How 37signals have progressed

It’s interesting to see how 37signals the company has progressed in the technical challenges they take on. First, with Basecamp, they solved the traditional web application problem. I’d been doing web apps, as opposed to web sites, and when Basecamp came out, it felt like they’d just nailed it.

Then with Ta-da list, they got their feet wet in AJAX, and found that it could make for effective user interfaces, but was clumsy to develop. Enter the AJAX support in Rails, which renders things server-side, and uses innerHTML to update the page. This was so much easier to work with, that they built Backpack with AJAX everywhere.

Next came Writeboard, which tests how they can do smaller applications and integrate them into their other offerings. A neat way to increase the value of a feature: Integrate it into for-pay products, making those more attractive, as well as running it as a for-free teaser like Ta-Da.

And now, with Campfire, we’re seeing them tackle the keeping-an-open-connection-to-the-server type of AJAX app.

This, of course, is just speculation on my part, I’m sure they’re really focused on the customer problems they want to solve, but it does look like there’s a thought behind it.

It’s good news for Rails and friends, as it keeps them moving forward.

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steven bristol

My impression, from reading jason, dhh, et al, is their methodology is more that they set out to write something that they need, figuring that if they need it, so do others.
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Lars Pind

Yeah, that is definitely part of the story, but there's also the selection process -- Writeboard, for example, was in the pipeline for a very long time before it was released, and CRM is also something they've thought about for a long time, though they haven't released it yet.
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