Tuesday, December 05, 2006

hot damn. basecamp on my treo.

Looks like a few weeks ago someone released a Basecamp client for several mobile platforms, including my favorite, PalmOS.


I'm working on 2 short films, a documentary, and another documentary right now on top of my day job, and the busier I get, the more Basecamp reveals itself to be a lifesaver. This little palm app, Tracker, is ugly, seems to be written in Java, flaunts palm UI conventions and has a frankly bizarre setup procedure. It also seems to work, and right now that's where the bar is.

For anything I manage by myself, I still love you SHADOW, the best outliner anywhere...but the collaboration thing is so undeniable once you start seeing it in practice, and being locked out of basecamp by the Treo's low-end mobile browser is very frustrating. Tracker seems to work by using a server backend to grab info from Basecamp and then pass it along to the handheld; it has to re-sync a project from time to time, but it's all there - milestones, messages, comments, to-dos. Actually...alllll the to-dos are there, even completed lists, which is a bit annoying...clearly still a 1.0 product. Also, no writeboards, but it's understandable; that could be pretty tricky on a small screen.

Making Basecamp genuinely mobile is a huge step - I'd been considering picking up PalmOS development myself again to do this one - and so I am thrilled to have Tracker around. I assigned it a hot-key within 5 minutes.


James said...


Thanks for your comments on Tracker. We are working on making this a prettier and nicer to use on the Treo, but I would love to get any specific feedback from you on ways to improve this. As you indicated, this is not a native PalmOS app, but is a Java application that supports a number of different platforms. As such, there are some limitations based on the Java Engine we are using, and this does end up not looking like a PalmOS app, but we are working on making this more natural for the PalmOS users. I'd be very intersted in specific things that you would like to see changed in the UI, so we can try to address these in our facelift.

Also, we are simplifying the installation process, and expect to get this out later this week.

One final note, we don't have an intermediate server, but we store some of the higher level info locally on the phone for faster response, rather than hitting the Basecamp server for every page, which is why you need to resync to get the latest changes from other users, for example, if someone added a new post or milestone. We are looking at using the RSS feed as a way of doing this more automatically and efficiently in an upcoming release.

Feel free to contact us if you have other ideas on ways to make the application better!

James Storey

synchro said...

Hi James - thanks for your response.

I'm very happy with Tracker, I need to re-iterate. Thanks for clearing up the proxy server question, and I'm glad to hear you're streamlining the activation. It's a small thing, but will help people just get on with business more quickly.

I discovered that turning on hi-res and double-buffering in the Java VM prefs helps a bit with the look of the app.

I'll send along some more specific notes via email, but I'll also add for the readers here that before this comment posted, James had already demonstrated some very positive and quick support. And I'll add that while it is 1.0, it's a pretty impressive 1.0.