Signal vs. Noise

Signal vs. Noise

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How we achieve “simple design” for Basecamp and HEY

Yesterday I got an email asking how we achieve simple designs for Basecamp and HEY, so I hastily tweeted a screenshot of my answer, and a lot of people responded to it. A few folks pointed out that my screenshot was illegible for blind users, so I’m reposting it here in full text, with a bit of additional commentary below. At a high...

The evolution of HEY: from humble beginnings to a multi-platform email service

Two weeks ago we released HEY into the world, the culmination of 2+ years of explorations and intensely focused work. It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: inventing a new product from scratch is one hell of a challenge. It’s the toughest thing you’ll ever do as a product team. There are a million reasons why it won’t work, and zero...

Towards carbon negativity

Humans have been pumping greenhouse gases into Earth’s atmosphere at an unsustainable rate. It’s on us to reverse course as quickly as possible to stay below the tipping point of 1.5℃ global warming. Without action, the future is beyond bleak. At Basecamp, we’re committing to becoming carbon negative for our cumulative history and moving forward.The...

Running spot instances effectively with Amazon EKS

Since we started working on HEY, one of the things that I’ve been a big proponent of was keeping as much of the app-side compute infrastructure on spot instances as possible (front-end and async job processing; excluding the database, Redis, and Elasticsearch). Coming out of our first two weeks running the app with a real production traffic load, we’re...

Black Lives Matter

Today, on Juneteenth, it is important to us to take a pause and publicly recognize organizations, activists, campaigns, and journalists that have been doing the work, fighting everyday for a more just tomorrow. The following are contributions from individual Basecampers. Jabari, Burlington, VT, US Organizations: Cooperation...

Celebrating 3 million accounts (fewer)

We recently deleted over three million accounts across all our apps. This was the answer to a question we asked ourselves last year: what should we do about  accounts that weren’t cancelled, but weren’t used either? Should we keep hold of their data forever?  That felt wrong – we promise to delete data when you cancel your account. Keeping so...

On current events

It’s easy to say what a year, what a week. But that’s a shortsighted, privileged point of view. I’m guilty of holding that occasional perspective. It’s moments like these that jolt me into recognizing the deeper reality. What we’re seeing is the culmination of years – decades, generations, and centuries – of unjust treatment against black...

Employee-surveillance software is not welcome to integrate with Basecamp

We’ve been teaching people how to do remote work well for the better part of two decades. We wrote a whole book about the topic in 2013, called REMOTE: Office Not Required. Basecamp has been a remote company since day one, and our software is sold as an all-in-one toolkit for remote work. Yeah, we’re big on remote work! So now that COVID-19 has...

Hiring programmers with a take-home test

There’s no perfect process for hiring great programmers, but there are plenty of terrible ways to screw it up. We’ve rejected the industry stables of grilling candidates in front of a whiteboard or needling them with brain teasers since the start at Basecamp. But you’re not getting around showing real code when applying for a job here. In the...

Seamless branch deploys with Kubernetes

Basecamp’s newest product HEY has lived on Kubernetes since development first began. While our applications are majestic monoliths, a product like HEY has numerous supporting services that run along-side the main app like our mail pipeline (Postfix and friends), Resque (and Resque Scheduler), and nginx, making Kubernetes a great orchestration option...

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