Backpack Grows Up

Today we unveil the major updates to Backpack we’ve been blogging about over the past week. We’ve been working on these for months and are excited to finally let them loose.

The Intranet Is Back(pack)

Intranets were big five years ago, but fell out of favor because of they were too hard to use. Back when we did client work we were hired to “repair” a number of intranets. They were a mess.

No matter the company, people’s goals were similar: They just wanted to share common information across their organization, keep a simple shared calendar so they knew when their co-workers would be out of town or at a meeting, make an announcement or two, and grab a few important files here and there. Simple things, right?

But man, the systems they were forced to use would confuse Mensans. They weren’t intranets, they were mazes. Clicks to who knows where. Clicks to nowhere. When something is too hard to use people don’t use it. No one used these intranets.

Backpack brings the promise of the intranet back and delivers real value by keeping things simple. Now you can easily share information, files, and a calendar across your company.

And for those who don’t need a company intranet, Backpack remains the same familiar personal intranet it’s always been. A place to organize your thoughts, ideas, to-dos, notes, files, calendar, and reminders.

Here’s a list of what’s new:

1. Multiuser

Since we launched Backpack in May of 2005, Backpack has been a single-user product. You could share pages via email, but you were the only person who could log into your account to make pages, add calendar items, set reminders, etc. Backpack has been our only single-user commercial product. It’s time for it to grow up and branch out.

People have been asking us how they could use Backpack to easily share information and knowledge with their co-workers, group members, or organization. They’ve wanted to use Backpack as an intranet, but they were turned away because it was single-user. The answer is multiuser.

We have a new set of subscription plans that allow you to add from 3 to 100 users to your account. Now you can use Backpack as the small business tool it’s always dreamed of being. Or, you can stick with your current plan and keep Backpack to yourself. It’s your call. If you already have an account just log in and click the Account tab to see your upgrade options.

1a. What happens to existing customers?

There’s been a lot of speculation about what multiuser means for people who are happy using the good old single-user version of Backpack they’re used to.

The short answer: Backpack can still be used exactly the same way for the same price (or less). We appreciate the fact that you’re currently satisfied with Backpack. We want to keep you happy.

Here’s how the changes will work:

  • Backpack customers who were on the old $5/month Basic plan will be grandfathered on the $5/month plan (which will no longer be offered to new customers). Same price, same specs. Nothing changes. And now for just $2/month more grandfathered customers can upgrade to the new Solo plan. Just log in, click the Account tab, and upgrade to Solo or any other plan you’d like.
  • Backpack customers who were on the old $9/month Plus plan will be moved to the new $7/month Solo plan. It’s the same specs but you’ll save $2/month. More on the new Solo plan below.
  • Backpack customers who were on the old $14/month Premium plan will be moved to the new $12/month Home plan which includes 3 users. Old premium customers will also keep their 1000 page limit (Home is normally limited at 100 pages). Even though the Home plan doesn’t include SSL encryption, folks who were on the old Premium plan which did include SSL will also get SSL on their Home plan.

2. Flying Solo

We’ve condensed the old single-user plans into one new plan called the Solo plan. The Solo plan is perfect if you just want to use Backpack alone to organize your own stuff. The Solo plan includes a single user, 100 pages, the calendar, SSL, and 1 GB file storage. The plan is priced at only $7/month (this is actually $2/month less than the old Plus plan that it replaces). The Solo plan becomes the new entry level Backpack plan.

3. Calendar updates

If you have a multiuser Backpack plan you can now share the calendar with your co-workers. You can see each others schedules and who’s available when. The calendar is color coded to make it easy to spot each person’s appointments.

Also new in this update is the ability to toggle a calendar on or off. Just click the checkbox in front of the calendar name to toggle the visibility.

Finally, since you can share calendars you may also want to keep some of those calendars private. No problem. When you credit or edit a calendar you can decide who can see it.

Read more about the Backpack Calendar on our weblog or watch a video demo of the Backpack Calendar.

4. Newsroom

When you have two or more users in your account you’ll see a tab called Newsroom. The Newsroom tab gives you an overview of the major activity in your account. You can see who created a page, who changed a page, who added a calendar event, etc. People on single-user plans (“Grandfathered” account and “Solo” accounts) will not see the Newsroom tab. Upgrading to a multiuser plan, and adding another user to your account, will unlock this feature.

Take a tour of the Newsroom.

5. Messages

Customers on Basic or higher plans will see a new feature called Messages at the top of the Newsroom. Emailing multiple people back and forth gets messy real quick. Backpack’s message board cleans up your communications by centralizing discussions. Post a message and other people can comment. Clean, organized, and all in one place. No more endless email threads.

Watch a video overview of the new Messages feature.

6. Multiuser Reminders

Folks on the multiuser plans will notice they can also assign reminders to other people on their account. Reminders also get a new “Now” option if you just can’t wait. And since Backpack reminders can be sent as text messages to mobile phones, Reminders become a great way to make a quick announcement to multiple people in the field.

Watch a video overview of the Reminders section.

There’s more to check out…

We’ve updated the examples page with some new inspiration on how you can use Backpack in your business. We’ve also updated the tour to include screenshots and videos of the latest features. And for those who’ve never made a Backpack Page before, check out how easy it is.

We hope you love it

We’re really excited about the new stuff in Backpack. Multiuser, an updated calendar, the new Newsroom and Messages section, updated reminders, and a pile of other small updates and optimizations.

We hope you find the changes useful and valuable. Thanks again for your support and happy Backpacking!

Special $5-off offer

Use coupon code SVNLAUNCH when signing up or upgrading your account to save $5 on your next Backpack bill.