Top 3 annoying things in Basecamp

Top 3 annoying things in Basecamp

“It’s simple for us and it’s simple for clients” cried Željko Prša, our frontend developer over a year ago in our first Ask a developer episode. Our clients know that we use Basecamp as our collaboration tools because of its simplicity and the fact that clients get familiar with it in a short time. However, we really miss some of the simple features that would improve usability a lot.

  1. Ability to sort messages by last comment date
    When the project is created and there are few introduction message, it all looks fine. However, even on medium sizes ones where there are few people from clients side and few team members on yours, you end up having many open topics quite quickly. You can see the latest activity on your Overview screen, but that one can also get populated in a day or two. Such communication on many different topics makes Basecamp difficult to use as finding a topic where something was discussed can be quite hard. Simple feature to sort the message by latest added comment would be invaluable. It is common feature in every forum and similar app and it would surely be nice to see it here.
  2. Ability for user to archive topic
    Those damn topic topic list can get crowded in no time. Some topics just stand there because client opened it to ask a question. Soon enough you realize that most of them stand in the way of important ones. I would really welcome the possibility to Archive a topic in a similar fashion you can Archive a Google email. You remove it from the main list and you an still access it from some “Archived topics” link later.
  3. Ability to “Star” a topic
    This is a feature I would also steal from Google Mail. All the topics in Basecamp look the same and staring some would make few of choice easily spottable. Each user should be able to star the topics of preference.

Basecamp is a great tool that works like charm on a smaller projects. On a larger ones it requires a lot of discipline both from yours and clients side in order to avoid chaos and mess. With this in mind, project manager should carefully set the milestones, todo lists and todos in order to pull the maximum from Basecamp. All the people involved in communication should spend 2-3 extra seconds to think where some question, query, idea or statement should be written before opening new topic in Messages tab.

What communication tool do you use? If Basecamp, do you have some suggestions for improvements?

I hope the 37signals team will read this and contribute to the discussion.


You made it all the way down here so you must have enjoyed this post! You may also like:

Installation and configuration of local Mail server for Windows (hMail Server) Nikola Stojiljkovic
Nikola Stojiljkovic, | 20

Installation and configuration of local Mail server for Windows (hMail Server)

Unit testing with Zend framework: Setting up environment for the first test using Netbeans IDE for php Darko Goles
Darko Goles, | 1

Unit testing with Zend framework: Setting up environment for the first test using Netbeans IDE for php

Handling options injection in “select” element by Ext.js Iva Korlevic
Iva Korlevic, | 1

Handling options injection in “select” element by Ext.js


  1. We have used basecamp earlier for projct management but after we started facing some of the similar glitches, we decided to switch to another tool. Now we are using Proofhub for our projects since the past few months. Its a really good tool, which covers nearly all the important features we have been looking for ever since we felt the need for a project management tool. Also, we were able to import all our projects from basecamp to proofhub quite easily. So far using proofhub has been a great experience and it has made things much easier.

  2. Hi Dina,

    Thank you for admitting you are working for them. In my opinion, LiquidPlanner is good. It lacks the simplicity of Basecamp, but I agree it is better for larger projects.

  3. These are some of the same issues I have with Basecamp. Once the project grows, the messages become unwieldy and hard to keep organized. One of the (many) things I love about LiquidPlanner is that it makes it very easy and simple to keep messages organized by task, project subfolder or main project folder. So, you’ll always be able to find the message you’re looking for because it will be organized properly.
    (Note: I am hired by LiquidPlanner to spread lots of love for them online but I was a very happy user of the system beforehand)

  4. I’m pretty sure both those posts were triggered by a google alert. After all; you gave them free advertising

  5. Guido,

    We know a guy behind ActiveCollab, I met him in person several times. It is a great tool as well, I remember it from the early stages 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <s> <strike> <strong>. You may use following syntax for source code: <pre><code>$current = "Inchoo";</code></pre>.

Tell us about your project

Drop us a line. We'd love to know more about your project.