One last Campfire test before launch Jason 09 Feb 2006

58 comments Latest by z

Ok, time to pound on Campfire one more time. For those who don’t know, Campfire is our simple group chat for business tool we’re launching shortly.


  1. This is a test only. You can’t sign up for your own Campfire account yet. It’s purely for load testing purposes. Campfire is not open for public business yet.
  2. Campfire does not work with IE 6/7 at this time — we’re only optimized for Firefox and Safari. We’ll have IE support when we launch the real deal next week.
  3. Transcripts are not visible to guests (everyone testing Campfire right now will be a guest). Members will have access to full chat and file transcripts (filterable by room, date, and person).
  4. There will be glitches. We may kick everyone out at any time and open the rooms up again. We may close down a room with no notice. We may end the test at any time. We’re going to be watching to see how the system responds to a variety of loads and scenarios.

UPDATE: The test is closed while we make some adjustments. Thanks to everyone that helped today.

58 comments so far (Jump to latest)

Sorry, we can't let you in right now 09 Feb 06

The owner of this Campfire chat room has either turned off guest access, changed the guest access URL, or the maximum number of people are already in the room.

If you believe this to be incorrect, please verify this with the person who invited you into the room or ask them for the new room URL.

Scott Meinzer 09 Feb 06

I got the same message and reloaded the test url and it let me in fine.

JF 09 Feb 06

Yup, fixed that glitch.

Scott Meinzer 09 Feb 06

I found a little glitch. It might make sense to throw an overflow: auto; on the sidebar code so that when someone ups their font size they don’t end up losing the files or user list.

It might not be the best solution but it is better then losing that content.

Peter 09 Feb 06

Looks great, liking the image preview :)

Sunder 09 Feb 06

Not sure what was happening, but my messages were not showing up. It worked fine in last week’s tests. Iam using firefox 1.5. Will try from a different system.

Sunder 09 Feb 06

Okay, the computer I was using(@work) had something called NoScript installed for Mozilla which I guess broke the chat window thingie. Anyway, Iam wondering why I didnt see any warnings or errors.


Mark 09 Feb 06

Upon loggin out I was presented with a screen stating that no more guests were allowed in (or words to that effect). However, backspacing out of that logout page put me back into the app and then doing a browser refresh put me back in the conversation as if I had never logged out to begin with.

Dave Greiner 09 Feb 06

Very slick guys. Love the PDF preview. Nice and consistent with your other apps now too.

Worked flawlessly on Safari 2.0.3

louis w 09 Feb 06

does not show my comments
ad i have to manually refresh the page to see anything.

maybe im not getting this, but it looks like those “chat” rooms from 1990 where it was a webpage refreshing.

safari 1.2

JamieS 09 Feb 06

Good stuff guys. Uploaded a 3MB image. didn’t show up as a preview for some people (including myself) until we refreshed. Other than that, things looked pretty smooth.

Jesper 09 Feb 06

As someone who has primarily been an IRC user as far as “channel chatting” goes, I definitely appreciated the speed. Uploading looks nice - and is a real perk of the app. You can’t “upload to a channel” in IRC, and you have to resort to peer-to-peer DCC transfers to each one. I could easily see this being a boon to “real work meetings”, where you’d want to pass stuff around quickly.

The nickname autocompletion (for example, “/jes” at the beginning of a line would translate into “Jesper: ” at send) could be confused for IRC commands. It’s also not very obvious that it’s invoked when sent - you have this yellow tag with the expanded name sitting there, taunting you, and neither pressing tab nor clicking it will do anything. It’s definitely a good feature, but it seems a bit confusing, especially if you’re used to IRC-style commands.

Mentioned in the chat was also that the page stays “scrolled up” once you scroll up to look at the back-log, and I think this is correct behavior, otherwise it’d be impossible to look something up in busy chats. However, a small indicator to say “hey, there have been new lines in case you weren’t obsessively staring at the scroll bar’s thumb for small changes in size” would be nice - in terms of a recent post, this would very much be a 1.1 sort of thing.

All in all, it not just does the job but it’s responsive and pretty as well.

erwin blom 09 Feb 06

Autoscroll and uploading files does not work on my Mac (10.4.4) with Firefox but does work with Safari

gwg 09 Feb 06

“Latest Files” would be more informative if it were titled “Latest 3 Files” with a note that older files can be downloaded from the chat window.

The way it is now is confusing since I see lots of space for more “latest files”.

I also think that the username of the person uploading the file would be appropriate next to the file name. That way, I can decide if I trust it or not.

I understand that I’m probably only having a campfire with people I already know, but how about in 1.1?

erwin blom 09 Feb 06

And to be honest i don’t really see the added value to other chat-like-apps. You can chat with a group, you can exchange files, etcetera.

erwin blom 09 Feb 06

And to be honest i don’t really see the added value to other chat-like-apps. You can chat with a group, you can exchange files, etcetera.

Olav 09 Feb 06

Okay, what I’m seeing so far:

* Linebreaks and indents gets stripped. Not much of an development tool then..
* Textile or Markdown would be great!
* As an integrated part of Basecamp, this app would really shine.
* The file upload bit is the best part, since it’s more instant than other IM apps I’ve come across.
* While it works great, I don’t think it’s such a far a step from normal IM’ing that I would pay for it.

Other than that, this is great! Kind of like the definition of Ajax, wouldn’t you say? :)

Aaron Gustafson 09 Feb 06

I think I killed the uploader or the thumbnail generator when I tried to upload a really big GIF (big dimentionally, not in terms of filesize).

Dan Boland 09 Feb 06

�Latest Files� would be more informative if it were titled �Latest 3 Files� with a note that older files can be downloaded from the chat window.

The way it is now is confusing since I see lots of space for more �latest files�.

I said the same thing after the last test. I guess they don’t think it’s a big deal.

Drew Pickard 09 Feb 06

I’m not sure I understand the function of the auto-complete for the usernames

I start typing /Dre and I would get Drew Pickard
but if I hit enter - it just says “Drew Pickard:” and I don’t get to enter a message

It would be nice if there were a way to do soft returns in the input box, too - but I suppose that’s a browser/OS thing …

Christopher Ricca 09 Feb 06

It would be nice to be able to “upload” a file, but then be able to explicitly “post” it. Especially in a meeting setting, there would likely be a series of documents you expect to use, and then to be able to time the “release” of it would enhance the flow of the conversation. Why am I using “quotes” so much?

Chad Sakonchick 09 Feb 06

After playing around with it I don’t really see what the business model behind this is. Here are my $.02

It would be a fantastic addition to Basecamp. Show a list of everyone that is logged in to Basecamp then allow them to chat.

I really hate that I can’t scroll up to see what people are typing. I have to highlight the text to scroll up, if someone types something it forces me back to the bottom.

The text was extremely jumpy for me, it would work great, then I would be typing to myself for a while until I got a long stream of messages.

I like that it is web based, if I’m on vacation or somewhere I don’t have access to my machine I can still chat with people. Only problem with that is I can’t chat with anyone unless I send them an email and say, “meet me in campfire at 2pm your time on wednesday.”

Hopefully this was a test version and not real close to the live version. If what I used today is what Campfire will be, I can’t see any use for it other than in a corporate setting.

It’ll be interesting to see what the pricing structure is for this.

Anonymous Coward 09 Feb 06

“I can�t see any use for it other than in a corporate setting.”

umm, they’re calling it BUSINESS chat. it’s not for personal use, it’s for business use.

Matt Dempsey 09 Feb 06

I really really like it.

I’m not sure about the scrollbar though. It’s really cool and makes scrolling pretty, but I think it might be unpractical and would be better on the chat pane itself?

Also, there’s only 3 uploaded files, the rest of them are removed from that list and overwritten, is this done in the final thing? If so I think it might be too few.

Great job though, I hope I’d find a use for it.

Ben Askins 09 Feb 06

Would be a good addition to basecamp, particularly if it captured transcripts and associated them with the project.

Mathew Patterson 09 Feb 06

Ben’s hit a great point there - auto posting of the transcripts to the associated basecamp project would be a great time saving feature.

I had some trouble on Firefox 1.5, OSX with file uploads seeming to never end, with the animated bar whirring away forever.

Gayle 09 Feb 06

Autoscroll didn’t work, although I think my Firefox is out of date: 1.0.7. I should really upgrade that…

Loving the colours; agree that “latest files” should be longer; can’t wait for the real thing!

Eric J 09 Feb 06

I love it.

However, two things:

1. The Idle alert message in the chat pane is annoying an unnecessary. Put that status message in the “Who’s here” box next to the usernames. Don’t interrupt the flow of the chat with “username idle” messages.

2. Some have mentioned that when scrolling to read the old comments, a new comment will interrupt that scroll and jump down to the new comment. This probably can’t be fixed but it’s annoying.

I love the product. I will probably use it in whatever way it is when released (Fee or Free) but I just want to help you guys (37 Signals) make the absolutely best app possible. That’s my two cents on Campfire.

Chad Sakonchick 09 Feb 06

�I can�t see any use for it other than in a corporate setting.�

umm, they�re calling it BUSINESS chat. it�s not for personal use, it�s for business use.
-Anonymous Coward

What I meant was large corporate settings, not smaller companies that I believe the signals cater to. I can see a large company having a “virtual meeting” through this kind of product. However, having worked at a large corporation I also know that they won’t. Large companies and the types of people that work for them aren’t quick to change. They’ll have their meetings, their conference calls and chat on their existing IM even though this product would work better for them. Factoring the large companies that could take advantage of it but won’t. Then the smaller companies that aren’t being offered anything different than what they already have, I’m going to go out on a limb and say this product is going to be a flop.

I think 37signals is great at making really complicated software easier to use. IM isn’t complicated.

PDHoss 09 Feb 06

http urls autolink, how about ftp? Seems to make sense in context.

Matt 09 Feb 06


Where should we send bugs to?


PDHoss 09 Feb 06

Also Ctrl-C on text of chat seems a little not-working. I like to grab text from chats, especially chunks of code.

Ryan Schroedre 09 Feb 06

cmd-C works for me in safari, but not in FF. same w/ the right click menu. in FF the cursor seems to remain in the text field.

PDHoss 09 Feb 06

This wants to be a module in an upcoming Rails release. How cool would that be? An out-of-the-box per-site IM client for tech support, sales assistance, etc. G-narly.

Per Melin 09 Feb 06

A few errors in screen.css.

line 1148:
Unknown property ‘text-wrap’. Declaration dropped.

line 1304:
Error in parsing value for property ‘line-height’. Declaration dropped.

line 2003 and 2012:
Error in parsing value for property ‘background-position’. Declaration dropped.

Brandon 09 Feb 06

“2. Some have mentioned that when scrolling to read the old comments, a new comment will interrupt that scroll and jump down to the new comment. This probably can�t be fixed but it�s annoying.”

I second that, it is very annoying.

Paul 09 Feb 06

It was nice meeting all of you on Campfire!

Good luck everyone!

Erica B. 09 Feb 06

I’d prefer to see the scrollbar on the actual chat pane as well.

Anthony Brown 09 Feb 06

Thanks for let us play with Campfire.

I think my items were already mentioned, but here goes:

  • The ability to “stage” files after upload (so that you control when they are delivered to the chat window, and to give users the chance to deliver multiple times)

  • “username” idle was annoying
  • ability for the transcripts to be used in basecamp, or even downloaded from the chat window
  • I understand the reasoning behind the scrolling…but its still a little awkward
  • Anthony Brown 09 Feb 06

    Oops! Sorry about the list tags..

    Don Wilson 09 Feb 06

    Continuous refreshing until I get in. O_o

    Tumble 09 Feb 06

    I want a cancel button for the upload
    I don’t like that the scrollbar is so far from the scrolling content
    On FF WinXP, the automatic scrolling wasn’t keeping up with the actual page, the lines tended to slowly slip away and creep.
    I rarely saw my files i uploaded get properly posted inline
    I sometimes saw the timestamps two of three times in a row
    There *really* needs to be some sort of formatting, Textile or Markdown.
    If I have scrolled up, and I then post something, it should jump to to my comment (the last row)

    jason 09 Feb 06

    I’m having the “Sorry, we can’t let you in right now” error as well… 9:54pm EST.

    gwg 09 Feb 06

    Cancel file uploads. I’d forgotten that bit. I agree that it’s a near must. If I accidentally select a 100MB PSD, I need to be able to save my butt.

    Paul 09 Feb 06

    They’ve ended the test, hence the error of not being let in.

    MMI 09 Feb 06

    “Line 1304:
    Error in parsing value for property �line-height�. Declaration dropped.”

    This is a bug within the validator, its usually preferred in most cases to not have any type of units on line height. There’s a bug report floating around, to get them to fix it in the validator… I’m just to lazy to go looking for it right now.

    Hunter 10 Feb 06

    We use IM with our customers but I still see this as being way useful. Here’s how we would use it:

    Hunter to Customer: Come and meet my team in the campfire room to discuss the new comps for the news page.

    Everyone logs in - note: we didn’t have to coordinate IM clients, figure out firewalls, etc…

    We’re all in the campfire room. We talk about the new page. We look at inline screenshots. We get the feature under control.

    Two weeks later when the programmer goes to actually implement, he looks at the automatic transcript which (I hope) is now part of the Basecamp project. Wowzers, it’s all there.

    Think of this as 37signals building a virtual conference room for small businesses - a place where we can actually get some work done.

    erwin blom 10 Feb 06

    Hunter, you’re right. Now i understand ;-)


    eh 10 Feb 06

    looks like google is eating your lunch. tough break. happened with dave winer but he managed to survive just fine, so don’t worry too much.

    Mike 10 Feb 06

    I loved the test, especially the image preview upon upload. A few things:

    -the timetracker was set on Chicago time. It would be helpful if that could be changed to different time zones or GMT in case multiple chatters are in multiple time zones (or even better, allow user to set gtime zone upon entering chat).
    -The truncating of names to “Mike K.” instead of full last name. Being named Mike, you realize that there are usually a couple of other Mikes in an office.

    Chris 10 Feb 06

    Having not participated in any of the Campfire tests, I’d like to play devil’s advocate and ask why I or anyone else might use Campfire over something like Netmeeting/GnomeMeeting or Groove Virtual Office?

    Chip Ramsey 10 Feb 06

    Everything worked as advertised. Simple business communication tool that will be well suited for project discussions (i.e. integration into Basecamp).

    File upload with thumbnails was a nice touch. Very clean interface, similar to your other apps. I like the idea of personal messages within the main chat window (I’m assuming that was what the / was all about). Keeps the clutter down.

    Suggestions for v1.0:
    1) I have to jump on the scroll bar band-wagon. It seemed to stutter as I scrolled up to look at the history. I was also unsure when I was back to seeing the live chat. I think an easy way to solve this issue would be to have a button like “Return to Chat” that would be grayed out until you manually scroll up to view the history. To jump back to the bottom of the scroll window and turn auto scrolling back on, the user could just click the button, which would then return to it’s grayed out state.
    2) I don’t remember seeing any shortcut descriptions, but it would be useful to list and describe them somewhere on the page. (e.g. / Send private message).
    3) I was also initially confused by the file download list on the right. I think the previously suggested “Latest three files” description with a note that past files can be downloaded from the chat history was a good idea.

    Well, once again, very nice app. Your development work has payed off. Good luck with the launch!

    c-hack 10 Feb 06

    I’m not sure about the utility of this tool in my own life but….no one has said anything about the name. Campfire is a FANTASTIC moniker for this thing.

    brad 10 Feb 06

    Chris wrote: Having not participated in any of the Campfire tests, I�d like to play devil�s advocate and ask why I or anyone else might use Campfire over something like Netmeeting/GnomeMeeting or Groove Virtual Office?

    No software to download and totally cross-platform, and allows people who normally use different incompatible IM clients to communicate via IM. I was just in a situation where Campfire would have come in handy: I use iChat (which works with AIM); the rest of my company uses Microsoft Messenger, and the client I was working with doesn’t have any IM software at all. We were working on some extremely urgent updates to a web site and while I was able to communicate by IM with one of my colleagues, we had to call our client or email her whenever things were ready for review. It would have happened faster if she’d been able to be on IM with us.

    Jimmy 10 Feb 06

    So when do we get paid for beta testing your application?

    Dhrumil 10 Feb 06

    Haha, I was waiting for that troll cap to come out.

    Great work on campfire. I tested it yesterday and was totally feeling the simplicity. I can’t wait till Compass links everything together.

    z 12 Feb 06

    i certainly agree that this would be a great addition to basecamp as well as a stand alone product. i’m posting this after seeing screenshot and movie in the next blog post, and have to say this is an absolutely great product and you have one subscriber (me) anxiously waiting (as well as i’m sure many more). great great stuff!