Monday, April 07, 2008

Basecamp new Feature: "Reply by email"

37 signals launched a new feature in Basecamp: the ability to reply to messages posted on Basecamp directly with your email client. This is great; in principle it should make Basecamp messages more useful, and I always like to see more features added to the products we are using (and paying for every month!).

I gave it a try this morning. My assessment so far is that it doesn't work well enough to be useful. Until at least some of the issues are taken care of, I will not use this feature and I will not recommend that our clients use it either. Here are few show stoppers:

  • It doesn't deal well with end of lines. See for instance what other users will see when I post a message by sending a reply from Gmail:

  • When you reply to a message from your mail client, in most cases the mail client will quote the message and add before that something that reads: On Mon, Apr 7, 2008 at 2:51 PM, such and such wrote. This line isn't removed by Basecamp. It will stay there at the end of all your messages.
  • If you try to get around this issue by just removing the entire quoted text before typing in your message, your message won't back posted. You will receive an email from Basecamp telling you your message wasn't posted, but that reply does not contain a References header so it can be recognized as part of the same thread by your mail client, and it does not contain your message. So essentially you don't know which message didn't go through.

3 comments:

DHH said...

Thanks for trying out the new feature in Basecamp. As you note, it might not be perfect out the gate, but we'll continue to work on improving it. Part of the problem is the unstructured nature of emails and how different clients have different rules on formatting. We'll work on making things better for people using all the major clients, though.

Alessandro Vernet said...

Thank you for responding; very much appreciated. I understand that given the diversity of mail clients, this is not a feature that is easy to get right, and I am happy to read that you are planning to work on improving it in the future. Thanks guys!

Scriptwriter said...

Basecamp's weakest thing is that they don't develop the tool to much. Their users keep begging for new features, but as we all know "less is more", so everybody has to shut up. I have to admit I've got tired of this about a year ago. Now I'm with Wrike. More features for less money! Simply wonderful!