A lot of people over the years have asked us how we use Basecamp to manage our projects and collaborate at 37signals.

Knocking down the wall

We’ve given tours, we’ve shown screenshots, we’ve shared excerpts, but that’s like peering through a tiny hole in the wall. You’d have a much better view if there was no wall at all.

So we built in a special feature that’s unique to our Basecamp account that allows us to make one of our projects completely public. It’s read-only, it can’t be changed, but you can see all the discussions, to-dos, files, etc., just as they happened.

The project

Whenever we work on a new feature in Basecamp, we create a new Basecamp project. We keep all the discussions, to-do lists, assignments, relevant files, relevant text docs/notes, and any related schedules in the project.

Recently we added the ability to export your Basecamp projects and files into a tidy, self-contained web site you can download to your computer and view in your web browser. This way you can take your data with you, make a backup, or send a copy to a client.

So to get started we created a new project in Basecamp called “BCX: Exporting”. Note: We put “BCX” in front of any new project that’s related to the all new Basecamp. This way, at a glance, we know that this project is for this product, and not for something else we’re working on.

Here’s a link to that project.

You can see all the discussions we had around the export feature. Here’s a meaty discussion (38 comments) that involved ops, dev, and data. And for the designers/writers out there, here’s a design discussion about a specific to-do.

Every file and screenshot we shared in this project is stored on a single page. And you can see a list of every to-do we completed before deploying the feature.

And if you want to see exactly what happened, day-by-day, check out the super-useful Catch Up view. You can step back in time, one page/day at a time. For example, May 22nd was a particularly busy day with 10 people contributing feedback to the project. And May 9th saw a nice handful of important to-dos completed by Jeff.

Lastly, here’s an FAQ that Jeff put together for the support team. It’s super helpful to use Basecamp Text Documents for things like this.

More public projects soon

We hope a look at one of our real Basecamp projects helped give you an idea how we use Basecamp to centralize discussions, files, to-dos, and decisions.

We’ll be opening up more of our projects to public view in the coming weeks. We’ll share different kinds of projects too – some heavier on the design side, some heavier on tech, etc.

After seeing this, do you have any questions about how we use Basecamp? We’d be happy to share any tips/tricks or best practices we’ve come up with along the way.