I’ve been using 37signal’s Backpack, for a number of years now. It’s a fantastic web application for keeping notes, lists, and other thoughts on the web. The text markup enabled within the application allows you to organize and style the content to make for easy viewing.
As much as I love web applications, there is something about having a desktop client to interface with the application. For a while, I was using a desktop client called Packrat. While Packrat is a pretty good application, I was open to trying other Backpack clients. I did like Packrat enough to name it one of my “Applications I couldn’t live without in 2007” however.
A number of months ago I started beta testing a new Backpack client called Backboard. While the functions of Packrat and Backboard are somewhat similar, the implementation is completely different. Packrat gives you a similar experience to the Backpack website by providing navigation to all your Backpack pages. Backboard groups all your tasks and notes which gives a fantastic overview that isn’t possible with Packrat.
Backboard went 1.0 a few weeks ago so I wanted to highlight the application. Backboard provides a great overview of your tasks, calendar events, reminders, and notes. You can see a screenshot of the UI below.
Backboard shows your tasks, events, reminders, and notes across all your Backpack pages. Switching between your notes and tasks (including events and reminders) is a simple click of the Tasks or Notes button in the middle of the application just below the Toolbar. Clicking the box on the left marks the task as completed.
As you would expect, editing and creating new tasks, events, reminders, and notes is possible. You can toggle the priority of tasks and set reminders for tasks too. If you have more than one Backpack account, Backboard allows you to switch between account via a simple drop down menu.
When you open the application it automatically syncs with the latest data from Backpack. The filter option within Backboard is great. If you know the name of a task, you can easily find it within your tasks list.
As with many 1.0 releases, there are a few things missing. URL’s located within notes and tasks aren’t clickable. You also can’t see deleted tasks. If you accidentally delete a task, you have to go to the Backpack website to undelete it. If you have Writeboards from within your Backpack account, those aren’t visible in Backboard.
Despite these omissions, Backboard is a wonderful piece of software. Best of all? Backboard is absolutely free. If you use a Mac and Backpack, give Backboard a try. I’ve found that it’s a great way to view and interact with my Backpack account.