Basecamp Classic vs. Basecamp Next – Pros & Cons

37signals just launched Basecamp Next (referred to it as “BCX”), which is their newest platform of the online-based project management software. I’ve been using Basecamp for around four years now, and always been a huge fan of 37Signals products and their business model.

I have to say, the launch of BCX was overdue, as Basecamp “Classic” (as they now call their original version) has gotten increasingly out-of-date with its lack of major feature improvements over time.

For those of you who are Basecamp users and are looking to try out BCX , I’ve put together some pros and cons to help you move forward with your decision.

– THE PROS –

1. Appearance

Basecamp Classic is ugly! But 37Signals improved in this area by updating BCX’s design and look. The typography is better, fonts are larger, and there is more space in between text lines, which helps readability. Projects are also in “card” form, which makes it easier to find and identify your company’s projects.

2. Speed

They really focused on speed when developing BCX (as much as your system can handle anyway) so you and your team can get more done in less time, which further strengthens the power of the software in terms of productivity and collaboration.

3. Shortcuts and tricks

BCX has some neat tricks to help you navigate and get around faster. For example, by pressing G (1,2,3,4,5) you can easily jump back and forth between discussions, text docs, calendar and more.

4. Memory

Probably the most annoying thing about Classic was that as soon as you checked something off your to-do list or made an edit to a project, it refreshed the page and brought you back to the top of the page. Stupid! But BCX allows you to jump from a project to discussion (for example), then jump back to the project. It remembers where you were on the page so you don’t have to scroll around and find where you were working last.


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6. Real-time

Basecamp Next runs in real-time. I think this is one of the neatest features with BCX – it runs in real-time. So when you’re typing in Text Docs, it updates the page as you type and so other people can see that you’re typing. Another example – as soon as you leave a comment on a project, it updates the page in real-time so others can see it without refreshing the page.

7. Client engagement

We, like many other users, use Basecamp to work on projects and collaborate with clients. A common complaint with Classic is that it’s a little difficult to get clients to collaborate and keep up-to-date with projects through Basecamp. BCX now has a “Loop-in” feature where you can, well, “loop-in,” people outside of your team or users on Basecamp via email. For example, if you’re working on a project with two departments and want to update the client with the latest details, you can loop them in to the discussion board so they can see the full thread.

– THE CONS –

I know I raved a bit about all the pros, but there are a few cons in my opinion:

1. Lack of initial training

Although the new support tab now on the left is handy, they only offered classes (via webinars you had to register for) to show/train you on BCX for one week. And if you missed it – well, you’re out of luck. Puzzling.

2. No WYSIWYG STILL!

One of the biggest annoyances from Basecamp Classic is that comments, discussions and on Writeboards didn’t have a WYSIWYG editor. You even had to add *stars* around text to bold them at one point. You can now bold, italicize, and make bullets, but that’s it. I thought for sure they’d change it in BCX, but I was wrong. The good news is that they say it’s coming, but they gave no ETA.

3. Once you start, you can’t go back

Once you import your projects from Classic to BCX, you can’t export them back to Classic. So if you tried out BCX and wanted to go back to Classic after your trial period, you can’t sync your projects back to Classic. The other con is that you also can’t import private project from Classic to BCX. There is word that they are working on importing private projects, but not sure on an ETA when that will be released.

But, if you’re happy with Classic, or just don’t like change, 37Signals will always offer Classic and never force you to upgrade.

Overall, I’m happy about Basecamp Next and wouldn’t want to go back to Classic anyway. If 37Signals could make just a few more improvements to it, I would even go so far as to say it’s the best project-management software out there!

 

Any other users out there? Love to hear your thoughts!

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Devan Perine

Devan Perine works with small business owners on their marketing and multimedia efforts. She's passionate about helping businesses build their presence online, and giving Gen Y a voice in the workplace. When she's not working, she loves to make a mess in the kitchen, and play with her band around Chicago. She loves to chat! Give her a shout on Google+, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Comments

  1. I’m really liking it, but there are a number of “rough edges” that I’m guessing will get corrected over time. (e.g. you can’t assign a to-do to a person the window closes before you can assign a due date.) But the one page view is very nice and it does seem quicker.

  2. Adam Diesel says:

    Recently I got upgraded to new basecamp but I am not happy with it. New basecamp is missing features like time tracking and it also has a complex user interface. From a friend of mine, I came to know about proofhub (www.proofhub.com). This software has helped me a lot and I think that it is the best alternative to basecamp.

  3. Sarah Baker says:

    So I’m stumbling on this article two years after the fact, and have been evaluating migrating to BCX from Classic, but there’s one huge thing I’m missing (and I’m hoping it’s just me). In Classic, I’m able to look at an aggregate view of all projects on the calendar, and switch between users to see milestones that are due, and who’s responsible for what, which helps manage our department and keep us on target. I haven’t been able to figure out how to do that without going into a specific project on BCX, and with 50 to 60 projects running at any given time, that’s a problem. Have you encountered anything like this?

    • Hey Sarah!

      I have to say, I didn’t have as much experience with using calendars in BCX, but they have all the ‘to-dos’ listed out by project on the calendar. So you can select and de-select projects (by clicking the colored circles for the projects on the left hand side in Calendar) and see what’s due visually on the calendar.

      Does that make sense? I think that’s what you were hoping it did, or am I off-base? Let me know! 🙂

      Devan

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