them however you want, wherever you want. It’s organization the way you want it.

Calendars are clogged enough

Running out of room on your calendar? Meetings, deadlines, holidays, and other big events take up crucial space. The stuff that permeates our daily lives often gets lost in the shuffle. How do we remember things like picking up the dry cleaning, dropping off a DVD, or returning a phone call? Things like that don’t belong on your calendar, but they belong in your life. Backpack reminders come to the rescue. Quickly set a notice for a general timeframe like “tomorrow morning” or “next Monday.” Or get specific: “9:45pm on May 5th.” Or even “+15” for 15 minutes from now. Backpack will then send you an email or mobile phone reminder when you need it and where you’ll see it.

“Keepshare” your information

Some information yearns to be shared with the world (“Top 10 things to do in Chicago”). Other bits are personal (Frequent flyer numbers, a personal to-do list, etc.). Some only need to be seen by a few people (“Ideas for the presentation on Friday” or “People we’re considering hiring”). Backpack lets you pick and choose who sees what. You determine what’s private, what’s semi-private, and what’s public. We call this “Keepshare” — some you keep, some you share. It’s up to you.

Say hello to an old friend: Email

Backpack takes a fresh look at email — as a publishing vehicle. Send an email to Backpack and it will turn the message into something useful on the web. Need to post a to-do item from your cell phone or Blackberry? Email it to Backpack and it will be converted into a to-do item with a checkbox. Want to send yourself a text note along with some images and a file? No problem — send it all in a single email and Backpack will post the note, thumbnail the image(s), and attach the file(s). Clean, quick, effortless — and familiar.

All together now

With Backpack, everything’s in one place: online. You can access it from a modern web browser (IE 6+, Safari, or Firefox) anytime. Home machine or work machine or friend’s house? Doesn’t matter. PC or Mac? Doesn’t matter. Application-specific and special file formats? Not anymore. Your information is centrally available through a web browser whenever you need it. And it’s backed-up and safe, without you having to worry about it. Plus, since Backpack is web-based, and we host the service, there’s never anything to install, update, or patch.

No jacket required

You shouldn’t have to know HTML — or even know what HTML is — to publish information on the web. There should be a simple web interface that quickly and easily lets you get information online. Backpack’s got it. You should be able to publish via email and Backpack lets you. There’s no need to open the hood, Backpack just works.

We call it useful

Some have called Backpack “a wiki with out the wacky.” Others have called it “blogish.” Others have said it’s a project management tool for all the little things in your life. Some say it’s a application that helps you get things done. Some have called it Basecamp’s little brother. Call it what you will. We call it useful and hope you do too.

Last but most: Clear, Simple, and Fast

At the heart of Backpack is simplicity and clarity. Things work the way you’d expect them to work. Everything complex has been tossed so the tool is simple to the core. In fact, nothing takes more than a few seconds. Our “Ajaxed” interface elements eliminate reloading hassles. Backpack gives you the benefit of the web (centralized access, no install, no IT nightmares) without the downsides of the web (reloads, slowdowns, poor interfaces). Information management on the web has finally been realized. Backpack it.

61 comments so far (Jump to latest)

Dan Boland 28 Apr 05

Let me be the first to say well done (if no one beats me to it while I’m typing this). I was very impressed when you showed it off at the workshop.

But now that you’ve mentioned it, I’ll go ahead and ask… in the comments of the last preview, a few people expressed concern about spammers e-mailing your Backpack account and flooding it with crap. But my question concerns sending a message to your cell phone. I can foresee some obnoxious person signing up for a free account and sending anyone and everyone annoying messages on their cell phones. What do you have to say about that?

(Yikes… that question reads like I’m a total jerk. I’m just curious.)

JF 28 Apr 05

I can foresee some obnoxious person signing up for a free account and sending anyone and everyone annoying messages on their cell phones. What do you have to say about that?

They can’t. That’s what we have to say about it ;)

Gordon 28 Apr 05

Roll on next week says I.

The timing is great for me, as I’m in mid-GTD mode and reorganising a lot of the way I do stuff.

If it’s half as good as Basecamp it’ll be a fantastic product.

Chad 28 Apr 05

How do you get the Backpack signup text so large? Is that simply changing the font size in the html?

Anyone know of any website that discuss ajax techniques more in depth?

Chris Woods 28 Apr 05

How do you get the Backpack signup text so large? Is that simply changing the font size in the html?

You apply a font-size style to the form input element.

Chris Woods 28 Apr 05

I can foresee some obnoxious person signing up for a free account and sending anyone and everyone annoying messages on their cell phones. What do you have to say about that?

This can happen today with a free email service. Most carriers allow you to send a SMS message to any phone via email.

David 28 Apr 05

You can access it from a modern web browser (IE 6+, Safari, or Firefox) anytime.

What about from a cell phone/blackberry? If I can post with that device, I should be able to view with that device. At least for things like todo lists.

Adam Michela 28 Apr 05

Intriguing. Let’s see it already!

Foofy 28 Apr 05

I know Opera 8 isn’t one of your “supported” browsers, but Backpack seems to work fine, so hopefully this will too. This is pretty exciting, I sure hope I get one of the tickets!

Marten Veldthuis 28 Apr 05

Sounds absolutely great. Still, question which remains unanswered is how well this SMSing works internationally.

Eric Faris 28 Apr 05

How will Backpack hook into my TaDa Lists?

Alan O'Rourke 28 Apr 05

Fair play lads. I look forward to the launch like i do with all output from 37signals :)

Hope it goes brilliant for you.

Dan Boland 28 Apr 05

They canít. Thatís what we have to say about it ;)

Is it because SMS is only for paying customers?

Nick Stenning 28 Apr 05

To echo Alan, I’d just like to say really well done to you guys. You’re a great team making great products. I can’t wait to see Basecamp.

And just … thanks =)

JF 28 Apr 05

Is it because SMS is only for paying customers?

Anyone can email anyone’s phone today (See this). This isn’t a special Backpack-exclusive feature — we just execute the feature in a useful way. So, it would be a lot easier to spam people with a standard email app than use Backpack to do it.

Matt Carey 28 Apr 05

ooooh! Can’t wait until… Tuesday was it? :)

jake 28 Apr 05

I think they’re talking about spamming people’s backpack account… not spamming from backpack.

I would assume this could be fixed though be pre-registering addresses that you can email to your backpack account from. Which I’m sure you’ve already thought of and implemented.

jake 28 Apr 05

oh, my mistake - dan was talking about spamming from backpack. well anyway, my point still stands for people’s backpack accounts getting spammed :)

Foofy 28 Apr 05

Now that Opera supports XMLHttpRequest, will it be one of your supported browsers? Just repeating an earlier thought but I was wondering if there was any official response on Opera support yet.

p8 28 Apr 05

Sounds great. I can’t wait to test it.

I would assume this could be fixed though be pre-registering addresses that you can email to your backpack account from.

The problem with this is that you can easily fake your email’s from field.

JF 28 Apr 05

Now that Opera supports XMLHttpRequest, will it be one of your supported browsers?

It’s not that they support it, it’s how. We’ll look into it, but it’s not a high priority right now. Not enough people use to divert attention from higher priority issues.

Shanti 28 Apr 05

I. Can’t. Freaking. Wait. !!!

So stoked you guys are ready to unleash your new baby!

/basecamp fan #23577099

Foofy 28 Apr 05

Well apparently it misses a few functions but the rest are there. They’ll improve support in the near future, but until then I guess I could make some user scripts to work around anything that doesn’t work yet.

Greg Hamm 28 Apr 05

looks pretty sweet, what kind of cross-over is there going to be with basecamp? any of the features going to make their way into basecamp or vice-versa?

Dan Boland 28 Apr 05

Anyone can email anyoneís phone today (See this). This isnít a special Backpack-exclusive feature ó we just execute the feature in a useful way. So, it would be a lot easier to spam people with a standard email app than use Backpack to do it.

I didn’t know that. I hope spammers and other obnoxious people don’t figure that out in droves. =/ Nonetheless, I’m anticipating the launch. Now my wife won’t have to be my day planner anymore. =D

Adam Michela 28 Apr 05

Dan, you’ve never had SMS spam? Consider yourself lucky.

I’ve had many a 3AM sales pitch.

Like JF said though, this isn’t anything new. Your cellphone having an email address I mean.

When I’m not getting SMS spam, I’m getting a friend on Halo 2 sending me SMS game invites in the middle of the night. I wish I had the guts to turn my phone off once in awhile…

Wayne 28 Apr 05

Finally, so real information. I think this might actually work well for me. I just hope that the printing styles are faily nice so I can keep printouts in my analog planner. It isn’t as sexy or as syncable as my Palm pilot, but I find the data entry and formatting using a pen and paper wonderful.

I’ll be looking forward to it on tuesday and adding it to my basecamp system.

kelby 28 Apr 05

does backpack support vCal ? If so, I’d love a sneaky peak at the binary data structure and the UDH :)

Lars Fischer 28 Apr 05

This sounds very interesting! I must say that I love ta-da for it’s simplicity and usefulness.
On the other hand I don’t like Basecmap very much, mostly because I don’t like the interface.

matt Carey 28 Apr 05

i’m hunting for a golden ticket amongst the fudge whip surprises…

Jordan 28 Apr 05

Amazing. This is the program I’ve been dreaming about for the last couple of years. Thank you! Soon you will be replacing my miriad of email subject line filters and AppleScript hacks.

BlakeB 28 Apr 05

I’m very happy to see SMS alerts! My powerbook is often out of reach with only contextual tasks printouts when out for the day. I don’t want another device if possible. I have a feeling 37signals has thought this through. The GTD geeks will be jumping on Backpack as soon as you send the invites. Hacks to TaDa lists and Basecamp or client side apps will be interesting to see.

Ben Bleything 28 Apr 05

Damn, this sounds amazing! Though I do have to say with a tear in my eye that it also sounds almost exactly like what I was going to do for Rails Day… only, you know, much better.

Congrats, and I know I’m incredibly excited to start using it!

Dan Brendstrup 28 Apr 05

Hrmpf. This is going to make me hate my stupid phone company even more for having closed down their email-to-sms gateway! :-)

Chas. 29 Apr 05

Sure, it all sounds great. I could sign up, and organize my life around it. But wait a second…

If YOU are hosting MY data, how do I know it’s safe? How do I know that it will always be there? How do I know you won’t take the money you should spend on a server upgrade and spend it on expensive women and fast cars…

I know that your app won’t be open source, but maybe the data format should be?

Emil Sit 29 Apr 05

What’s the pricing structure for Backpack going to be?

charlie 29 Apr 05

I ate a box of wonka bars and still no golden ticket.

Mr 29 Apr 05

Chas said “If YOU are hosting MY data, how do I know itís safe? How do I know that it will always be there? How do I know you wonít take the money you should spend on a server upgrade and spend it on expensive women and fast carsÖ”

You don’t. 37signals could go all Enron on you and your data, but then so can your bank. Risk is fun, isn’t it?


“I know that your app wonít be open source, but maybe the data format should be?”

I imagine exporting your data will be in XML as their basecamp product. XML is a standard. XML is a text document that you can open in a text reader. Open the Source.

geeky 29 Apr 05

this sounds great - i’m intruiged! i’m an organizer at heart, so i have a feeling i will love Backpack.

Jerry 29 Apr 05

Is there an email address we should whitelist to make sure our Golden Ticket doesn’t get mis-routed into Spam?

Foofy 29 Apr 05

Chas: http://everything.basecamphq.com/archives/000294.php. But that still doesn’t help if they go bankrupt. :)

AN 29 Apr 05

hey you guys might want to be careful about saying that this is a “getting things done” application…

http://www.davidco.com/blogs/david/archives/2005/04/heads_up_for_gt.html

Chris Pine 29 Apr 05

Another Opera 8 vote, please. :)

Can’t wait!

adam simms 29 Apr 05

ohhhh baby… JOYGASM!

i cannot wait for this release next week :)

cheers!

adamsimms 29 Apr 05

i got a golden ticket!!!! WONKA LOVES ME!

mtwo 29 Apr 05

really (really) looking forward to this…

i’m one unorganized bastard. sticky notes everywhere! sms reminders are going to be a godsend.

kudos fellas.

Hammed 29 Apr 05

Great idea.

I’ve been using my gmail account to do the same for a while. A better interface would be great…as long as I can find things as fast as I can with gmail.

James Coats 30 Apr 05

So, will it have a calendar or not? Guess I’ll have to wait and see. No golden ticket for me. Looking forward to checking it out:)

James

Vanessa Pagan 30 Apr 05

Aww, yeah! I got a golden ticket. I wrote a review of the goodness
for all the anxiously waiting.

Matthew Hall 30 Apr 05

Backpack is beautiful! Thank you!

I just got in from a rather heavy night out to find a backpack golden ticket in my inbox! Fantastic - although I may have to wait until morning to fully appreciate it. ut from what I have seen so far, this is going to be the next big thing in personal management and life organisation. Woo!

Taco John 02 May 05

The “[coming soon]” was removed from the Backpack link in the SvN sidebar, so it must be really close.

Can’t wait, I’ve been on edge since Sunday night.

backpackit user 03 May 05

crash and burn

TheRestOfUs 03 May 05

Dear Opera,

Don’t become the new IE 5.X. We’re moving on.

Here’s one vote to NOT do anything special to support Opera.

Don’t you Opera guys get it? It’s in your hands. Make the flippin’ browser work with valid code and then you don’t have to plea like panzies.

The reason Firefox, Safari, and IE 6 are supported has nothing to do with marketshare or politics (well, maybe in IE 6’s case it does a little…) it has to do with the fact that 37S can write ONCE and run in all of these browsers. In my experience, (which is QUITE VAST,) once your code validates there is very little difference between FF, Safari, and IE 6. Every once in a while you will find a glitch, however, browser specific hacks are not required, ususally you just approach the problem (presentation) from a different perspective, and the solution works across all three.

If Opera wants to join the party, just make it work—this is the approach Apple has taken with Safari, I can assure you, if Safari required special hacks, it would fall off of the “supported” list in no time flat.

I take a peek at all of my sites in Opera before launch, (only because I use BrowserCam—which makes it easy) and I think everyone can at least do that much, but honestly, if anything ever blew up, and it was working in the other three? I’d assume Opera was broken, and leave it at that.

Grayson 03 May 05

I demand integration between Backpack and Basecamp. Links between the two would be a great start. If I’m logged into one I shouldn’t have to log into the other.

Ed 03 May 05

I demand some fish, I like fish!

Rio Menaajng 03 May 05

In my life journey, in my work and play I’ve met my Ta-da then later I mark my Basecamp and never will I left my Backpack behind. All have been great thing, thank you.

Al 04 May 05

What is the difference between Backpack and Basecamp?

Andros 24 May 05

Why are there fixed fontsizes used in BackPack-site?? I think that’s a real shame.

The usability is incredible actually ;)

john 06 Mar 06

Hello Sir,Madam
i am intresting in your order but before i proceed i will like to
know if you do ship to lagos nigeria west africa and moreso i will
like
to know if you accept credit cards .
Thank

a 05 May 06

aaa

wqerwer 06 May 06

dfsfseeee

Post a comment

(Basic HTML is allowed)

NOTE: We'd rather not moderate, but off-topic, blatantly inflammatory, or otherwise inappropriate or vapid comments may be removed. Repeat offenders will be banned from commenting. Let's add value. Thank you.