Online Collaboration with Basecamp



Basecamp is web-based software that allows you to manage projects by posting messages, sharing files, creating to-do lists and tracking time. Communication is facilitated through the message, chat and writeboards features. This is a guide for Basecamp Classic.


Project Management Features

When you create a project, you have a number of features available to you that are visible in the

top menu:



Let’s go over these features…



Messages allows you to post messages and bring them to the attention of specific users. You can attach files as well.



You can view all the messages in a project anytime. Below is the “List View” option, but you can also use the “Expanded” view if you prefer.



To-Dos allows you to create to-do lists that allows you to track time working on a particular to-do list.


Once you’ve created the list, you will have the opportunity to assign specific tasks to users and set a deadline.



Milestones allows you to track deadlines and events. You can assign these deadlines to yourself or to someone else. You can add up to 10 milestones at a time.



The items added here are added to a calendar and you can optionally subscribe to the items using the 3rd party iCalendar.


The WriteBoard feature allows you to collaborate and track the changes to your document. It’s useful for a piece of your project that requires updating, brainstorming, etc.

Here’s a sample WriteBoard that has been updated with new information:


You can edit it, export it, flag a specific version and add a comment. You can also compare the difference between versions to track changes:


This will show you what was changed between the two versions:



Chat is an optional part of Basecamp and allows for text chat amongst users.


It operates using a Campfire account that is available at additional cost. Campfire account also include phone conferencing minutes. There is a free option of Campfire that allows up to 4 text chatters and 10 MB of storage, with no conferencing minutes.




The time tracking feature allows users to input their time working on various tasks. This is useful for managing your expenses and for billing clients, if applicable.



The files feature allows you to add files to your project. You can also view files that were loaded in the Messages feature as well.

Here you can see the file we’ve uploaded and there is an option to upload a newer version, so changes can be tracked.


You also have a few options when it comes to sorting, viewing files including date/time, alphabetically and file size. You can also view only documents, pictures or audio files. And finally, you can choose files loaded by a specific person.



Anytime you log into your project, you can see an overview of the recent activity, making it easy for you to locate items. There are also quick links to add new messages, to-do lists, milestones and files.


Basecamp offers a decent number of features for collaborating online and managing projects. It offers basic communication in the form of messages and optional text chat, but no web conferencing and recording as some other software offers.

Online Collaboration with Central Desktop


Central Desktop is web-based online collaboration software that allows you to manage projects and work with clients. It also allows you to create wikis, manage a blog and a user forum.

To get started, you can sign up at This guide will cover some of the software’s most useful features.

Feature Overview

When you log in, you’ll see Central Desktop’s main features:


As you can see, the program gives you plenty of options for managing tasks, projects and communicating with users. Let’s go through some of these features:

New Project Workspace

To get started, click “New Project Workspace” from the main page. You will enter the title of your project, a description and a unique URL for this workspace, making it easy for users to go directly to the project. You can also choose to have sample data included in your project, making it easier to use the workspace for your own purposes.


Once you’ve created the new workspace, you can navigate using the top menu:


Let’s walk through those functions.

Files & Discussions

This section allows you to upload files to your account and notify chosen users. The files are then searchable by keyword and tags. You can also add them to particular folders, for easier organization.


For “Discussion”, users can leave comments on a particular item.


You can change the subscribers of a particular file at any time, download it as a PDF, email the file and/or trash it anytime.


Tasks allows you to assign work to users and track the status. You can also upload files directly to this function. That way, the file will be attached to the task and users will also be able to search for it in the “Files” function.

As you can see above, you can:


• Assign the task to an individual or group.

• Copy someone on the task

• Attach files

• Make it a recurring task

• Set priority

• Add tags



This function allows you to track progress, manage multiple tasks and more. In our example, we’ve listed a number of tasks that need to be completed by a certain date and have assigned the milestone to a user who will be responsible for ensuring everything is complete.



With the calendar function, all your tasks, events and milestones will automatically appear, but you can choose to hide any of these.



You can also sync the calendar with Microsoft Outlook.


As you can see below, the calendar shows our tasks and milestones. It’s also easy to add a new event. When you put your mouse over a day, the words “New Event” appear. Just click the words and you can add the event.




This function allows you to add people to Central Desktop. Whether they are staff, contractors or even clients, you can add them and give them specific permissions, so they only access what they need to access.

You start by choosing internal or external members. You can also create internal groups,   so when you’re working on a project together, you can assign tasks to multiple people.



Here is what the permissions screen looks like. You can assign a member to certain project, give them read/write/delete/modify permissions and more.


Usage Reports

Under the “Settings” function, you’ll find an option for “Usage Reports”:


The reports you can view are:



We have chosen an “Activity Log Report” and it will give you a list of activities in a time period specified. You can exclude yourself from the search if you prefer to see what other users have been working on only.


The report also shows you which user completed each activity.

Other Features of Central Desktop

Beyond the basics of online collaboration, Central Desktop has some other features that might be useful for your company.

Web Meetings

A basic Central Desktop account includes Web Meetings, but you can only invite one attendee to your meeting. There are upgrade options available, if you need to host larger meetings.

To use web meeting, participants will have to download the “WebMeeting” software.


The meeting allows you to communicate through text chat and web cam. You can also use a white board, record your meeting and more.


Wiki allows you to create a knowledge base for your company. Here is a quick peek at a sample Wiki. Topics are shown, in alphabetical order, on the left and pages can be viewed and edited on the right. You can assign subscribers to the Wiki, so they can edit it as well.


Blog and Forum

There are two more communication features available and that is the blog and forum. A blog allows for more directed conversation (specific users can post, while others can comment) and the forum allows for more free discussion any assigned user can post a new topic. Blog and forum posts can be categorized, for easier browsing, helping create a further knowledge base for your company.


Time allows users to record their time spent on specific tasks. This can help you track your expenses and also allow for accurate billing of your own clients.




At anytime, you can view your Dashboard that gives you an overview of upcoming events and recent activity.


Overall, Central Desktop is a powerful online collaboration and project management tool, but may include too many features for some users. The addition of Wikis, forums and blogs may create disjointed communication and make it overwhelming for users to make sense of projects. On the other hand, these features do not have to be activated and the admin can customize the features available in each project, so this may not be an issue.