My thoughts on Basecamp

Basecamp's Logo

For the last few months I have been using basecamp to coordinate and communicate with my group for a (rather large) piece of coursework. I've had a reasonable amount of time to get used to basecamp and how it works, so (upon request) I thought that I would share thoughts on it here.

To start with, the summary page gives a quick overview of what has been going on recently, without giving you that feeling of information overload. The discussions are good too - they are arranged in chronological order with the avatar of the most recent commenter next to each post. The files section is ok, but it feels rather cluttered and would be more helpful if you could upload a new version of someone else's file.

The problems start in the "To-do lists" section. You can create multiple lists of items, but you can't create subtasks or tasks that depend on other tasks. This makes basecamp rather unsuitable for software development as I often find that in order to fix one issue I have to fix another first. I also like to categorise my todos (which basecamp doesn't support either) - GitHub issues do this very well. The ability to assign multiple people to a task would also make working in a group much easier. I also found that once I'd created a few todo items, it quickly got to the point where I couldn't tell them apart - it just looked like a big wall of text, but that is probably just me.

The last thing I haven't mentioned yet is the events tab. Here you can create events and have basecamp automatically email (optionally selected) people, which is nice, but a special field to specify the location of the event would be welcomed as I found in my group that the venue of our meetings kept changing. A number of different views on the calendar would make it even better - the month view displays too much time, and I always get times mixed in the agenda view.

To conclude, Basecamp is a good project management tool that you can use when working in a group, but is still a bit rough around the edges. I wouldn't use it for software development, but I'm not ruling it out for other kinds of projects (although I think that trello would probably better float my boat, depending on the situation).

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