Basecamp is top dog at pulling together your projects – files, milestones, people, tasks – but what about getting it on with Google Apps? A quick trawl through forums and blogs reveals many are hankering after some sort of close-knit email or calender app with Basecamp, or widgets and plugins and whatnot going to and from Basecamp and Gmail or Google Apps.
But lets face it, Basecamp is not the advanced email client that Gmail is, so it’s unlikely it would be your default communications center. But it would be great to get the two talking.
For those of you out there wondering how to tie in Google Apps to Basecamp, here is how we do it.
Gmail Basecamp Integration
The neat thing about emailing into Basecamp is that the headers come through on the project overview screen (although Basecamp calls them comments), and any attachments end up as docs stored in the project. Here’s how to simplify this feature from within Gmail:
1. Create a Basecamp message straight away when you start a new project. When the email from Basecamp comes in to Gmail, ‘show header info’ (if needed) and copy the reply-to address (which Basecamp makes long and complicated as a necessity).
2. In your Gmail app, create a new contact. Name this something like Basecamp Acme, and give it the basecamp reply-to address. Now, when you have an email related to the project, you can forward to this contact by just typing a few letters of the contact name and hit send.
3. Create a filter on a related client, member or supplier to the project, and use the Basecamp reply-to contact as a forwarder. Have all email from a client or supplier related to the project feed directly into Basecamp.
Google Calender Basecamp Integration.
1. In Basecamp, select the iCalender link lurking at the bottom of the dashboard, and copy the URL text.
2. In Google calender settings, choose ‘Add calender via URL…’
3. Paste in the copied URL, and you should be up and running. If not try changing the first part of URL from “webcal” to “http”, so it looks like this [http://***.basecamphq.com/feed/project_ical?token=***&project_id=***].
4. Or do the above on a per project basis, by using the Ical feed link from within each project’s milestone calender.
Google Apps Start Page or iGoogle Basecamp Integration
1. Add the RSS feed from basecamp into iReader. You can do this globally from the dashboard for all projects, or create an iReader widget for each project which is a good way.
2. Set writeboard URL’s in a bookmark widget on iGoogle. You can get the URL’s from the top of each writeboard page in Basecamp. This is a great way of jumping into the project and reading/ adding notes in a wiki-like manner.
Other useful ideas
With the ‘reply-to’ address mentioned above, why not go further into hacking Basecamp?
1. Basecamp web monitoring. If your projects are like ours and center around SEO, then you can set up your web monitoring service to send alerts to the special project reply-to address. This means the team can see any server downtime or content changes related to the project.
2. Basecamp Google Alerts. As above, route your brand monitoring on Google alerts via a filter to the reply-to address for the team to see. Set for monthly!
3. Subscribe to a related blog with the reply-to address. See your client’s musings live in basecamp.
4. Set up analytics reports to send pdf’s to the reply-to address. See them neatly arranged in the docs section on Basecamp. Again, best for monthly overviews rather than the daily/ weekly views.
Some of the above suggestions might suck up that paid-for storage so be choosy with what you post into Basecamp – and don’t ruin it for the rest of the team by clogging up the overviews. Watch out for part 2 soon. What other ways have you found to get the two apps working togeteher?