TeamLab Rolls Out Documents Management & More

Not that long ago I published a post called TeamLab vs Basecamp: A Project Management Duel where I looked through the pros and cons of the two project management systems. We all seem to know where Basecamp is heading, but today I’d like to give you a small update about TeamLab.

Just a quick note — TeamLab is a project and business management system developed by a company called Ascensio System SIA based in Latvia. They seem to be growing and definitely working hard on their product which is available in two flavors, self-hosted via the open source version, available on SourceForge and a SaaS solution hosted in the Amazon cloud.

The recent changes to TeamLab included new project templates, a real-time chatting module, some cool additions to the tasks area, and of course their brand new documents module with a neat integration with OpenOffice via a plugin. It doesn’t seem like they’re after the Google Docs market, but managing your documents inside your corporate portal without having to use third-party online and offline applications with files going back and forth is definitely a plus, although I’d personally prefer a full integration with Google Docs.

Quite user-friendly to me, though I can’t remember the last time I had to work with word documents or spreadsheets, heh, it’s all about code these days ;)

Now that they’re done with their Docs part, it seems like they’re after the CRM module, let’s see what they make of that. I had a bad experience working with 37signals’ Highrise API, though the application itself works like a charm. And the reason I thought about the API first rather than the web interface itself, is because I believe that the API is essential to any, especially web-based CRM system out there. I had my good days with SugarCRM, their SOAP API is crap, but it works, done a major website integration there ;) Watch out Salesforce!

Oh and for their next modules poll I voted for SCM integration. I’d really love to see a full-blown Git, Mercurial or Subversion integration. It seems like TeamLab didn’t have this in mind at all, while Basecamp have a big list of such extras already: Basecamp Extras: Software Development.

Cheers and have fun managing your projects!

TeamLab vs Basecamp: A Project Management Duel

Team. Team, team, team.. How good is your team if you can’t manage it? This reminds me of an IT Crowd episode:

Well if you can’t work as a team you’re all fired! .. Hello security? Everyone on floor 4 is fired.

As some of you already know, I run a little web development startup here in Moscow called Frumatic and during the past few months we’ve been struggling to get our project management and collaboration right. I don’t think there’s a reason for me to write about how important project management is and that no good business today could live without a good CRM, PM, SCM and the rest.

Today we’ll speak about two awesome project management systems – Basecamp and TeamLab. Both services are quite cool and look alike in some sense. I’ll try to outline the pros and cons of each app, then give a short tip on how to make your choice between the two. Let’s start off with Basecamp.

Basecamp by 37signals

Basecamp has been developed and launched by 37signals back in 2004. Since then it’s been evolving, new very nice features have been developed, and today, Basecamp is a very powerful project management and collaboration tool, offered as a service (SaaS). Basecamp wouldn’t be complete without it’s sisters Highrise (CRM), Backpack (business organizer) and perhaps Campfire (chat) and of course the Basecamp Extras and the Basecamp API which gives developers the power to mash their software with Basecamp.

Basecamp Pros

Let’s start with a short list of Basecamp pros. I’m sure there are tonnes of others:

  • Web-based and easy to use
  • Fast and secure, powered by Amazon S3
  • Maintaned and supported very well
  • On-going development, enhancements
  • Offers tonnes of extras and a public API
  • Offers time tracking

Basecamp Cons

And here’s a list of Basecamp cons. I found some of these quite annoying, but despite that, I still love Basecamp ;)

  • Quite expensive (good plans start from ~$50/mo)
  • Not very customizable, all you can change is the logo and color scheme
  • Does not offer self-hosted version
  • Does not allow to use your own Amazon S3 account to host your data
  • Quite poor CRM and Business Organizer
  • Basecamp Extras are poor, some of them are even commercial

Yeah, paying for software is not a crime, but in my opinion, Basecamp is slightly overpriced, plus you’ll have to pay extra if you’d like to get Backpack or Highrise (which is quite a poor CRM actually, I found SugarCRM CE, which is open-source, much better than Highrise). Now let’s see what TeamLab is all about.

TeamLab by Ascensio System

I came across TeamLab a few weeks ago and I found it to be quite terrific! TeamLab was launched this summer, somewhere in the beginning of July I guess. It’s based in Latvia, where Russian is quite a popular language by the way ;) TeamLab is written in Microsoft ASP .NET (C#) which makes it quite easy to understand. As it is a startup they haven’t yet implemented their monetization plan, so TeamLab is offered free of charge as SaaS or open source for download. You can deploy TeamLab in the Amazon EC2 cloud and use S3 for file hosting, which is quite wikid!

TeamLab Pros

Below is a list of pros I found for TeamLab. These may change in the future ;)

  • Free and open source, released under GPL
  • Compatible with Amazon EC2 and S3
  • Web-based, easy to use
  • Offers a full-featured Company Intranet and a Wiki
  • Quite active on Twitter
  • Offers import and export

TeamLab Cons

The cons of TeamLab from a php developer’s perspective (ASP .NET is good, but .. well ;)

  • Written in ASP .NET
  • Does not offer time tracking
  • Has some bugs, like any other startup ;)
  • Does not offer extras, mobile or API (maybe it’s only a matter of time)
  • Will not remain free of charge forever (I guess)

The last point may or may not be true. Like any other startup, TeamLab will go commercial at some point. I spoke to the representatives of TeamLab on Twitter and e-mail, and I’ve been told that all the functionality included in TeamLab now will remain free of charge in the SaaS and the open source downloadable package, but new features will require you to pump their back accounts with money. This is very optimistic indeed, as we’ve already seen such trouble with Sugar CRM Community Edition and Mockingbird, which is planned to go commercial on August 15th.

Making the right choice

Personally, I’m using Basecamp, but TeamLab made quite a good impression, and I do have thoughts about switching. What would make switching much easier is .. Import! An Import from Basecamp feature would be awesome, besides they offer all the tools (API) and documentation to do that.

TeamLab does though offer import and export, but from their own system and that’s good to go, especially since you can have your own self-hosted TeamLab, which would be preferred by large companies, as they do not usually trust third-party services.

So, if you’re worried about security, need time tracking and CRM integration, then yes, Basecamp is definitely your choice. But if you’re willing to play around and build solutions on top of, then go with TeamLab, as you will always be able to have your own extras running inside TeamLab Open Source. This will also save you some cash ;) Thanks for reading!