Basecamp URL change to basecamphq
Today 37signals dropped our domain http://webwork.clientsection.com. Instead they have replaced it with http://webwork.basecamphq.com.
There is a thread on their forums covering the issue. As one customer writes:
BasecampHQ is a stupid domain for one. What is its relevance to my clients? I am paying for a professional service – not for branding that sounds like a paint ball website.
I totally agree. Apparently this change is coming with additional footer branding and additional branding in the emails.
This is a case of breaking the contract with the original customer: us. We are the ones who bought into their white label extranet solution with attractive anonymous core domains like:
We pay a handsome yearly fee for the use of the software and the domain. Until recently, it’s been $600/year. Now, it’s $1200/year. For that fee, we expected 37signals to honour their part of the deal which was to allow us to continue to use the software and environment which we helped them get off the ground.
We actually upgraded our Basecamp account recently and consolidated our operations on the system. I was happy to do it, but now have deep regrets.
37signals at this point has gone Microsoft. They are not working for us anymore. I’m not sure they are working for them. They are working for the corporation and have become that corporation.
What is particularly disheartening is the supercilious tone and dissembling of Jason Fried has not abated. His excuse for sandbagging us on our domain name:
In fact, it reminds us a lot of our transition away from IE 6 a few years ago. That transition was also met with similar dissatisfaction by some of our customers.
Fried was immediately called on his absurd analogy by Andrew Myers:
There is no reason for this move from any perspective other than that of marketing for your products. What will this bring to us the customer (Who are paying your bills) that we simply can not live without?
I also do not like the fact that branding for Basecamp is now on all pages and in emails generated by the software. Why? 37signals, you’re dropping the ball on this one. How about spending more development time improving Basecamp, your core product, instead of wasting so much time on stuff that doesn’t really matter to your customers.
it’s filled with pretzel logic. By the third sentence you’re talking about IE6 as a comparison – with the only correlation being that people didn’t like that either? And third, you never address the crux of the matter – that you sold it for years as white label and now you are branding it and linking from our extranet pages to your selling pages.
I also suggest you take a look at your About page and see if you still Believe in those things… especially the one about your customers being your investors.
Dougal hit the nail on the head.
We aren’t that important anymore, the core customers. 37signals want to be the Microsoft of project management and online collaboration. They don’t need or want us any more.
ep agrees and highlights another issue well known to alert 37signals customers. You can’t get your data out:
You can not leave with your data period. 37s is abusing this situation which has lasted for years now. When you have been using Basecamp for years, you depend on it, your customers depend on it and you’re tied because you can not leave with your data, just a stupid xml file or a ridiculous set of html files.
37signals used to be a small company like lots of us are (or not?). When you are a small company your customers are human beings; when you have passed a certain point of growth (and greed), the same customers become numbers.
I’m afraid we have become numbers.
The only way out is via the API which is a bit shaky. Somebody should write a migration tool. In fact someone already has done so. The problem is that it doesn’t work (I tried it).
We are currently working on a serious enhancement to Basecamp, which we are beta-testing internally. Now that we have over 50 live projects, Basecamp is creaking at the seams and so we’ve decided to enhance it.
Once this enhancement is out the door, we will be working on a self-hosted open source version of Basecamp. Our code base will be WordPress (check out our Foliopress WYSIWYG and FV Thoughtful Comments to see what we are up to on the WordPress). We’ve built insurance apps, real estate apps, SEO apps, all on the WordPress codebase, so we know this can be done.
The first extra tool will be an import tool from Basecamp. The API work for our Basecamp based tool will come in very handy.
Anyone who is interested in updates on our enhancement to Basecamp and in being able to host a Basecamp-like solution on their own domain and on their own server should sign up below. People form this list will be first in line to beta-test.
If I have any strong thoughts about Basecamp alternatives in the meantime, I will share them with this list as well.
Once we get the very first iteration done, we will be seeking collaborators. If you’d like to participate in development and have great WordPress, PHP or server-admin skills, we want to hear from you. Please sign up here:
What this won’t be is a slow product like ActiveCollab (server crippling loads) with a lot of features. We build fast and lean. The first iterations will actually have less features than Basecamp but the ones which we really need. We believe in the GPL and we believe in free software and won’t pull a license change either. Don’t believe us?
Our codebase is WordPress: we couldn’t leave the GPL even if we wanted to.
Alec has been helping businesses succeed online since 2000. Alec is an SEM expert with a background in advertising, as a former Head of Television for Grey Moscow and Senior Television Producer for Bates, Saatchi and Saatchi Russia.
Congrats on the initiative. Long overdue I think. Kudos.
Totally non technical, but if we can be of help somehow let me know. Bit of deja vu though – I can recall ActiveCollab started out with same sentiment… hopefully GPL will keep this in the ‘good’ space.
I know what you mean Gavin. But Ilija over at ActiveCollab threw out all the collaborative code (ironically) in order to be able to change the license.
We are starting with a GPL project at the base, so you can be sure there is no way out in terms of license.
We considered giving ActiveCollab our money (the license costs are affordable enough, although I didn’t like the second charge for removing branding) but the software is just too slow. Even on good hardware. Basecamp itself is slow on a bad day.
We want something very, very fast.
What’s nice about the WordPress architecture is that you will be able to tweak templates and it will be possible to write/adapt WordPress style plugins which will work with AscentList.
The core code base will be kept very lean with additions via plugins meaning that you will only have the features you need and at the same time you will have all the features you need.
Thanks for your support!
Cool. Sounds good. We actually did give money to ActiveCollab, but as you say horridly slow, and the underlying system is almost totally undocumented. So even though you theoretically can add features to the system in practice doing so is obscurely hard.
In the end though it was user interface that did it in. We simply couldn’t persuade our users to migrate to AC. Too complicated / convoluted. Something speedy quick and simple sounds great. Can’t wait. :)
Been there, done that. Came back.
I’ve been searching for the right project management, collaboration tool for years. We built 3 tools on our own, tried almost all currently available tools, and settled on activeCollab. And like you, Alec, we even built some add-ons to activeCollab. (we’ve one for Basecamp as well).
I’ve done some heavy duty hacking on activeCollab for a year, and I can say things are very well laid out. I am sure there is room to improve speed. But the architecture is good. We applied some of our own methods to speed our setup – about 100 users.
There are dozens of projects that started out as Basecamp clone. Many are dead. Some are going that way. I don’t see any point in building a Basecamp clone anymore. If you use WordPress, you will have its overhead too. As you would want to add features, things will keep bloating. You may end up worse. I have hacked WordPress for years too, and don’t think it’s a good platform to build a collaboration / project management system.
I suggest you find ways to speed up / improve activeCollab for one. If you want to stick to GPL, take it from where Ilija left and build it forward. AC’s GPL version was quite impressive as well. If you are ok with non-GPL and really want the performance and UI – it will take turning off some modules in AC, creating a new theme and applying a few optimizations on your server.
My two cents!
Thanks for sharing your experiences.
I don’t agree that ActiveCollab salvageable in terms of speed. If you have an install which I could demo and for which you are prepared to reveal the server resources available to it, I’d be delighted to give it a spin. If ActiveCollabe requires a dedicated server on its own, it’s not an efficient solution.
In terms of WordPress overhead, we are one of the best in business at optimising a WordPress install and speeding it up. AscentList will actually run on the front end of WordPress, not the admin side so WordPress will be more than up to the task. There are WordPress sites tranquilly serving thousands of page views per hour on shared servers, which will more than suffice for any extranet I expect to be running on our software.
But I agree: code optimisation and speed will have to remain a priority at all times.
One reason we prefer WordPress is that WordPress has a thoroughly tested code base so we are not reinventing the wheel. Over the last couple of years, there’s been a lot of code optimisation done, and that will continue going forward. As much as possible our code will be written as plugins and templates so that we can continue to upgrade in sync with WordPress version. There’s some security issues which we’ll have to plug server side so that we don’t have to always be bleeding edge but I do expect to stay within one point of the main version.
As WordPress-based software, there is a huge team of developers who are very familiar with the code and the plugin structure. As our goal is to share Ascent List with the world, letting others in to test, hack at and help with our code is a priority. With Ilija it was always an afterthought.
I see it similar to the WordPress – Moveable Type – Typepad ecosphere. WordPress, as a true collaborative effort, ended up owning the entire space, despite the three years maturity advance with which Moveable Type started.
We really like Basecamp and had the Signals left us our own url, http://webwork.clientsection.com , and not started to aggressively brand Basecamp to our clients and in outgoing emails, we wouldn’t bother. But they have. Enough is enough and we want our data on our own URL and control over the branding of our extranet.
And think of the upside. After all these years, you will get control of your own data too, in a tool which is yours to use and customise as you please.
While I agree that it would take effort to optimize activeCollab, I think it’s need for resources is something I am ready to live with, given all its other benefits.
I like your idea of using the frontend WP for AscentList.
My only concern is I’ve seen too many project start with a great vision and ambition to be a replacement for another. And most of them either become bloated / worse than the original or are abandoned.
Do you plan to build a Basecamp clone itself, or fill the gaps as well? Long time demanded features like due dates on tasks / todo lists etc?
The biggest hurdle, is moving data out of Basecamp – basically files. If you can get files out, that will be a killer in itself!
I would also be happy to contribute! And will keep watching this page!
Thanks for your stopping by and for your questions.
Step one is to build an even more minimalist project management environment than Basecamp.
Our core features are:
We intend to release even before File Upload and Writeboards (based on WordPress pages) are on board although they will come second. File upload will only be with messages or comments.
Calendars and milestones will come next. Your reminder about allowing due dates on todo’s is one of the few extra features which will likely make core.
Later cool features include new posts (from clients) via email: will go to admin moderation for publication.
Our intention is to keep Ascent List barebones, just like WordPress core.
Add-ons will be in the way of plugins. Plugins will be open to the developer community.
You get the extra features you need and not features you don’t need.
Take a look at my dance website to see what I mean when I say minimalist: http://uncoy.com
One thing which we are very good at it is transposing data. Expect bullet-proof import from Basecamp. At some point, we will probably create a path from ActiveCollab as well.
What you will appreciate is that once in Ascent List your data will be in a MySQL database to which you have admin access. No one can ever hijack your data again.
Recommended Move strategy:
This is a twelve to eighteen month strategy. Within nine months, I’d like to see $24/month going to 37signals instead of $100/month.
I’m sorry to hear about your Basecamp troubles. If you are not too far along on creating your own project management tool, I would like to suggest that you take a look at TeamWork Live: teamworklive.com. While we don’t offer whitelabel domains, we offer everything else that Basecamp offers and more (including being responsiveness to our customers). We have an import tool that allows you to quickly import your projects from Basecamp into TeamWork Live so you can quickly see if it works for you or not.
I don’t want you to underestimate the amount of time it takes to create one of these tools yourself. We have been live for over 3 years now and are still nowhere near where we want to be as far as features ago.
Regards, Tuyen Founder, TeamWork Live
Thanks for stopping by.
I had a look at TeamWork Live. I have to say:
So I can’t recommend that anyone change Basecamp for TeamWork live
Thank you for the tip on what it takes to build one of these tools. We are not building for complexity, we are building for simplicity. Anyone will be able to add a plugin or the plugins they want for enhanced functionality.
On other fronts, our Basecamp tool for managing todo’s has gone into beta use here at Foliovision. It’s amazing. I can hardly wait to release Ascent List.
Those who have signed up for our beta test will be the first to beoffered access to Ascent List when it’s ready for external use and will get free accounts for six months.
Thanks for stopping by.
You have definitely put a good effort in adding a lot of the features that people clamour for in Basecamp.
We actually tested teamworkpm.net very early but not even one project was brought over properly (i.e. your importer choked on the first project).
Thanks for the heads up on the API issue with files. We’ve kept our files external for that reason, but the links still won’t be in the projects. Very dastardly on the Signals part.
Do you allow people to manage projects on their own domains? i.e. “http://projects.foliovision.com“?
If you could add that kind of a feature, you’d probably find a lot of enthusiastic takers. And it’s not as difficult to manage as it sounds at first.
Typepad calls it domain mapping, and while they do rather a poor job of it, it can be implemented successfully.
Interesting article you wrote, and a topic I have read so much on lately. I have seen a large jump in subscriptions to our teamworkpm service since 47signals released this news and we have been helping a lot of people move from Bascamp over to us because of this change of policy with the domain names.
We also decided 2 years ago to go about making our own product, back then the main reason was the lack of end dates on tasks, it just made it impossible to plan projects. So we went away and built our our system with all the fetures we felt were missing from Basecamp. Recently we added a Basecamp import tool but it’s stll 50/50 with bringing all projects over from basecamp as they do alot of thing differently from us so it’s a bit hit a miss but we are working through the issues all the time with the importer. There is also no way to bring over files as this section has been kept out their API full stop.
Still if your looking for a place to plan your projects while your building your own system let me know and I will sort you out with a good deal. All the best and good luck with the build.
We do allow users from Business 2 plans on to create custom domains, in these plans as well we also remove any TeamworkPM branding.
Sorry to hear about the import issue, you could try importing again as we may have fixed the issue you had. If not we could take another look at it and see whats causing the problems. There are a painful amount of things that can go wrong when importing over but we have managed to get a lot of people across with all their projects.
Since this thread includes discussions about Basecamp and activeCollab, I thought I’d mention another alternative that my company offers, called The eSolve Office. It is suitable for those who would like the flexibility of activeCollab, without the need to manage it themselves. We provide each customer with their own custom / dedicated installation backed by a separate activeCollab license, and manage everything for them, including customization, updates, and support.
We are running a limited-time promotion that includes a 50% discount. With this offer, the entry-level version is $49/month, and includes unlimited projects and users. This pricing is very favorable and competitive with other online Project Collaboration solutions, but the benefit is the custom nature of the solution.
Dr. Guy Cortesi President eSolve Solutions, Inc.
Well Guy, you could mention it, but as ActiveCollab is a dirt slow piece of disappointment, I don’t think that there are any Basecamp users or Foliovision readers who’d like to move into the slow lane.
I must say your website is unattractive as well. Certainly does not inspire confidence.
Alec – thanks for the feedback. We’ve used ActiveCollab for nearly 3 years now running on new Apple XServe servers and I’ve never felt that it was slow. Our customers have not complained about speed either – that’s not been an issue at all.
Regarding the site (www.esolveoffice.com), do you have any specific suggestions?
@Dr. Cortesi – I know AC is currently testing a basecamp to AC importer, but not yet heard if this works at all, or well. Do you have any experience of this? The ability to get your information from Basecamp (or lack of it) has always been the stumbling block for all post-Basecamp solutions.
As others have said, AC will have to substantially improve its performance to be considered an alternative too – but for as long as alternatives are thin on the ground I guess it is viable on the ‘something is better than nothing’ test.
@Galvin – I agree that the ability to get your information from Basecamp has always been the stumbling block. I’ve been working with A51 to try the Basecamp to AC importer you mentioned (activecollab.com/news/help-us-test-Basecamp-Importer-for-activeCollab/). Right now it is still in Beta and is only available to those with a valid AC license. I’ve done some work with simpler Basecamp data and that worked, and plan to import a more complex Basecamp setup for one user pretty soon.
With respect to AC performance I’ve found that with an excellent network connection and the proper server setup, the system works pretty well.
@Gavin: I have found the Basecamp importer to be quite good. We are also transitioning another client from Basecamp to activeCollab today, and will know results of their BC -> AC import in the next few days. The Importer is not public yet (guess it will be available in next big AC release).
@Alec: How are things moving along with the project? Did you release it?
With the proper server setup, no doubt you can get decent performance out of ActiveCollab. I’m thinking that on a dedicated quad core with SSD drives ActiveCollab should be quite sprightly. For the connection it also helps if the server were in country with a 20 MS ping time or less.
Why ActiveCollab is so sloppy, I have no idea. Even Basecamp in Chicago to Europe is not nearly so slow.
We’ve actually completed stage one and are using it in-house as an add on tool to Basecamp at this point.
In the meantime, 37signals have released a lot of the missing functionality (project templates, todo list dates), so the pressure to move is not as high as it was. We will be releasing our add on soon: it’s called Ascent List.
We stand by to turn Ascent List into a full fledged solution if 37signals drop the ball again.
Thanks for asking!