How about fixing the workplace rather than avoiding it at 4am?

Oh those superhuman CEOs who get up at 4am for that killer start to the day! Aren’t they just amazing? Such sacrifice, such grit, such tenacity.

Such fucking bullshit.

If you’re the CEO, and you can’t get work done at work, you only have one person to blame for it: Yourself. There’s no law of nature that dictates that it should be impossible to get deep work done at 11am or 2pm, just habits, values, and policies.

It’s your job to fix the damn workplace, not run away from it. Stop playing calendar Tetris with a whole organization. Stop loading up on meetings. Stop demanding endless status reports. Stop interrupting everyone all the time with shit that can wait.

Organizational dysfunction, such as the inability to get work done at work during regular work hours, is a reflection of executive habits and beliefs. Work isn’t crazy because of the nature of its being. Work is crazy because you’re making it crazy!

But it’s hard to fix that which you don’t know is broken. So let me spell it out: Having to get up at 4am to get real work done is broken. Busted. Kaput.

And it isn’t any less broken because a fawning business media keeps exalting the virtues of your morning routine or strict regiment. Quite contraire.

You know what’s cool? Getting to work at 9, putting in eight solid hours, and then being done by 5. There’s nothing stodgy or uncool about having reasonable work day that allows for a workout at 7:30am or playing with your kids at 5:30pm.

There’s no prize for being the first to rise. You’re not a fucking bird and there ain’t no fucking worm. So chill. Set a good example for your organization. Make calm a mission. Start getting work done at work again.

New in Basecamp: Sort the Message Board

Basecamp 3’s Message Board is a central place for your team to post updates and gather feedback on the record. It’s great for announcements, internal pitches, and just bouncing ideas back and forth.

Since Basecamp 3 first launched, the Message Board has been sorted so new posts appear at the top with older ones below. That’s great most of the time, but many of you have asked for other ways to sort your posts.

New ways to sort

With this update, we’ve added a new sort order setting to Basecamp 3’s Message Boards. You can access this setting on your computer, tablet, or phone from the menu in the upper right corner of the Message Board:


Now, you can sort your posts three ways:

  1. By original post date: Messages posted recently will always be shown first. This is still the default setting.
  2. By latest comment: Messages with new comments be shown first. This keeps the most active discussions right up at the top.
  3. Alphabetically A-Z: Messages will be sorted based on their title. If you use the Message Board like a table of contents for your team or company, this option will come in handy.

Applies to everyone on the project

Whatever you choose, this will affect everyone on the project. That way, everyone will know where to put things and where to find things—you’ll all see posts in the same order.

Different projects, different settings

Each project has its own setting. If you prefer organizing your Company HQ alphabetically, your client projects by latest comment, and your marketing team by original post date that’ll work great!

What’s more, Message Board posts on your project’s home screen will remember your sort order, too:

The Message Board card, sorted alphabetically

That’s it!

We hope this update gives you more flexibility and makes the Basecamp Message Board even more useful. Let us know what you think!


Curious how we build features like this while working sane, 40-hour weeks? Be sure to check out our new book: It Doesn’t Have To Be Crazy At Work.

Working in quality time instead of clock time


One of the things I love about our flexible work environment at Basecamp is the freedom to step away from something whenever I need to.

Right now I’m exploring designs for a new product idea. R&D work like this depends on having good mental and emotional energy. Sometimes you have it, sometimes you don’t.

When you’re energetic and motivated, great things happen spontaneously, in unpredictable bursts of inspiration.

But when you’re tired, distracted, or in the weeds on something, it’s usually better to stop working. Just admit (temporary) defeat and give yourself a chance to regroup. Do something else that’s less taxing, or call it quits and start again later.

I always find this difficult to do, because the working world tells us that full-time employees should put in 8+ consecutive hours no matter what. So what if you’re frustrated, burned out, or not making much progress? Too bad, gotta punch the clock! Back to the grind! Grind it out!

The problem is, grinding it out is counterproductive for creative work, because creativity doesn’t happen on a linear time scale. Forcing it usually makes things worse. If you drain your human gas tank all the way to empty, you’ll get even more burned out. And then your bad mood and low energy spills over to another workday, prolonging the creative drought.

Don’t do that! Walk away instead, and leave it for your future, better self to look at with fresh eyes.

Then start thinking about productivity in terms of quality time instead of clock time. You might end up making the same progress with only 20 energetic hours that you would have made in 60 tired hours.

Once you get in the habit of that, you can optimize your schedule around your own energy and enthusiasm. I’m usually at my creative peak in the mid-morning and lose steam after lunch, so I shuffle my work accordingly. I do exploratory freeform stuff in the morning, and I save routine tasks (like implementing something I already know how to do) for the afternoon. I also have a rather short attention span, so I take tiny breaks a lot.

Your schedule might be the opposite. But whatever it is, give yourself the freedom to go with the flow, or shut off the flow altogether. Some days suck and you have to cut your losses. Other times you just need to walk away for 20 minutes to get a flash of inspiration.

The key is to be self-aware and completely flexible about time. Dump the clock. You’ll be much happier and more effective, and your work will still get done in the end.

Oh by the way, we have a new book about this sort of thing! Check out It Doesn’t Have To Be Crazy At Work.

Illustrating “It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work”

Take a look behind the scenes at the illustration process for Jason Fried and DHH’s new book, “It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work.

Back story

Every essay in Jason and David’s previous titles, REWORK and REMOTE is accompanied by an illustration that captures the key message of the essay. Contract llustrator Mike Rohde’s iconic original art perfectly compliments the irreverent and contrarian tone of the books. We love the format and it has worked well for us but when it came time to design the new book, Jason was eager to try something new. He reached out to the Basecamp team for fresh ideas.

Jason’s post in Basecamp from February 2018

At the time the working title of the book was The Calm Company, which was less provocative but perfectly captured the kind of company we want to have here at Basecamp—the kind of company prescribed in the book. Jason had already asked our team to pitch ideas for the jacket design and with two best-selling books behind us there was a sense that we could take even more of the production in-house. Having already contributed some spot illustrations to Basecamp’s marketing in recent years, I eagerly started work on concepts for It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work.

The concept

From the onset, I felt pretty strongly that the illustrations could be valuable content in themselves rather than simply complimenting the text. So I explored ideas that featured a running narrative that could tell a parallel story of a company that’s anything but calm. I considered graphic novel style spreads, comic strips and even something like Sergio Aragones’ “marginals” in Mad Magazine. I also explored ideas in the style of cartoons in the New Yorker that wouldn’t directly relate to the essays but would be satirical vignettes of situations where it’s crazy at work.

Here are the original sketches I shared with Jason and Basecamp marketing designer, Adam Stoddard, a few weeks later in a video call.




Original sketches pitched to the team in April

I pitched each of these ideas but it was the sketch featuring a blurb about Charles Darwin that we found ourselves most excited about. I had remembered reading an article about Darwin’s daily routine several months before and that had sparked the idea to feature famous people—both current and historical—who had done great things without embracing the extreme work habits that are so often praised today. The illustrations would introduce these figures to readers, reinforcing that it truly doesn’t have to be this way. After all, if Darwin could write one of the most important works in modern science working only 3 hours a day whatever you’re spending 80+ hours a week doing probably isn’t quite as important. So I ran with the concept enlisting our own Wailin Wong to identify, research, and write the blurb for each figure.

We had a tight deadline—only about 60 days from concept to delivery of the final art—so I got right to work exploring visual styles. Modern illustration, especially in the tech world, seems uniformly clean and over-simple so I knew I wanted to try something more unrefined and irreverent. I also had the sense that these should be draw by hand with real materials. Partly for practical reasons like printing at high resolution but also so that the original art would actually exist for posterity. Maybe we’d frame and display them in our office or give them away. So I explored several approaches that shared a loose, rough feel and Adam popped them into the interior layouts he’d been working on.





Style explorations using Charles Darwin as our prototype

They ranged from just bad to outright weird but the idea seemed to be taking shape. I especially liked the ones that were in a more editorial cartoon style and include a prop or other visual gag (such as Darwin’s iguana) but these illustrations needed to feel like a consistent set and I was concerned about finding equally interesting themes for 20+ figures. We decided the more realistic, but slightly unhinged portrait (second row, left) was the way forward. As a final proof of concept I drew two additional subjects from our list in the same style and we submitted the idea to the publisher.



Three illustration spreads presented to our publisher. Interesting note: all three of these subjects made it into the book but I redrew each of them because the style evolved as I worked.

Production

With approval in-hand I got down to work. How many illustrations would ultimately appear in the book depended, in part, on the final page imposition. We hoped for at least 12 but I drew about twice that many so we were ready if there was room for more and so that there was some opportunity for editorial changes. That meant I had to average about one finished illustration per day to meet the deadline—oh and still leave enough time for my normal work.

At first I started splitting my days in half. In the mornings I’d do my normal design work at Basecamp and then I’d switch gears and work on illustrations for the book in the afternoons. This didn’t work out well at all. For one thing, it was easy to let the morning’s work spill over into the early (or late ) afternoon. It was also really difficult to switch between such different tasks. To boost my output and provide less frequent context switching I tried splitting my week into two parts: two days on product design and two on illustration. It was better but I still wasn’t working at full speed. Things only kicked into high gear once I decided to go all-in on drawing and fully immerse myself in the project, ignoring everything else. How much difference did it make? In the first 10 days of the project I did 7 pieces. In the last 6 full-time days I completed 17! Even though it meant putting my regular work on hold for a few days, ultimately by focusing intently I finished the work far ahead of schedule and spent less time than I anticipated overall.

The Process

Since the art would be printed in black and white in the book, I settled on ink and paper for the original art. Even though it would be hand-drawn on paper, I actually did my rough sketching digitally with Procreate on iPad Pro. Why? Speed. Working digitally meant I could easily erase, redraw, resize, move, stretch, copy and skew my drawing as I refined each sketch. Nose, too big; eyes too small? It’s just a matter of seleting and resizing instead of erasing and drawing again. What I could do in seconds with the tools in Procreate would have required dozens on redraws on paper.


Rough sketch of Stephen Hawking with Procreate on iPad Pro (left). This time-lapse recording of Gustav Mahler shows the quick editing digital sketching affords (right)

Drawing portraits of people you don’t know and can’t observe in-person is a tricky thing to do so I had to gather publicly available image references for each figure. Google Images was instrumental in this, in particular because it allowed me to see many images of a person all together. Studying a subject from many angles, in different situations, and even at different times in their lives allowed me to create exactly the portrait I imagined for each person.


Sketching on iPad Pro, allowed me to keep reference images from Google Image search (left) visible while I drew using the split-screen feature (right)

The portraits of Maya Angelou and Stephen Hawking are examples of this that I’m particularly proud of. I had a pretty clear idea going in about how I wanted to represent them and a wide range of reference photos of these well-known figures gave me all the image data I needed. In both cases the final piece is a somewhat ageless portrait that represents their character without recalling a particular, recognizable moment in their lives. I found that the younger reference images didn’t have enough character, but the images in their later years exaggerated their features in a way that helped me understand them better. The final art is more like a set of caricatures than serious portraits.

After completing the rough sketch, I would resize it for consistency and print it out. Then using a classic technique, I’d transfer the image to paper for inking. This made the task of drawing a set of 20+ images at a consistent size and laid-out nicely on the final page mistake-free. If you’ve ever drawn something starting in the middle only to run off the edge of the paper, you know what I mean!



Transferring an image: first I covered the back of the print-out with graphite (left), then laid it down on the final paper and traced over the lines causing the graphite to transfer onto the paper (middle), that left a light pencil outline perfectly placed on the final medium (right)

The last step was to do the final drawing in ink using my transferred sketch as a guide. I used Speedball Super Black india ink with Speedball calligraphy pen nibs and holders on 11 × 14 Canson Bristol Vellum. Splatters were added with ink flicked from the britles of a stiff paintbrush.





Drawing in ink

This project was unlike anything else I’ve attempted. All said, I completed 25 drawings, 18 of which appear in the first print and e-book editions of It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work. I’m incredibly proud of the project and even more grateful for the opportunity Jason and David gave me to contribute to this wonderful book that speaks so clearly about how we work. In fact, the entire project was done almost entirely in-house at Basecamp. It was written by Jason Fried (CEO) and David Heinemeier Hansson (CTO), jacket design and interior design by Adam Stoddard (marketing designer), illustrations by me, Jason Zimdars (product designer), and research by Wailin Wong (producer of The REWORK podcast).



Final spreads (designed by Adam Stoddard) including a new rendering of our friend Charles Darwin (left), THE OPRAH, and a photo of the first print edition (right)

It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work

I did this work at Basecamp where 40 hour work weeks are the norm, no one checks email on the weekend, and our benefits are focused on getting people out of the office, not enticing them to stay longer. We’ve stepped out of the hustle game in Silicon Valley and designed our company differently. This book will show how you can have a calm company too.


It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work is available October 2, 2018 in hardcover, e-book, and audiobook. Order now at Amazon.com or most anywhere you buy books.

New in Basecamp 3: Image Galleries

At Basecamp, we write a lot—from announcements to pitches, and everything in between.

Quite often, we’re presenting something that has a Before and After, like a mockup or interface design that’s been revised. Until now, this was always kind of frustrating. Basecamp only supported full-width images, so it could be difficult to quickly compare two images at once.

Today we’ve added support for side-by-side image galleries inside written posts!

This is a subtle but substantial change: galleries support and enhance your writing by making it more fluid, expressive, and precise. They’re great for sharing screenshots, comparisons, mockups, sketches, photos, and so on.

Here’s how it works.

Creating a Gallery

In any rich text field in Basecamp 3, you can make a gallery of images by uploading multiple images at the same time. You can do that in the file-browser dialog, or by dragging and dropping files into Basecamp directly.

Dragging images to make a gallery

When you do that, Basecamp will automatically group the images together in a nice arrangement. There are a few different layouts based on the number of images you’ve posted together.

If you upload two images at once, they’ll be oriented side by side.


If you upload three images at once, they’ll be shown 3-up in a row.


If you upload four images at once, you get a 2×2 grid.


And then finally, if you upload 5 or more images, they’ll be arranged in 3-up-sized rows.


You can also make a gallery by uploading images one by one. Just upload one image, then immediately upload another. Basecamp will notice that the images are directly adjacent and bundle them for you.

Adjusting a Gallery

If you don’t want the gallery layout, you can split it up by putting your cursor between images and hitting return. That will break up the gallery at that spot and resize things accordingly.

If you prefer a different arrangement (for example, maybe the second image should be first) you can drag and drop them to reorder.

You can also drag and drop images outside of galleries into galleries, and vice-versa.

It all works like you’d expect images in a text editor to work!

Related Changes

New toolbar for images

Clicking on attachments in Basecamp’s text editor has changed a bit. You’ll now see a balloon at the top that shows the file name, size, and the trash button. (Formerly this was just a trash button.)

New attachment toolbar

A more prominent caption field

Did you know you can write custom captions for any image you upload in Basecamp? If you didn’t, you’re not alone! This feature used to be rather hidden, but we coaxed it out of its hiding place.

Now just click on any image in the editor and you’ll see the Add a caption… field at the bottom. Click on that to type any caption you like.

This is a caption for the picture that shows adding a caption. 🌀

Popup menus on gallery images

Every image in a gallery has a small ••• menu adjacent to the caption. Click that and you’ll see a popup with the original file name and file size, plus links to download the image, or view it at full size.

Popup menu for details

That’s it!

Galleries work everywhere right now, in our mobile apps and on the desktop. We hope this update helps you create richer posts, and makes writing in Basecamp a little more enjoyable. Let us know how you like it!


New to Basecamp? Head on over to basecamp.com and see what it’s all about.

What’s New in Basecamp 3.9.3 for iOS

The newest release introduces a brand new tab along with improvements to searching, navigation, and for people who have multiple accounts. Get it for iPhone and iPad in the App Store today. Read-on for details about what’s new…

New Me tab!

We know that My Assignments is one of the most popular screens in Basecamp on all platforms but it can be hard to find. Now My Assignments and the rest of My Stuff are easier to reach on the new Me tab. It also includes your Bookmarks and app Settings.

Introducing the brand new Me tab, a place to find all your stuff and settings.

New Activity view switcher

Gone is the old Activity | Reports toggle. Basecamp now has a nice switcher to change between activity views more akin to web and mobile web. It’s easier to see what you’re currently looking at and you now stay on the same screen rather than navigating forward.

Tap the switcher at the top to choose a different activity view.

Before you search…

Looking for something in Basecamp? Pop on over to Find to see your Recently Visited places and Recent Searches, too. We hope that with this change, Basecamp helps surface what you might be looking for before you search.

Pick something recent (left) or search everywhere (right).

Better support for multiple accounts

If you have multiple Basecamp accounts, this one is for you. Now the name of the current account is prominently displayed at the top of Home and Hey. Tap it to switch to a different account.

Tap the account name to switch to another account (left). Pull-down slightly to reveal the project filter and view toggle.

Opening links

This is a small change but now when you tap an external link in Basecamp it’ll open with a Safari view right inside Basecamp rather than opening the Safari app. You may have seen this in Twitter and other popular apps already. Now it’s so much easier to get back to where you were in Basecamp when you’re done reading.

External links now open inside Basecamp with a SafariViewController.

Thanks for using Basecamp!

As always, please keep suggestions, feedback, and bug reports coming our way. If you’re interesting in seeing new features before everyone else, we have a few openings left in our private beta. Send us an email and we’ll get you invited.

❤️📱 The iOS Team at Basecamp, 
Tara Mann, Dylan Ginsburg, Zach Waugh, and me.

New in Basecamp: See where projects really stand with the Hill Chart

For years we’ve used Basecamp To-Dos to track all of our design and programming work here at Basecamp. They help us make sure that nothing slips through the cracks.

However, for some projects, tracking to-dos isn’t enough. When you have dozens or hundreds of tasks, you need a way to see the bigger picture. Is the project going to be done on time? Are we making progress on the right tasks? Which things need to be solved now and what can be deferred until later?

To solve this problem, we built an entirely new idea into Basecamp To-Dos. It’s a 10,000-foot view of our projects that answers the hard questions about where things really stand.

Introducing the Hill Chart.


Progress is not a number

“42% of the tasks are complete.” What does that tell you? Very little.

For creative work and software projects, you can’t describe progress with a number. Why not? Because tasks on a project aren’t all the same. If the team gets stuck or starts to run out of time, it matters which tasks are in that 42%. The strategy for getting unstuck depends on where you’re stuck.


More than that, we don’t actually know every task in advance. As we roll up our sleeves on a project, we discover more detailed tasks to track than we had in the beginning. A raw percentage count would show our progress going backward instead of forwards when that happens!

What we really want to know is where the work stands. Has the team figured out how to do it? Are there unknowns that will block us ahead? What’s solved and what’s still full of uncertainty?

Work is like a hill

We found a metaphor for talking about this at Basecamp. Every piece of work has two phases. First there’s an uphill phase where you figure out your approach. You have a basic idea about the task, but you haven’t figured out what the solution is going to look like or how to solve all the unknowns.

Then after you’ve explored what works and what doesn’t, you reach a point where there aren’t any unsolved problems anymore. That’s like standing at the top of the hill. You can see clearly all the way down the other side. Then the downhill phase is just about execution.


Work on the two sides of the hill is very different.

Uphill work is hard to estimate. You might go in circles searching for the right approach. And as long as unknowns remain, there’s risk. The programmer thinks it’ll be a quick change but the API is different than expected. Or the interaction design seemed like a quick fix but there’s no room for the button on the mobile version.

On the downhill side, the world is certain. You’ve solved the problems, figured out your approach, eliminated the unknowns. All that remains are steps of execution to finish the project.

A human data point

No calculation will tell you how many unknowns are on a to-do list. Or how hard the remaining problems are. That’s why we built a way for teams to communicate, in a human way, exactly how they feel about where the work stands from unknown to known using the metaphor of the hill.

Here’s a demo to show you how it works.

A Hill Chart from a real project

Each of our development projects in Basecamp is made of a set of To-Do Lists. We create a To-Do List for each piece of work that we can make progress on independently.


Now to track progress, we turn on Hill Chart tracking for each list. This will reveal a Hill Chart on the top of the To-Dos screen with a dot for the list we’re tracking.


We did this for three lists. Next we click Update on the Hill Chart and drag the dots for those lists into position.


Now anybody who checks on the project can see the status of these three lists. Two of them are over the hill — full of certainty, with just execution left. One is still on the uphill slope, which means there are unsolved problems or open questions.

Note how that the status is human generated, not computer generated. This reflects a real person’s feeling of the work at this moment. And because the status is attached to lists, not individual to-do items, we gain a higher-order perspective on all the work at once.

Hills make history

Every time someone updates the positions on the hill, a new snapshot is saved to the project’s history. This enables managers to immediately acquire a ton of context about what is moving on the project and what isn’t without peppering the team with questions. People on the team can optionally annotate each of their updates with commentary. You can even comment on or Boost someone else’s Hill Chart update. This enables a new level of fast, asynchronous communication about high-level progress on projects.


More well-defined work

Sometimes trying to position a list on the Hill Chart helps you to better structure the work. On a recent project we were building a feature to notify people when an Event in Basecamp was rescheduled.

This dot didn’t move for a few days.

That dot sat there for a few days without moving. Something was wrong. Why weren’t we making progress? After a short talk with the team, we realized that it was unclear where to place the dot because part of the work was fully figured out and part wasn’t. The back-end code to deliver the notification was fully solved. But there was some more design work relating to the emails and Hey! menu that we hadn’t figured out. So where should the dot go?

In a case like this, the hill is telling us to break up the list. We renamed the original list to “Notification: Delivery” and moved it over the hill to show where it really stood. Then we created two separate lists to track the front-end work that was still uphill.

Breaking up the work shows where it really stands

Redefining the To-Do Lists like this made it easier to see what was actually going on in the project and what needed to be done next.

Flexible, per-list setting

For each project, you can choose which To-Do Lists appear as dots on the Hill Chart. It’s a per-list setting, so you can still have regular To-Do Lists mixed in with your tracked lists. We usually keep a list called “Chowder” at the end a project for loose ends that don’t fit anywhere else, and we don’t plot that one on the hill.

From unknown to known, and known to done

Instead of counting tasks, the Hill Chart shows where the work really stands. From unknown on the far left, to known at the top, to done on the far right.

Since we adopted the Hill Chart internally at Basecamp, our teams have been communicating about progress at a level never before possible. Our intuitions are the same, but now we have a visual way to immediately show each other where the work stands. And because of the Hill Chart history, we don’t need to call meetings to catch up on a project’s status. It’s no longer a challenge to see what’s in motion and what’s stuck. We can have quick, substantial conversations asynchronously about where to focus next or how to break up a problem.

That’s the kind of thing Basecamp is supposed to do: make you more organized, give you more time, and put everybody on the same page.

We hope you can experience the same benefits we have by trying the Hill Chart on your next Basecamp 3 project. You can use the Hill Chart on any project today by navigating to a particular To-Do List and choosing “Track this on the Hill Chart” from the Options menu (•••) in the top-right corner.


New to Basecamp? Learn what it’s all about and start a 30-day free trial over at Basecamp.com.

Introducing Boosts: an all-new way to show your support in Basecamp

We gave up on Likes and invented a totally new form of tiny communication.

If there’s one thing you can’t avoid on the Internet, it’s Likes. They’re in nearly every software platform where people post photos or write text messages.


Sometimes Likes are called Faves, Hearts, Reactions, Claps, or something else, but the basic idea is the same: they’re a small, quick way to express your feelings about something, usually accompanied by a count of other people who had that same feeling.

Until today, we had exactly this sort of feature in Basecamp 3. We called it Applause. If you liked a post, you’d clap for it. Everyone who clapped was shown in a row.

Basecamp’s applause feature.

This was fine, of course—it worked just like all the other Likes.

But a couple months ago, we started thinking more deeply about this pattern, and we noticed it has a lot of insidious problems.

  1. Likes are vague, especially in a professional setting. Let’s say your boss liked someone else’s post, and not yours. You might start questioning what happened. Was she just busy and not paying full attention to everything? Or did she do that intentionally? What does it all mean!? There’s no way to know, because there’s not enough information — just a bunch of digital grunting.
  2. Likes are obligatory. How many times have you felt obligated to SMASH THE LIKE BUTTON because you didn’t want to seem like a jerk, or because everyone else was liking something? There’s a subtle peer pressure and herd mentality hiding behind those thumbs up.
  3. Likes are vanity metrics. Whenever you post something to a social network, do you obsessively check to see how it was received? That’s because those little Like counts are a drug for your brain: you get a dopamine rush by observing your own mini-popularity contest. It’s a psychological trick to keep you coming back for more.
  4. Likes are thoughtless. Has there ever been a more mindless form of communication than merely tapping a button? Liking something requires almost no effort or consideration whatsoever. Here’s what you’re really saying: “Thank you for spending your precious time posting this. In return, I have clicked a button. It took me less than one second. Bye.”
  5. Likes are canned. In most apps you have to pick from a predefined set of acceptable symbols (or in Basecamp’s case, just clapping.) That’s not great for addressing the infinite range of nuanced human emotions, and it’s also totally impersonal. Why should some software company decide which 3 emotions you’re allowed to have?

Now, it’s not all bad. There are some good things about Likes too:

  1. Sharing support for others is wonderful. We want to encourage that, of course!
  2. It’s nice to respond to something without making a fuss. You might not have much to say, but you still want to let someone know you appreciated their ideas. Notifying a bunch of other people on a thread merely to say “good job!” is overkill.
  3. It’s helpful to know that people saw your posts. When you see that 10 people liked your post, you’ll know they received it and thought about it (at least a little.)

With all of these ideas in mind, we went back to the drawing board and came up with a fresh new approach that’s never been done before. We’re calling it Boosts, and it’s way better than all of those crummy digital grunts.

Here’s how you boost something in Basecamp.

In various places in Basecamp, you’ll see a new rocket icon:

Boost button!

Click that, and it’ll morph into a small text field.

A field in which to boost

You’ll notice there are no predetermined options or smiley face buttons to choose from. That’s on purpose. You have to make it up yourself!

Add some emoji or write a tiny text note, up to 16 characters max. Then click the green check mark to save your boost (or the red X to cancel.)

You can add more than one boost if you want, and they’ll collect into a little bundle like so:

Boosting twice

Your boosts won’t notify anyone other than the original poster. So if you’re on a comment thread with 10 other people and you boost Dave, only Dave will get a notification about it. This is in contrast to comments, which send a notification to everyone on the thread. So if you just want to say “Great job!” or “I agree” or “👍”, but you don’t want to bug everyone with a notification, boosts are best!

If you messed up making a boost, click on it and a trash icon will appear. Click the trash to delete it. (If you’re an admin, you can delete anyone’s boosts in the same way.)

Deleting a boost

After a lot of people have boosted someone, you’ll see a sweet block of small supportive comments, where everyone’s message is totally unique! There are no vanity counts or anything like that.

Here’s how it looked when I announced that we’d be launching Boosts:

A block o’ boosts

Other times, boosts work like a silly mini-conversation.

lol juice boosts

When you’ve received some boosts, you’ll get notified about them every 3 hours as long as there’s something new to report—otherwise Basecamp won’t notify you.


Why every 3 hours? We think it’s the perfect amount of time: infrequent enough that you won’t be bombarded about little responses, but frequent enough that you won’t miss anything for too long.

When you click on that notification, you’ll see all your boosts, ordered by date:


You can also unsubscribe from the boosts notifications, if you prefer. Just hit the button in the top-right corner of the page above.


What happened to applause?

Applause is no more (it’s been replaced by Boosts.) But old posts that had applause will still show it—those claps have simply been turned into boosts instead.

Clap Boosts.

So that’s Boosts — we hope you like them! (Pun intended)

We’ve been using boosts for over a month, and we’ve found them to be a much richer form of communication than our primitive old applause system. They’re far more contextual, freeform, and creative: perfect for posting short, thoughtful responses.

After a few days, you’ll notice you won’t feel obligated to boost something unless you genuinely have something to say. Boosts are far less susceptible to vague interpretations, since every little boost is unique to the conversation at hand. And with no buttons to smash, there’s no more mindless button smashing!

Give boosts a try and let us know what you think. We’d love to hear from you on Twitter or in the comments on this post.

🚀🚀🚀


New to Basecamp and want to see what it’s all about? Sign up for a 30 day free trial over yonder.

New in Basecamp 3: Get notified when someone reschedules events & to-dos

Stay in the loop when dates change

Last month, we added to-dos to the redesigned Schedule Card in Basecamp 3. This made it much easier to see what’s coming up on your projects.

But dates slip — due dates are shifted, events get moved—and Basecamp didn’t make it easy to see changes to your schedule. Starting today, whenever a to-do you’re assigned or an event you’re participating in is rescheduled, we’ll tell you about it.

Here’s how it works

Before, you’d only receive a notification when you were added to an event in Basecamp 3. Now, you’ll see a separate notification if that event gets rescheduled to a different date or time:

An event as added and then rescheduled

To-dos work a similar way. You’ll see notifications whenever due dates are added or shifted on your assignments:

Due date added and Due date changed notifications

Who will receive these notifications?

At Basecamp, we’re not huge fans of interruptions. To keep the noise down, we’ll only send these notifications to:

  • People assigned to the to-do
  • The person who made the assignment
  • Event participants

Other subscribers will not be notified of date changes. That means you can comment on an event or to-do without being inundated with notifications.

What if I reschedule something multiple times?

In another effort to avoid notification overload, we’ve grouped things together:

  • Hey! Menu: Hey! notifications are bundled for each item, so you won’t see 3 separate entries if your manager rescheduled that to-do or event 3 times in rapid succession.
  • Emails: For folks who prefer email, we’ll aggregate to-do due date changes into a single message. So if a manager sets due dates for several tasks, you’ll receive just one email about it:

A single email for recent to-do due date changes

We hope this makes it easier to keep track of upcoming events and due dates in Basecamp 3. We’re working hard on more improvements in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!


Got feedback or ideas to share? We’d love to hear what you think about the new features. You can contact us on Twitter or share your thoughts via our Support form.

New in Basecamp: Improved Schedule Cards

A more complete picture of what’s coming up

This was a classic case of “How hard could it be?” that started as a series of customer requests and bug reports. People wanted to see their events AND their dated to-dos on their Basecamp 3 Schedule cards. Totally reasonable, right? Like anything involving dates, timezones, and computers, it took more than a little wrangling… But now you can!

Let There Be To-dos
Here’s a great example from our Ops Team. Before, we only showed upcoming schedule events. That triggered a misleading message that said “Nothing’s coming up!”

Nothing’s coming up! Maybe?

Why is this misleading? If you click through to the Schedule itself, you’ll see there’s actually a to-do due tomorrow:

Surpise!

You wouldn’t have known that glancing at the Schedule card. With the changes we just added, you’ll now see something like this when you’ve got upcoming to-dos:

Voila! Just like the full Schedule

Who and When?
Another thing was missing from the previous design: It wasn’t clear exactly who was involved in an event and precisely when it was happening. That’s because we just showed the name of the event and the date on which it occurred:

What time is dinner, anyway?

Now, we show avatars for each participant and to-do assignee as well as times for events that happen at a specific time:

A lovely group and an early start.

Templates
Project Templates were also missing to-dos. That led to situations like this where the Schedule looked blank:

Nohting to see here… Or is there?

In fact, there may have been several to-dos:

The full picture

We hope this makes Schedule cards more useful for you. Stay tuned for more updates to Basecamp 3!


Got feedback or ideas to share? We’d love to hear what you think about the new features. You can contact us on Twitter or share your thoughts via our Support form.