Shape Up (a book from Basecamp)

July 24, 2019

A (free, online) book about how Basecamp does development

Basecamp’s rejection of the VC unicorn/rocket-ship track gives them the time and freedom to rethink conventional development wisdom.

Ryan Singer describes a mature way to write software, without buzzwords or overhead. Responsible teams, top-to-bottom slices of work, short delivery cycles — a good example of a company being ‘agile’ without getting caught up in faddish corp-speak.

I love the concrete direction on how to shape work before passing it off to a team. Each phase of development needs a different level of detail. This is difficult and important — it’s easy to over- or under-define up front, but design and dev have to be synced.

Recommended. You can read it for free at

Taylor Campbell is building ProjectPoll in the woods of Virginia