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Four Web Apps You Need to Know

Four Web Apps You Need to Know

R. Marc Phillips

September 29, 2009

Whether built into your product, rented from a third party, or installed via open-source, Web apps and protocols are becoming more and more a part of how we do business. Here are four you need to know about:


These days anyone can build a wiki, but few can compare to BaseCamp — one of the original Web 2.0 project management tools and the app for which 37Signals first built Ruby on Rails. Basecamp lets you share files, collect information, set and track milestones, create to-do lists, and leave messages for other team members in an interface that’s far more user friendly than most apps like Trac or Redmine.

Basecamp plans are available starting at $24 per month and going up to $149 a month for a plan that includes 50 GB of storage and an unlimited number of projects. There’s also a free plan that lets you track one project at a time but doesn’t allow file sharing.


Ever wish you could just get rid of all your Microsoft Exchange headaches and have someone else run e-mail and collaboration for you? That’s the promise of Zimbra, an open source Ajax-based e-mail, calendaring, and collaboration suite that many small and medium businesses swear by. Oh, right… Plus, it all works in your browser.

The browser-based mail client combines the best bits of Yahoo’s Web-based mail interface with full support for Exchange and iCal. There’s even a desktop client if you’d prefer to give your users an app that sits on their machine permenently. Zimbra is available from several hosting providers; as installable, fully supported software; or in an open-source version that you’re free to install, improve, and use as you will.


Bespin’s not fully baked yet, but its potential definitel makes it one to watch. Mozilla Labs is building Bespin as an open-source, web-based framework for editing code. And while Bespin is still in development, its potential to enable distributed groups of coders to work effectively is tremendous. Check out their intro video:

Introducing Bespin from Dion Almaer on Vimeo.


The so-called Real-Time Web is burning up the the Internets at the moment, and PubSubHubbub is one of a few apps that lets you take advantage of the hype. With so much energy building around Twitter, Facebook, and other real-time Web converstaions, it’s become increasingly important for companies to engage users more quickly across as many channels as possible.

Real-time Web protocols like PubSubHubbub go a step beyond RSS to enable that functionality. Here’s how they work:

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