You’re reading Signal v. Noise, a publication about the web by Basecamp since 1999. Happy .

An organization, a social artifact, is very different from a biological organism. Yet it stands under the law that governs the structure and size of animals and plants: The surface goes up with the square of the radius, but the mass grows with the cube. The larger the animal becomes, the more resources have to be devoted to the mass and to the internal tasks, to circulation and information, to the nervous system, and so on.

Peter Drucker, The Effective Executive, 1967.

Hiring: Basecamp iOS developer

David wrote this on 3 comments

We’re hiring another iOS developer to help us build great native apps for Basecamp on all Apple platforms. You’ll join an existing iOS team at Basecamp that’s currently hard at work building a next-generation native app, but you’ll also help keep our legacy catalogue of apps humming.

It’s an offering for an experienced developer. You should have multiple shipped iOS apps under your belt (or one amazing one). You should be well-versed in iOS frameworks and APIs, but also be comfortable going off the golden path when necessary.

Our native development approach at Basecamp is hybrid. We combine great native navigation around WebViews and ground-up native features to get the best of both worlds: Productivity through shared codebases on the web, and great fidelity through native.

So while the bulk of the work is in ObjC/Swift, you should also be reasonably comfortable with both JavaScript and Ruby. Enhancing a Rails application to extend the API or tinkering with Turbolinks to make it work with a native-JavaScript bridge shouldn’t scare you.

It’s a great time to join Basecamp and our iOS team. We’ve recently gone all-in on Basecamp. Millions of people have used Basecamp, and our iOS apps are both well-liked and growing rapidly as the way people use the system. The latest work we’ve been doing, and that you’ll help us finish, will make that even more so the case.

We’re looking for someone who’s ready to do the best work of their career – without risking their health, sanity, or life outside of work. Basecamp is here for the long term. We’ve been in business for 16 years (5 before Basecamp, 11 since Basecamp), and we’ve been profitable the whole time. We’re not beholden to or on any venture capitalist timeline. Private and profitable allows us to set our own course given what’s best for our customers and employees.

We believe in taking great care of our incredible team, most of whom have been with us for a long time. This means lovely benefits to help you be the best you possible: fitness and massage allowances, fresh fruit/vegetable subsidies, helping out with continued education, matching charity donations, and of course great healthcare and retirement assistance (401k match in US). When you’ve been here for a year, you’re also in on Fridays off in the Summer. It’s a great package that’s part of creating a great scene.

Since we literally wrote the book on working remotely, we’re of course also open to applicants from both the Americas and Europe (any further away is tough to get enough timezone overlap). We do, however, expect your proficiency with English to be at or close to a native speaker. If you happen to be in Chicago, we have a great office for you to work from as you please. If not, we’ll pay for co-working space or help you outfit a great home office.

Does this sound like you?

Then please write with [iOS Developer] as part of the subject line. We strongly encourage you to kill on the cover letter, but also to include links to some actual code you’ve written. If the code is on Github, you can share a private repo with dhh. (If it’s not possible to share code, that’s not a deal killer either, if you can blow us away otherwise).

Remember, it doesn’t matter where you went to school (or if you even graduated). We don’t care about how many years of irrelevance you have under your belt. The work is what matters as well as your willingness to improve yourself and everything you touch. We look forward to hearing from you!

(This opening has been cross-posted to as well).

Trying out Character Animator with Happy Camper

Shaun wrote this on 1 comment

I’ve been messing around with Adobe’s new Character Animator software recently. It’s a pretty wild program that uses your webcam to track facial movements, your computer’s microphone to do lip sync, mouse inputs for extra animations, a fair amount of physics to make things dangle and sway, applies those to a puppet, and spits it all out into After Effects.

The software, which is still in public preview, comes with a bunch of ready-made puppets to play with, but I figured our own Happy Camper needed a proper treatment.

The puppet comes with all the mouth-shapes you would need to have a nice lip sync, it blinks when you blink, looks surprised when you open your mouth really wide and has mousetrack points on each hand and foot.

So, if you have Character Animator (shows up when you update Adobe After Effects) Download the Happy Camper puppet for yourself!

Because the software is still in public preview there are still a few bugs and workarounds you may need to overcome to get the puppet to work properly, so if you need any help feel free to get at me on Twitter and if you make any fun videos using Happy Camper, show us!

Special thanks to Nate Otto for the fantastic artwork.

This is how Basecampers around the world listen to music

Dan Kim
Dan Kim wrote this on 6 comments

When Apple recently released their new music subscription service, it got us talking in Campfire about how all of us at Basecamp listen to music. So I asked everyone, “What’s your music setup?”, specifically wondering what software and hardware everyone was using, and why.

Turns out the answers were crazy open-ended! On the software side, we had nearly every medium covered. And the hardware side was equally as varied.

Since our resident data pro Noah can literally chart anything, he did. Note: we make no claims on the accuracy of these visualizations ;)

So what conclusions can we draw from that unscientific data?

  • iTunes is still used a lot, but Spotify is close to overtaking it
  • Streaming is the generally preferred method
  • Music is with us everywhere and on just about every device we own – laptop, cars, phones, headphones, set top boxes, you name it

Along with that “data”, there were some unique, entertaining bits from everyone.

Scott U. hates iTunes

“A mix of pure, unadulterated hatred for the iTunes app and a desire to find new music and share it with my kids. Rdio has a nice UI, great selection, and just enough of a social recommendation engine to make it useful.”

Jamie D. enjoys guilty pleasures on Google Play

“I can listen to one track guilty pleasures, radio, mixes, and full albums anywhere.”

Ryan S. prefers things that just work

“I prefer connecting devices by analog signal when possible, e.g. minijack aux cable in the car, because (a) it always works and (b) I don’t have to train guests, friends, girlfriend etc how to use it”

Jonas D. is low-brow

“I hooked up a low-brow setup on my desk so I could use a Bluetooth connection with some excellent (old) Bose speakers I had on hand, using these two little gadgets:,”

Shaun H. thinks the computers at Pandora are sweet

“iTunes Radio is mostly out of convenience when I’m entertaining, but no one beats Pandora’s recommendation algorithm.”

Tom W. is not a fan of his Dad changing his music

“Main downside is my Dad has paired his phone with my system, and has been known to come around and hijack my stereo. Which I think is rude.”

Pratik N. uses a laptop lap thing

“I really love Logitech’s N700. It’s the best laptop lap thing EVER. And the speakers are reasonably good. They are super hard to find these days and I’m scared of not having an alternative if/when mine breaks down!”

Dan K. likes to delete things

“I deleted all my local music and rely 100% on streaming. If I can’t get to something, oh well, I’ll live. I just listen to something else.”

Chase C.’s car is vintage

“I also use an old school tape with an audio cord to my iPhone so I can play music in my car. (Yep – my car still has a tape player.)”

Kristin A.’s music is vintage

“Software: Records?

Hardware: Record player and speakers?

Rationale: Expensive and bulky?”

Allison G. M.’s husband sometimes vacuums things he shouldn’t

“Headphones were my beloved Bose headphones until the husband vacuumed them up.”

Jason F. is a streamer4life

“I’m 100% streaming. Don’t have any MP3s stored locally or any other physical music. Simpler all around. I have access to basically anything I’d want to listen to without having to ‘have it’.”

Noah L. is a mindless Google drone

“I’m a mindless Google drone; if they make it, I’ll use it unquestioningly.”

Tony G. has a serious home setup

“PC: Asus Xonar Essence One DAC + Swan T200B Speakers. Headphones/Earphones are some old Audio Technica AD-900, Audio Technica ATH-M50XBL, Sennheiser IE80. iPhone 4 permanently attached to some Logitech dock for the gym, and bluetooth to some Samsung soundbar for the lounge. Bluetooth to the car.”

Nick Q. loves Phish

“PhishOD: Over 30 years of Phish shows crowdsourced and in one app.

ETY-Plugs: Essential hardware for live audio. Going to 1-2 live shows a month impacted my hearing immensely.

Jam bands are my thing as of the past 4-5 years. I never really had a ‘concert phase’ so I’ve been living it up. It’s great music to just tune out to and get a lot of work done.”

Sylvia C. is a data hog

“I always have data, so I always stream: That way I have room on my phone for all the selfies I’ll never post.”

Conor M. keeps it simple

“Spotify is great at giving me tons of playlists to listen to without me having to do much of any work. When I want to listen to a specific album or track, they almost always have that too. I have no interest whatsoever in collecting, storing, or managing a library of music.”

Taylor W. is all about discovering new stuff

“Youtube – Type in ‘name of band or song’ optionally add ‘live’ or ‘cover’. Discover new stuff all the time by setting the filter to the last month / week, etc. – Because I always want to know the meaning of the lyrics.”

Nathan A. uses a lot of hardware words that I don’t understand

“Sonus Faber Concertino bookshelf speakers running off a Topping TP30 Class T Digital Mini Amplifier with USB-DAC off the laptop, and MEElectronics A151P Balanced Armature In-Ear Headphone with Inline Microphone and Remote for on the road or hangouts.”

James G. takes his playlists seriously

“My playlist of new music to listen to is currently hovering at 3,000 tracks. I need to be able to listen to what I want, wherever I am – no matter where my hard drive full of music happens to be sitting.”

Chris J. doesn’t need your fancy schmancy setup

“I don’t need anything fancy to play it, so stick with iTunes as it makes it easier to add/remove stuff on my phone.”

DHH likes to chill

“iTunes has all my legacy music. It’s available offline, which is great when traveling. But I use Spotify offline as well for that. Spotify is for pretty much everything new. Favorite feature is all the great pre-made playlists. Current favorites: Evening Chill, Tranquility with a Beat, Favorite Coffeeshop, Peaceful Piano.”

Emily T. L. supports the artists

“Artists don’t make anything off streaming services, so I try to make a point of going to live shows and buying a band’s CD (!) or purchasing music from their website. And making your own music is fun. :)”

Merissa D. supports the artists too!

“If I find something I love through Spotify, (or elsewhere) I’ll buy the album on iTunes or I’ll buy the CD for my car.”

JorDanée K. keeps their Airstream bumpin’

“32GB hard drive in the truck with random playlists, and an iPhone 6 Plus wired to the truck or Airstream sound system for everything else”

Jay O. is quite lazy

“I’m quite lazy these days around finding new music and Google Play let’s me quickly pick a mood I’m in and start streaming.”

Matthew K. likes analog knobs

“I’ve got a small component system setup in the office comprised of a dedicated dac, amp, sub, pre-amp, record player, etc – all of which are pretty compact. It was fun to put together and has lots of analog knobs to turn. When sitting I connect the laptop with a mini toslink cable, and when standing I use bluetooth.”

Javan M. is all about the highest quality fidelity

“Rdio tip: Turn the sound quality up to 320kbps in Settings -Advanced. Spotify has a similarly buried setting.”

Natalie K. is not much for rationale

“I don’t have much rationale to be honest. I like Spotify, because I have used it for a long time. SoundCloud is awesome for finding new music.”

Jim M. goes independent

“Soundcloud and Bandcamp are my places to go for music from independent artists, especially mash-ups like”

Eron N. just can’t quit Pandora

“Google Play Music for full albums, Pandora for streaming radio. I’ve tried to switch off Pandora three or four times now and just keep coming back.”

Will J. will take his MP3s to the grave

“I almost exclusively buy and download MP3s rather than listening to streaming services, but I might give Apple Music a try if it’s released in the UK, the family plan looks compelling.”

Jason Z. doesn’t quite believe the Apple Music hype

“Waiting for Apple Music to save the day but not daring to hope.”

Joan S. is too busy kicking ass and taking names

“I can’t really listen to music while I work and most of my non-working awake hours are spent doing judo, bjj or weightlifting. A lot of my music listening is done in the car. I don’t really get to listen to music they way I did when I was younger.”

Michael B. is fully armed, as usual

“At home (or traveling) I typically stream via Bluetooth from my phone to a Bose SoundLink Mini. It offers good sound in a tiny package. Or I’ll play records on my semi-recently purchased Audio-Technica turntable. At the office I use a pair of Sony headphones. One of my favorite accessories for listening in the car is a CD-slot mounted phone holder”

Zach W. has his own radio station

“The vast majority of the time, I listen to ‘Zach FM’, which is Rdio’s infinite station of music tailored to my tastes, with no ads or interruptions. I like not having to think about what to listen to next, but still have the option to listen to a specific album when I want. I think Rdio’s apps have gotten buggier overtime, so I’m looking forward to checking out Apple Music.”

Whew! So there you have it. How about you—what’s your music setup?

Behind the scenes: our staff performance widget

Noah wrote this on 6 comments

Behind the Scenes posts take you inside Basecamp for a look at an aspect of how our products are built and run.

In our quest to make Basecamp as fast as possible for users all around the world, we recently decided to elevate awareness of page load performance for staff users. We wanted speed to be something we always think about, so for the last couple of months Basecamp staff have been seeing a little something extra when they’re logged in to Basecamp: “Oracle”, our performance widget.

Oracle uses the Navigation Timing and Resource Timing APIs that are implemented in most browsers to track how many requests are made in the course of loading a page, how long the page takes to load, how much time was spent waiting for the first byte of content to be received vs. parsing and loading scripts and styles, and how much time was actually spent processing the request within Rails itself. On browsers that don’t support those APIs, we degrade gracefully to present as much information as possible.

Mobile staff users don’t miss out on the fun—we include a stripped down version of the widget at the bottom of every page:

If you need Oracle out of the way you can drag it wherever you want, or just minimize it into a little logo in the bottom corner of the page:

This data for staff users is sent up to our internal dashboard, which enables us to diagnose slow page loads in more detail. When staff click on the toolbar after a slow page load, they load a page in our dashboard that looks like this:

This page shows the full request/response waterfall, including DNS resolution, TCP connection, SSL negotiation, request and server runtime, downloading, and DOM processing. It also shows timing for the additional assets or ancillary requests that were loaded.

One of the most useful features of Oracle is having instant access to all of the logs for a request. Clicking on the request ID under “Initial request” will load the Rails, load balancer, and any other logs for the first request of the page load.

In addition to presenting the raw Rails logs for the request, we also try to do a little bit of helpful work for you—we identify duplicated queries, possible N+1 queries, cache hit rates, etc. In most cases, timing details and logs are available in the dashboard within two seconds of the page load completing.

Oracle is just one of the tools we put to work to try to make Basecamp fast for all users. Read more about other things we do to keep Basecamp fast and available for you.

Empty stomach, poor decisions

David wrote this on 10 comments

Entrepreneurial lore is rife with odes to hunger as a foundational necessity of success. Hungry founders are commended as the ones desperate enough to do whatever it takes. Hustle the gullible, bend the law, persevere through endless death marches. Whatever it takes.

But is desperation really the best foundation to build the kind of sustainable and long-term businesses the world benefits from the most? Or, is it rather a cheap trick to juice the odds of a short-term pop to the primary benefit of those who are only ever along for a quick ride?

I believe the latter. That it’s key to a narrative that serves those who extract their riches from the startup mining shafts — venture capitalists.

That’s what really gets to me. Champions of hunger-as-a-badge-of-honor are usually the fattest cats in the land. Extolling the virtue of an empty stomach is unsurprisingly easy when it’s something for others to endure.

And what a rotten virtue in any case. Poor decisions are the natural consequence of an empty stomach. Hunger has a Maslowian way of placing itself on the top of your hierarchy of needs. Whatever focus is gained through the tunnel vision of hunger is quickly overshadowed by the accompanying disregard for all else.

It’s the incarnation of short-term priorities. Primal neural pathways taking over. Fight or flight at every encounter. And not just for the time it takes to get to the first taste of success. Habits formed from hunger, like any other habits, gleefully outlive their founding context, and continue to govern behavior long after it is gone and forgotten.

It need not be this way. It’s not only entirely possible, but vastly preferable, to set off a new venture on a full stomach. Building the new not because of a perceived existential threat if you don’t succeed, but simply because building the new is intrinsically rewarding.

It’s also that much easier to keep your moral compass calibrated and pointed in a sustainable, healthy direction when you can focus on your own thoughts and not a growling stomach. It’s how you build businesses and organizations that aren’t just about fulfilling your own personal and immediate needs, but instead bring about respect – possibly even admiration – from customers, employees, founders, and perhaps even competitors.

Hunger is a stick for nobility to beat peasants into submission. Mistaking its abuse for inspiration is an entirely avoidable travesty. It’s time to pick another source of motivation for starting new businesses.

Finding the voice of The Distance

Wailin Wong
Wailin Wong wrote this on 6 comments

We introduced The Distance podcast in February as a companion to our longform written stories about businesses that have stood the test of time. In just a few months, we’ve learned an incredible amount about creating audio narratives and had a great time doing it—so much so, in fact, that we’ve decided to make the podcast the sole format for The Distance.

By focusing on just one medium, we’ll be able to bring you new stories every other week. Our last written story will run in early July. In the meantime, check out our bonus episode featuring Jason Fried talking to Shaun Hildner about his fascination with all things old and why he started The Distance. We’ll have another new episode next week, and it’s a good one—there are sandwiches involved! So please subscribe via iTunes or the podcast app of your choice. And if you like what you hear, we’d love it if you could rate and review us on iTunes.

The Distance podcast features compact, powerful stories about old-line businesses that you don’t often hear about, like an auto salvage yard with a famously dated TV ad or a floral shop that sells 25,000 roses every Valentine’s Day. The response from readers of The Distance over the last year has been really encouraging, and we’re looking forward to bringing you even more under-the-radar business stories in audio form. Please tune in and let us know what you think!

Hitting our stride with Android

Dan Kim
Dan Kim wrote this on 6 comments

Over the past few months, our newly minted Android team (Jamie, Jay, and myself) has been hard at work on some shiny new Android stuff. And while we can’t share it yet (soon, I promise!), we’ve learned a lot about how to rapidly prototype, explore, and most importantly ship these new ideas within Basecamp.

Like any new team, it took us a bit to find our groove. But in the past eight weeks, we’ve really hit our stride. Now we’re moving quickly and making great progress, without causing ourselves a lot of anxiety or creating undue risk.

So I wanted to share a bit about the strategies that have been working for us. I hope these can help other Android (and even non-Android) product teams out there.

Here’s what we do…

We ship internal builds to the Basecamp team every two weeks.

We scope most of our work into two week cycles of design, programming, and testing (excluding QA). Some of the work might be carryover from a previous cycle (like a design exploration), but the programming is from scratch.

Having two week cycles puts us into a shipping mindset that encourages focus and discipline. Issues can’t linger — we have to make quick (smart) decisions. And we have to be ruthless about cutting scope down to what’s shippable.

Of course some ideas will take longer than two weeks to finish. If we decide to tackle those, there is one criteria: they can’t be exploratory, they need to be well-formed, solid ideas. If something is going to spread out over a few builds, then it has to be worth the investment.

We pick a theme for our build cycles.

Very early on we wrote up 5-6 big themes that we wanted to focus builds around. While these themes changed over time, the idea has stuck and has been an invaluable part of our process.

Every internal build now goes out with a theme that gives everyone a 1-2 sentence idea of what they’re going to get. For example, we might theme a build as “Get to things faster on every screen”. These themes achieve two important things:

  1. It broadly sets the Android team’s development goal — the goal we should measure our work against every few days.
  2. It gives everyone else at Basecamp a nice tl;dr of what to expect. When someone picks up our build, they should be nodding their head in agreement with the theme. If not, then we’ve missed the mark and need re-evaluate what we’ve done.

We kickoff right after our last build ships.

Two weeks isn’t much time to plan, design, program, test, and ship. So right after a build goes out, we spend an hour or so going over our open themes, bugs, and considering where we are in the big picture. Then we pick a theme, assign ourselves work, and get cracking.

The discussion itself is very fluid, and is driven by a variety of factors – technical considerations, overall progress, design ideas, and even logistics like vacation schedules. For example, Jamie is going on his month long sabbatical in July. That was a signal to Jay and I that we should spend as much time as we can now on design executions, and leave architecture and plumbing for July.

We balance low-level programming work (not as much fun) and UI work (more fun) as best we can.

We suffered from this imbalance a bit early on. We spent our first couple builds firming up our foundation and working on our testing tools and suite.

This was all good and necessary, but we started to feel a little stuck. Even though it wasn’t true, it felt like we weren’t making great progress because it was harder to see the fruits of our labor. Perception can be reality, sometimes.

So we started balancing our themes better. We started taking more shots at UI work that felt more rewarding, while never ignoring our foundation.

Over the last few builds, we’ve done a better job of balancing these, and it’s really showing in the quality of our work and the happiness of our team.

We involve our QA team early and often.

The QA team comes in right after we ship. The sooner we have quality eyes on major areas, the better off we are, period. Our QA team does a great job identifying not only bugs, but also big picture UI and product considerations that could impact one of our next cycles. These are often things we don’t notice because we’re too close to the work day to day.

We’re rigorous about shipping.

Even though our self-imposed two week deadlines are arbitrary, we respect them. We close our to-dos, write release notes, and bring in QA. If we’re going to ship, we’re going to ship like we mean it.

We keep our progress visible.

This sounds obvious, but we keep our to-do lists updated and we share heartbeats regularly with everyone at the company. This not only helps manage the day to day, but it helps to communicate a clear picture of what we’ve been up to. Everyone feels free to jump in and give us direction, offer new ideas and advice, and even simply say a few words of encouragement!

We recognize there will be cold streaks.

Sometimes we’ll absolutely fly through stuff, and other times it feels like we can barely type. It happens to everyone. We respect our shipping deadlines, but know that everyone hits a cold streak now and again. We encourage each other to keep at it and to ship as best we can.

We plan for the future a little bit at a time instead of all at once.

We don’t excessively plan, but we do spend 30 minutes here there considering our next few cycles. The idea is to not get distracted from shipping our current build, yet recognize the value of organic conversations and ideas to the bigger picture. It’s important not to lose sight of the end goal, and doing this a little bit at a time helps with that.

There is one important footnote to all of these strategies: the biggest factor for success is the makeup of our entire team. Jamie and Jay are great at what they do. And our designers, programmers, support team, writer, and video producer are all great teachers and listeners — we’re lucky to have them backing us all the time.

Put that all together, and we know we can create something great for our customers. Stay tuned!

The special recipe for DELIGHT

Jonas Downey
Jonas Downey wrote this on 5 comments

Delight is a word interaction designers have been throwing around for the past couple of years. Some people think it’s an overblown buzzword, while others believe it’s a subject worthy of an entire conference.

One part of “designing delight” is about turning otherwise mundane tasks into funny or interesting moments. On the UI side, this might include adding thoughtful animations, cutesy or clever copywriting, and perhaps tossing in a few surprises on top.

These surface-level treatments help make a product seem more human and less computery, which is surely a good thing to do whether you define it as delight or not. At Basecamp, we try to bake this sort of thinking right into our usual design process, rather than calling it out as a specific ideal.

But there’s another, deeper kind of delight. For this post I’ll call it DELIGHT. Here’s an example.

I recently moved my sizable photo library to Google Photos, for a variety of boring reasons: it syncs with Google Drive, storage space is generous, sharing albums is easy, it doesn’t mess with my existing file structure, and searching is miles ahead of competing services. Sure enough, it all works very well — currently besting Apple’s or Dropbox’s offerings.

I was already satisfied, and then Google Photos did something I didn’t expect. When I synced my tens of thousands of photos, the Google Photos “Assistant” bot worked behind the scenes to breathe new life into them, by automatically compiling them into animations, stories, and collages. The stories and collages were roughly what you’d expect a computer to achieve when laying out photos: a fine enough job, but not too mind-blowing.

It was the animation idea that knocked my socks off.

As any parent of a young child (who just WON’T SIT STILL) can tell you, you often need to take 30 photos in a row to get one good one. So we do that a lot. This means our photo libraries are cluttered with countless batches of photos, most of which are basically blurry garbage. Who has the time to go through all of them to find that one perfect gem? Definitely not parents of young children!

Google’s engineers realized this, so they transformed all that garbage into something great.

Now that, right there, is DELIGHT.

Not only did this feature make amazing use of all those junky photos I haven’t looked at in years, it did so automatically. Google Photos just made my entire library much better without my intervention.

This feature has been around for a couple of years, but it doesn’t show off its true power until you backload your 10 years’ worth of stuff. And before now, backloading all your stuff sounded rather unappealing since the Photos feature was deeply intertwined with a big social network.

It took Google a long time to find the special recipe — that perfect combination of features, capabilities, and surprises — to get DELIGHT. To make it happen, they needed to mix cheap storage, tons of processing power, robust file syncing, plus a healthy dose of smart thinking and a willingness to decouple Photos from its social networking parent.

Now, DELIGHT isn’t really about the software itself. Seeing photos of your kid from 3 years ago in a brand new way is sentimental and emotional. It just so happens that the software helped make those emotions happen. I love my kid, not the software, but now I’m certainly more endeared to the software and the people who created it.

This is what product design is about. Finding the special recipe for DELIGHT. Making people badasses by giving them new superpowers they couldn’t have achieved on their own. Everything else along the way — the animations, the copywriting, the tech, etc. — is just supporting material for the main act.

Please allow me to re-introduce myself

Nathan Kontny
Nathan Kontny wrote this on 19 comments

On March 20, 2007, Highrise, Basecamp's simple CRM tool, was launched to the public. Three years later, Highrise for the iPhone was released. Over the years, Highrise has received upgrades and improvements, but it needed a new home and dedicated team to give it the attention it deserved. So, on August 14, 2014, Highrise HQ LLC began – a new company dedicated to Highrise.

At the top of the list of things we wanted to update was the iPhone app. It had been over 4 years since it was released, and it hadn't kept up with changes to iOS. Bugs crept in. Some subtle; some significant. Our plan was to immediately go in and make fixes, but we realized the original iPhone app was built using an iOS framework that wasn't supported any longer, and hence, Apple was no longer approving apps built using that old technology.

We were in a bind. We decided to pull the Highrise iPhone app from the store because of the bugs people were facing (you could still get to the old app from your previous downloads in iTunes), but we couldn't fix anything or offer anything new. On top of that, we had to build a brand new team to support Highrise, get the lay of the land, make improvements to the web app that were sorely needed, and then one day we could get to the iPhone.

Well, I'm thrilled to announce that day is here. We started from scratch. We spent months making sure it satisfied the core needs of Highrise customers. It's been put through its paces with thousands of Beta testers to get it ready.

Highrise 2.0 for the iPhone is now available to everyone on the App Store

It has your Activity Feed, Contacts, Tasks, and Custom Fields. And all sorts of helpful extras. For example, adding a task from anywhere in the app assigns that context to the task (just like it does in the web app). On a contact, add a task, the task is now Re: your contact. On an email, add a task, the task is Re: that specific email.

Or the Current Location help when editing an address, making it a ton easier to add new Contacts when you are mobile.

Or the subtle navigation designs, like how tapping the Activity icon once will return you to where you left off in your Activity, but a second tap will scroll you back to the top:

Or the ability to switch amongst your multiple Highrise accounts:

We have plenty more coming for the app. We know folks want Cases, Deals, Tags, and offline support. And we know Android users want an app too ;) All things on our list. But this is a solid foundation for the future of Highrise on mobile, and so far, people have loved it:

If you enjoy it, we'd greatly appreciate a review on the App Store, and if you have any issues or feedback, there's a handy Help & Feedback button in the app to quickly get someone at Highrise to help.

From all of us at Highrise, thank you very much for your patience as we got this ready, and for the tons of help and feedback we've gotten along the way. We hope you find it as handy as we have. It's the first thing I check in the morning :) Thank you for being part of the new Highrise. We're just getting warmed up.

Download Highrise 2.0 for the iPhone

-Nathan Kontny, CEO Highrise
P.S. The Highrise team is growing. If you know anyone who is great at Software Engineering, and would love to be part of improving Highrise please send them our way!


David wrote this on 7 comments

I’ve been a vocal critic of Android for years. Compared to the glorious polish, consistency, and coherence of Apple’s iOS, Google’s sprawling, inconsistent, and incomplete operating system always felt less. Yes, occasional rays of brilliance, but a sum less of its parts. And to many – although now fewer – extents, I think that’s still true.

But. I’ve come to realize the appeal that lies in figuring out and taming all that sprawl. It invites spelunking in ways that remind me of an earlier age of computing. Hacking consoles, tailoring icon sets, and finding backdoors and alleyways.

It’s a tinkerer’s joy. It’s riddles and puzzles. It’s computing not for the sake of productivity, but as a hobby in its own purpose. It’s the pleasure of making something your own, something unique. A pleasure in part and exactly because it’s not for everyone.

What really got me lured down this path wasn’t just Android in general, though. It was the Moto X in particular. I love this phone. It doesn’t do any specific technical discipline particularly well: The screen is below par (white balance is way too warm), the camera is distinctly mediocre, the battery is so-so. Processor and speed is fine, but nothing wow.

Yet it just feels right in the hand. The last time I recall this feeling was another Motorola phone, the PEBL, back in 2005. It too was nothing special as a technical exercise, but it also just felt great, like the Moto X. Particularly with the wonderful wood back. The 5.2” is perfect. The screen-to-bezel ratio is excellent.

So I keep reaching for the Moto X. Phones have gotten so good that as long as you’re not dependent on things where big leaps are still being made (like the camera), yesteryear’s tech can play second-fiddle to the personal attachment and emotion of the device. That’s a wonderful sign of progress and invitation to diversity.

Anyway, the appeal of the Moto X has sucked me deeper into that sprawling Android land. No, I haven’t given up on iOS. I need to double-carry anyway to deal with two sim cards. But I really appreciate Android culture as distinctly different. Worse in so many obvious ways, and probably for most people, but also alluring and appealing in many other subtle ways.

Some times worse and flawed are just different angles of affection.