I have been a big fan of Basecamp from 37signals for years now. I think it’s the best project management system; easy to use, you don’t need to log in to use it (thanks to email integration), and it has some great features. Plus it’s mobile! Well…it was until they upgraded to Basecamp Next, which got a new API and a new design that doesn’t have a mobile friendly interface. This was a big bummer for me. Luckily, Everest came to the rescue.
I reference the ‘API’ a lot. For people not quite as nerdy as me, an API is an Application Programming Interface. It’s simply a way for other developers (and their apps) to get information from Basecamp Next.
Everest is (properly) self-described as the first and only Android application to support Basecamp Next. We can actually take that one step further: at the time of writing this, it’s the only app on any mobile platform to support Basecamp Next. So how does it stack up?
The interface is a pretty slick one; once you authenticate, which you do from right within the app, you’re taken to a list of your projects. Tapping one of the projects will take you to that project’s screen.
Single Project View
Please keep in mind (as I did) that some of the complaints I have may be due to the limitations of the Basecamp Next API, which I admittedly have not looked at myself.
On the single project screen, you’ll find everything you expect to find: Messages, Todos, Files, and Events, which is a news feed of everything happening for the project.
This is a nice area, and it even has “pull to refresh” which I love (and which is integrated through the entire app), but there are two complaints I have with this particular screen: it only pulls in the last 10 events, and tapping an event doesn’t do anything. I would expect it to take me to the actual comment, message, task, etc. However, these could be limitations of the current API.
It gets much better from the Events screen. Heading over to the Messages section, you will see an overview of all messages, and pressing one will take you to that message with attachments and comments. You even have the ability to post a new message or a comment.
I think this is a really well implemented section, however I did notice that, again, it’s only pulling in the most recent few messages, rather than all of them (there may be a date limit). I also noticed that there is some divergence between what the Android app calls a message and what the web app calls a discussion. Basecamp Next on the web combines all discussions – messages, comments, comments on tasks, and so on – into a single section called Discussions, whereas in Everest, discussions are separated out into Messages and Todos.
I think this was a good call on Everest’s part as, on a mobile interface with limited screen space, you likely want a way to locate messages quickly without have to scroll through project-wide comments.
I actually wish Basecamp Next’s web app had a dedicated Messages section. If one exists, I can’t seem to find it.
I would consider the Todos section the most important part of the app since you’ll likely be going here frequently to see what tasks you need to perform for the project. So how does it measure up? Let’s take a look:
You’ll notice on the Todos main screen, there is the master list of all todo lists, with the title on the Todo list and the text, “Data not available yet.” I’m not too sure what data they want to display here, but pressing a todo list will take you to a view of all the tasks regardless.
The app has “offline” access, which allows you to see everything without being connected to Wi-Fi or data. This is nice, but it doesn’t always refresh properly, so make you to refresh things which you’re viewing them after the first time.
Similar to the Messages section, you can view, add, edit, and comment on tasks, as well as mark them complete. You can also undo completing a task.
My complaint here is that you cannot easily see what your tasks are, either by highlight or your own tasks sections. Again, this may be an API limitation.
Everest also allows you to view uploaded files, with the ability to upload files coming soon (this will be a really nice feature addition).
Right now, when you tap a file, you’re kicked out to the browser to view it, where you’ll have to log in again. I am assuming the API doesn’t support file downloads, and with having to login in the browser, I’m not sure there’s an obvious way around having to leave the app.
All in all, this is a pretty nice app; I think it’s certainly worth the $1.98 it costs, especially if you’re paying $20+/month to use Basecamp Next. The developer, Vercingetorix Tech, seems very active in updating the app, claiming to be on a two week update cycle (I haven’t really been keeping track since I have automatic updates). They are also pretty aggressive with implementing new features of the API and new features in general, with the most notable upcoming features being Notifications and the ability to upload files.
The app is also relatively new, as is the Basecamp Next API. I think Everest is off to a great start with a clean, intuitive, and smooth interface and a lot of features packed into an app that is just three months old (the Basecamp Next API came out on March 30th of this year). I’m really excited to see where the app goes, especially with new features rolling out frequently!