Lighthouse: Basecamp for developers?

29 March 2007

I just received the launch announcement for Lighthouse hot off the press from the two guys that brought you Mephisto – the Rails blogging software I use to run this blog.

With an app authored by Rick Olson and Justin Palmer you expect something good and at first glance Lighthouse seems to deliver. Rick is a member of the Rails core team and a big contributor to the Rails plugin scene, his subversion repository alone leaves you in no doubt as to the strength of his Rails-Fu. Jason is a member of the Prototype core team and based on the visuals and javascript magic on the back-end of Mephisto I’d say he’s pretty good as well. So really, a pretty awesome partnership…

A first look picture.png

Recognise that screen cap? Looks a lot like Basecamp to me, but I think that’s ok… 37 Signals have really hit on a winning formula with their interface, it works well in Mephisto which as a similar layout and it works well here as well.

The ticket tab Picture2.png

Lighthouse allows you to manage what is going in within your projects, it tracks tickets and milestones much like industry staple Trac but does it with a lot more style, sophistication and importantly – simplicity. An interesting addition, also in the style of Basecamp, is the “Messages” tab which allows you to track messages and keep track of communications over time, something which is definitely important to any project and in the past was solved with a developers mailing list.

The messages tab Picture 1.png

It’s late and I don’t want to do this product an injustice so I’ll quickly skim over the other features of note… an api to allow external integration (examples are with subversion commit notices at the moment), ability to set projects as public, ability to create and respond to tickets via email as well as watching other tickets (and getting email notification of changes).

Prices seem pretty good as well – although the way features map to price points I’m not sure I’ve seen an ‘ideal’ plan for me. In terms of the number of projects you can manage the Bronze price plan is the best for me personally. However I don’t think the number of people per account reflects the number of people that may wish to report bugs. If every member of staff at one client company wanted a login to report bugs then that might use up my entire allowance, but at the same time what does it mean to make the project “public”. I might want people from that company to come and report bugs but I don’t want the whole world to see it – am I supposed to give that company one login to share?

Picture 2.png

I intend to give Lighthouse a good test out on a few project I’m working on at the moment so I’m sure I’ll have a few more points to add in the immediate future.


  1. Stephen Says:
    Cool! It certainly does look like Basecamp - first thing that hit me before I started to read. Although I do think it looks slightly 'cleaner' than 37 signals version. I look forward to a user comparison test v basecamp :) I wonder, can you share/combine projects from multiple accounts with Lighthouse? That would be super!
  2. David Says:
    As a matter of fact you can! I am now member of several projects in Lighthouse that other people have setup, all using my one individual login. This is a very nice feature and something I'd hope to have in Basecamp (or is this possible already?)
  3. rick Says:
    Thanks for the nice comments. I'm curious in any feedback folks have with users. The intent is not to limit companies to one login though. And yes, we intend for you to use one user profile to work with multiple accounts. Clients I've worked with usually like to own their services, such as Basecamp, etc. That way we're not juggling accounts when the project has completed and I move on to something else. I don't quite know if this is a good thing or not though. I think it's pretty cool, but it's caused a bit of confusion with the early adopters :)
  4. disco Says:

    Good work. Continue write.

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