May 03, 2005

Backpack is a scaled-down personal version of Basecamp, an intriguing Web-based project management tool. (Thanks to Russ Beattie for the pointer.) I’ve played around a little with the free edition and it seems like a super-streamlined Wiki, with some basic structured-blogging concepts mixed in (you can create things like to-do lists, for example, with little checkboxes and reminders).

The interface is clean and easy to understand, but the whole experience left me a little underwhelmed. I just can’t come up with an example of a scenario where I would use Backpack; I already have plenty of tools to do the same things, and Backpack didn’t provide enough of an “Aha!” moment to show me why I should ditch those things and make the switch.

Of course, one could argue that Backpack isn’t aimed at me, and there’s probably some truth to that. But if it’s more for novices and Joe-User types, I’m not sure it works there either; it’s difficult to understand what Backpack is exactly even after you’ve used it for a while, and unsophisticated users tend not to be very forgiving of apps that take time to reveal their value to you.

A basic account is free, though, so if you think the Backpack concept sounds interesting, go ahead and try it out, you have nothing to lose. And be sure to share your experience in the comments to this post so I can get a sense of whether I’ve lost my marbles on this or not…

Posted by Jason Lefkowitz at May 03, 2005
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Ant's Eye View is edited by Jason Lefkowitz, a consultant and Web developer in Alexandria, Virginia. Got a question, comment, or concern? Let me hear it!

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