Introducing Satchel, Backpack on your iPhone

Like many of you, we’re huge fans of 37signals’ Backpack. It’s a terrific tool for organizing to do items, ideas, files: basically, all those things you need to keep track of.

Here at Stand Alone, we use it for keeping track of upcoming releases, feature requests, and generally anything we need to remember for longer than about 5 minutes (some may argue 2 minutes, but you get my point).

That said, using Backpack on an iPhone has been a frustrating experience. It’s a rich site, designed for a moderately large screen, and what it’s trying to do is really not well suited to Mobile Safari.

Well, that frustration is now over.

Today, after months of development and testing, we’re announcing Satchel, a super fast and functional native Backpack client, developed and optimized for the iPhone. We support all the features of Backpack that you know and love, on device — even when you don’t have access to the network!

With Satchel, you can easily view your Backpack pages:

All of your tags are listed along with the page name, and you can even sort by then, making organization much easier.
Of course, Pages are only the tip of the iceberg with Backpack, so we added a quick way to review page contents at a glance:

Once you’ve got your page contents listed, you can tap to view individual item details, edit and check off items from your lists, or add notes.

What’s even better is that all of this works online and offline: Satchel automatically and seamlessly synchronizes with Backpack’s servers as soon as a network connection becomes available. If you’re on a plane or otherwise ‘offline’, you can easily check all your cached Backpack data, make changes, and add new items. Once you’re back online, Satchel will automatically synchronize all your changes.

Over the development period, I’ve personally found Satchel has made Backpack even more useful than it was before (and I was a heavy Backpack user). For example, I’m using Reminders to keep a To Do list that actively mails or texts me when I need to get something done. And with Satchel, I can quickly check and see what I’ve got to do for the next day or so, then check again on my desktop computer when I get home.

Of course, we’re only scratching the surface here: Satchel offers a lot more of Backpack’s features, right in your iPhone. The best way to see what it can do is to check it out on the AppStore

Although we’re sure you’re going to love Satchel, this is only the first version — we have all sorts of great ideas to make it even better. Don’t hesitate to drop us a line if you think we’re heading down the wrong path with a feature or function — or, even better, to tell us that you love it as much as we do.

15 Responses to “Introducing Satchel, Backpack on your iPhone”

  1. Dave Dennis Says:

    I love Satchel and Backpack. Just curious though. When can we expect calendar support?



  2. Glenn Says:

    Calendar support is included in v.1.1, which we’ve already submitted to the App Store and (if accepted), will be available any day now!

  3. Matt Says:

    Is there a trick to syncing with Backpack?

    My Satchel app can’t seem to sync to my Backpack page. I have stuff that’s been updated on my iPhone for 3 days and it still hasn’t appeared on my Backpack page on screen.

    I love the app, but if it can’t sync, what’s the point…

  4. Brian Says:

    I love Backpack adn Satchel both. So much that I have a personal and work backpack. Is there a way (or would you consider adding) that a user can select an account at login and chose which backpack they want to use without having to change the settings?

  5. Ben Gottlieb Says:

    Dome! Go into you Satchel Settings and tap the Edit button. There you can add additional accounts.

  6. Marek Kowalczyk Says:


    In your implementation of Backpack Calendar, you’ve fallen into the trap of displaying info by Month. “Month” is pretty artificial and useless. It’s just a convention.

    “Next 6 weeks” view — that’s how the 37’s have done it — and for a very good reason.
    It is an action-oriented view!

    Please, include “Next 6 weeks” in Satchel, instead of “Month”.

  7. Ben Says:

    We modeled our Month View on the built-in Calendar provided on iPhone. We’ll look at implementing a 6-week look ahead, but I can’t make any promises. Thanks for the feedback!

  8. Nele Says:

    I’m taking a look at Satchel view (thanks, by the way, it’s really appreciated) to see whether I want the whole Satchel or not. One thing I’ve been wondering about though: what happened to the writeboards? I can’t seem to access those…

  9. Glenn Says:

    Unfortunately, writeboards aren’t included in the Backpack API so we cannot provide support for them in Satchel at this time. Sorry!

  10. Eric Says:

    Satchel is pretty handy for me – good job! The organization I work with uses the Newsroom messages extensively for what are basically discussion thread pages. Any support for Newsroom on the horizon? Thanks.

  11. Ben Says:

    We’re looking at Newsroom support, but there are a few things holding us back right now. We do hope to add this!

  12. alex Says:

    I would love to have an app like this for WebOS.

  13. Bob Says:

    Any news on Newsroom support? Just bought the app and was disappointed I couldn’t use it for messages, which our team uses frequently.

    Is it not supported by the API?

  14. Ben Gottlieb Says:

    Sorry, Newsroom is currently not supported by the Backpack API.

  15. Kevin Fullerton Says:

    Satchel takes forever to sync with my backpack calendar and it often doesn’t sync at all. Other times I’ll have events on my calendar one minute, and they’ll be gone the next. It simply doesn’t work for me. Anyone else having these problems?