What is it?
BackPack launched in early May 2005, and it is one of the defining web 2.0 applications.
BackPack does one thing very, very well – organize your personal information online. It has a basic package that is free, and it is one of the first applications built on AJAX and Ruby on Rails. If you aren’t familiar with these development platforms, all you need to know is that data transfers and page updates occur without submitting and refreshing, it is lightning fast and there are NO client downloads to deal with. BackPack is a perfect use of these emerging development technologies. To understand how this technology kicks web 1.0 in the pants, just compare it to Microsoft’s One Note (which I used for about 10 minutes before never opening again).
At its core BackPack is an information management tool. It is one of the showcase applications created by 37 Signals, along with Basecamp (“Project Management Utopia”) and Ta-Da Lists (“Make Lists and Get Stuff Done”).
In their own words, “â€œWe call it useful” Some have called Backpack “a wiki with out the wacky.” Others have called it “blogish.” Others have said it’s a project management tool for all the little things in your life. Some say it’s a application that helps you get things done. Some have called it Basecamp’s little brother. Call it what you will. We call it useful and hope you do too.
Last but most: Clear, Simple, and Fast. At the heart of Backpack is simplicity and clarity. Things work the way you’d expect them to work. Everything complex has been tossed so the tool is simple to the core. In fact, nothing takes more than a few seconds. Our “Ajaxed” interface elements eliminate reloading hassles. Backpack gives you the benefit of the web (centralized access, no install, no IT nightmares) without the downsides of the web (reloads, slowdowns, poor interfaces). Information management on the web has finally been realized. Backpack it.ï¿½?
There are a number of suggested uses, with screenshots here . In our opinion, the key uses are to create pages of to do lists, planning for trips or events, taking and updating notes on products, etc. The great thing about it is how easy it is to create a new page, and add text and files, including images. You can share those pages with friends or the whole world. After you create pages, you can group them in any way you think is appropriate. There are no mandatory fields, complex multi-step processes, or specialized “buckets” for data.
Pricing: A basic account is free. Upgraded accounts have a monthly fee of $5, $9, or $19 (see the last screen shot below) (more $ = more storage and more reminders). You need at least the $5/month option to get some file storage space.
- Home page to easily manage all sub-pages
- Easy to make new pages
- Easy to add content to a page â€“ links, notes, files, images, etc.
- Set reminder feature, with reminders via email, sms or RSS
- Tagging of pages
- Sharing of pages (public or just friends)
- email pages
- email data to a page (like posting a picture to flickr with a cameraphone)