A preview of what’s new in Basecamp 3

Jason Fried
Oct 5, 2015 · 9 min read

Basecamp 3 is right around the corner. Make sure you get on the list for an early invite.

I’m working on a page for the new site called “What’s new in Basecamp 3” and I figured I’d post a draft of it here. There are no images yet — there will be on the site — but you can at least get a sense of some of the new stuff on the way! We think you’re really going to love it.


Pings: Private backchannels

Pings are like instant messages or direct messages. Need to ask someone a quick question? Want to talk about something off the record? Want to get someone’s take on something before sharing it with everyone else? Just ping them! Pings are private between the participants — no one else can see them.

Work Can Wait: Shut up work, it’s Saturday!

Basecamp 3 lets you set up your work schedule so you don’t get notifications after work or on the weekends. You can always go into the apps to check if anything’s new, but Basecamp won’t send you any emails, push notifications, or in-app notifications if it’s outside your specified work hours. Live a little! Work Can Wait until you’re back at work.

Campfires: Gather ‘round and talk

Every Basecamp project now includes a Campfire — a group chat room for quick discussions, rapid-fire sharing, information dumping, casual decision making. When you don’t know where to go to ask something, pop in the Campfire and say hi. Quick answers are on the way. Campfires are fast, lively, real-time, and often the heartbeat of the project.

Applause: Give them a standing-o!

Show someone you care by clicking the Applause button on any message, comment, document, or answer on any automatic question. They’ll get a discrete notification letting them know you appreciated what they said. This is a great way to show your support for someone’s suggestion, idea, or point of view without also sending a notification to everyone else on the project.

Reports: Be a know it all

If your job is to stay on top of everything, the all-new reports in Basecamp 3 will be your best friend. They cut across everything and let you know what’s late, what’s coming up, what someone’s been up to, if you’re adding to the pile of work or chipping away at it, what’s on someone’s plate, etc. Get on top, stay on top, and call the shots when you have a big picture of the big picture.

Share with anyone: Check this out

Basecamp 3 lets you share anything with anyone — even if they aren’t part of a project. Just click the “Share…” button, select the “get a public link to share with anyone”, grab the link, and send it to anyone you want. They’ll be able to see that thing (message, document, file, to-do list, schedule, etc), but they won’t be able to see anything else in the project. Great for selectively sharing something with someone who’s not core to your project but who’s interested in something from time to time.

The Toolbox: Take it or leave it

Every Basecamp 3 project comes equipped with six tools: To-dos, a message board, a Campfire, automatic questions, docs & files, and a schedule. We give you everything you need to get any project done with any group, but should you decide you don’t want a schedule or a Campfire or automatic questions on a given project, you can just turn them off. Bam, out of your way. You’re in control.

Automatic Questions: Answers like clockwork

If you want answers you have to ask questions. But remembering to ask people the same thing over and over is tedious and you end up feeling like a nag. So let Basecamp 3 automate it for you! Set up any question you’d like (e.g. “What did you work on today” or “Are you blocked on anything?”), select who should be asked, and then set up the frequency (every day, once a week, in the morning, at the end of the day, etc), and Basecamp will take care of the rest. Information will come pouring in, and Basecamp will organize it nice and neatly for you.

@mentions: Psst!

Need to get someone’s attention? Want to reference someone in a discussion? Just @mention them. You can @mention anyone anywhere — in a to-do, a comment, a discussion, a Campfire chat room, a message, a file description, anywhere — and type someone’s name. They’ll instantly get a notification letting them know they’ve been mentioned, along with a direct link right back to where you mentioned them. So so useful.

Cascading Notifications: Finding you where you are

Basecamp 3’s notifications system was designed to catch you where you currently are without leaving a mess everywhere else. For example, if you’re in Basecamp 3 in your browser, you’ll get a desktop notification. If you’re not in the desktop app, we’ll notify you on your phone (if you have the iOS/Android app installed). And if you don’t have a mobile app installed, or you do but you have push notifications turned off, we’ll send the notification via email. It works as you’d expect and never overloads you in two places.

Bookmarks: Never lose your place

Simple but, but oh so handy. You can bookmark just about anything in Basecamp 3 so you can jump right back to it from anywhere else. If you bounce between a to-do list and a document often, just bookmark them both and you’ll always be a single click away no matter where you are. Bookmarks show up in the “Projects” menu, nearly organized below the project they live in.

Project timeline: A time machine

At the bottom of every project is a timeline of all activity going back to the moment you started the project. If you’re ever looking for something that someone did, but you can’t remember exactly where they did it, just scroll down. There it is! Whenever someone shares a file, posts a message, comments on a to-do, adds a to-do, completes a to-do, answers a question, kicks off a new document — whatever and whenever — it’s logged to the project timeline so you can alway find it later.

Folders!: Get your neat freak on

Basecamp 3 lets you organize any file or document into folders (and folders inside folders). What’s extra special is that you can organize cloud-based files as well. So you can make a folder and put a photoshop file, a Google doc, and a PDF together in the same folder. It doesn’t matter where things live permanently — they can all reside together in Basecamp. Drag and drop makes it super easy to get organized quickly as well. Drag anything into a folder and it’ll stay there. Drag it out and it’s back on the surface. Want the most important file in the top left corner? No problem — just drag it there and it’ll stay there.

Quick Switch: Change Basecamps without leaving Basecamp

Many people have more than one Basecamp account. They may have a business account and a personal account. Or two business accounts. Or one for their church, one for work, and one for a home improvement project. Now you can quickly flip between them by clicking the Basecamp logo in the top left corner of the screen and selecting any one of your other accounts.

Trix: Write right

Text editors on the web and on mobile have driven us all crazy. Unpredictable, inconsistent, what you see isn’t often what you get. So we spent a full year writing a brand new one from scratch. Consistent from desktop to mobile, writing finally just works! Besides just text, you can can drag in images right from your computer, snap a pic with your camera, and even paste images or files right in from your clipboard. Presenting ideas is so much simpler and more effective this way. It changes everything about how you write in Basecamp. We’ll be open sourcing it as well!

Phone & Tablet, iOS & Android: On hand

Basecamp 3 launches with amazing apps for iOS and Android. The experience on mobile will feel familiar to the desktop, but it goes above and beyond in ways only mobile apps can do. Timely push notifications, quick responses, snap a pic of the whiteboard and pop it right into Basecamp for reference, etc. It’s fast, it’s modern, it feels great. Basecamp 3 is a real pleasure to use on the go.

The Clientside: Front of the house, back of the house

A radical improvement to working with clients in Basecamp, Basecamp 3’s “Clientside” lets you keep discussions with your team, and discussions with your client, completely separate. You’ll be entirely confident that your clients will never see something they shouldn’t see or hear something they shouldn’t hear. Further, you’ll have all your client’s feedback and conversations neatly organized on the record so you can always CYA if something comes up down the road.

Gears & Threads: Communication is variable

People and projects move at different speeds. Sometimes quick back-and-forth informal chats are perfect. Other times you want to slow down, dig in, make a case, and present yourself more formally. Some people prefer email-style communication, others prefer more texting-style communication. Trying to force everyone to communicate the same way is like trying to fit everyone into the same size shoe. It’s not a good fit. From group chat to instant messaging to traditional discussion threads, Basecamp lets everyone involved communicate any way they’d like.

Schedules: Be on time

Basecamp 3’s schedules are designed to keep all the milestones, deadlines, and stuff with dates neatly organized and tidy. You can discuss anything on the schedule right on the item itself. You can even attach files to an event (like the presentation you’re going to need for that pitch next Friday). Further, we’ve got buttons to quickly add any event to your own personal Google, iCal, or Outlook calendar.

New To-dos: Line it up, knock it down

To-dos have always been a core feature of Basecamp. We leveled them up in Basecamp 3 in a bunch of ways. Now you can assign to-dos to multiple people. Now you can set date ranges, not just single due dates. Now you can bulk assign multiple to-dos with a single click. Now you can select multiple to-dos and move them as a group. Now you can attach entire documents, files, and notes to individual to-dos to make them mini projects in themselves. A serious upgrade!

Color-coding: Blush

Now you can color code any file or document (including Google Docs) to make it easier to highlight and locate key files. Turn that super important spreadsheet green. Or that emergency checklist red. Apply a flattering shade of yellow to make legal documents yellow like a legal pad. Go nuts, get organized.

Drafts: Right it before they read it

Now you can save any new message or document as a draft before you publish it. And you can share that draft with anyone else on the project before you publish it. Jot thoughts, edits, and proofread comfortably, confidently, and privately before you make it official.

An entirely new interface: Hot

Basecamp 3 is the best looking, best feeling, and best working version of Basecamp we’ve ever made. That’s a tall order, and bit of a humblebrag, but we think you’ll agree. We’ve maintained Basecamp’s world-famous ease-of-use and undeniable straightforwardness, while making it a happier, friendlier, better-looking place to work.

Adoptional: Adoption is optional

One of the hardest things there is is to get a bunch of people to agree on anything — especially which tool to use together. Some people want to use this, some want to use that. Some like dedicated tools, others prefer working via email or in person. Some don’t mind making accounts and passwords, other’s simply don’t want to be bothered setting up another “system”. Basecamp 3 has everyone covered. Anyone can participate in a Basecamp project without ever having to do anything other than replying to an occasional email.

Can you do this for me?: Send it out and get it back

Basecamp 3 allows you to see all the work you’ve assigned to other people. Plus, Basecamp will automatically let you know whenever someone finishes something you asked them to do. You no longer have to nag people to find out if something’s done — Basecamp do the follow-up work for you.

Hey!: The catch-all Basecamp inbox

Smack dab in the center of the top of the screen you’ll see the “Hey!” menu. Whenever someone @-mentions you, it’ll show up here. Whenever someone assigns you a to-do, it’ll show up here. Whenever someone completes a to-do you assigned, it’ll show up here. Message notifications and comment notifications — they all show up here. A single inbox for nearly every kind of Basecamp notification. Hey now!


That’s just a few of the new things coming to Basecamp 3. Make sure you get on the list for an early invite — it’s just around the corner.

Jason Fried

Written by

Founder & CEO at Basecamp. Co-author of Getting Real, Remote, and REWORK. http://basecamp.com