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Milestone basics

A milestone is a major event, launch or due date your team is working on. You can use milestones to mark the end of a project, the due date, or major events along the way.
For example, if your team is working on a website launch, all the things you need to do for that launch will be to-dos. The date of the launch and the dates you need to deliver different items will be milestones.
Milestones are separate from to-dos. To-dos are meant to be simple lists of items that you need to complete on a project. A task can be assigned to a user on your project and can have due dates. To-do lists can be made private to your own company.

An event is an occasion like a meeting or lunch, which doesn’t require a responsible party or a deliverable. Events are good markers for meetings or travel plans in addition to celebrations. Events won’t shift when you shift a milestone and can’t be marked “completed." Events are not a part of templates.

Some cans and cannots about milestones:
  • You can create milestones with specific times and date spans
  • You cannot specify end times
  • You can relate milestones to to-do lists to track which to-dos need to be finished to mark a milestone as complete
  • You cannot make milestones private — any milestones in the project will be visible to anyone that has access to the project
  • You cannot create a recurring milestone; it has to be recreated manually

Email notifications are automatically sent to the person responsible for the milestone. This email will go out twice – once to notify the person they’ve been assigned a new milestone and again as a 48-hour reminder.

Assign milestones

To create a new milestone that’s assigned to someone else, click on the “Calendar” tab. Then click the “New event” link at the top of the page. You’ll see the option to create either an event or milestone. You can also create milestones in bulk if you’re adding lots of them to the calendar.

You’ll see there’s an option to select the “Who's responsible” for the milestone. Pick the person you want to be responsible and hit the “Add this event” button.

To change who is responsible for an existing milestone, click on the “Calendar” tab. Then find the milestone you want, click on it, and make the changes needed. Just make sure to save them!

Please note it’s not possible to assign a milestone to more than one person. One milestone = one responsible person.

Milestones assigned to you

To see all milestones assigned to you, go to the Dashboard and click on the “Calendar” tab. In the top right corner, click on the drop-down menu where it says "Filter the calendar":

When you relate a to-do list to a milestone, you’ll see a link to that to-do list displayed under the milestone on the milestones screen. This allows you to see which to-do lists relate to a particular milestone.

To relate a new list to a milestone, choose the appropriate milestone from the pulldown below “Does this list relate to a milestone?” You can also relate an existing list to a milestone too. Just roll your mouse over the list title and click on the red “Edit” link that appears to the left. Then select the milestone you want.

Note: Checking off an item on the to-do list or completing the list entirely doesn’t automatically complete the milestone. The association is purely visual. You’ll still need to go to the “Milestones” tab and check off the milestone manually to mark it as done.

Relate a milestone to a message

When you relate a message with a milestone, a link to the message will appear below the milestone you select.

To do this, post a new message (or edit an existing one) and click the link that says “Does this message relate to a milestone?" You'll be able to choose the related milestone from that drop-down menu.

If this message is part of the completion of the milestone, you can select the checkbox next to “Completes this milestone.” The milestone will then be marked as completed in the “Milestones” section.

Files and comments on milestones

You can easily attach files and post comments on milestones.

To add a comment, click on the milestone title. In the box that opens up, click on the conversation bubble icon:

If someone comments on a milestone, you'll see a conversation bubble icon with the milestone's name. A green icon means there are new comments on that item. A dark grey comment icon means there are comments on that item, but you’ve already read them.

Clicking the comment icon will take you to the comments view for that milestone. Each comment also has its own permalink, so you can link up to that specific comment.

To add a file, click into the milestone as you would to add a comment. You'll be able to post a comment, and attach a file. 

You can also upload the file in the “Files” section and then link to the file inside the comment or milestone. To do this, right click (or Ctrl + click) on a filename on the Files tab, and copy the link. Then paste it in the to-do, milestone or comment.

Move milestones

Admins can move milestone by clicking on the find the link to  Move… when editing a milestone.

The  Move… link invokes a pop-over with a pull-down to select a destination project and some notes about what happens when you move that milestone.

When you move a milestone:

  • Any comments and attached files (attached to both the message and in comments) will move with the milestone
  • Any associated to-do list or messages WILL be moved with it
  • Responsible parties will no longer be assigned unless they are already part of the destination project

To move multiple milestones, click on a milestone and select its new date. Then check “Yes, shift future milestones too.” For example, check the box and move a due date out 5 days and Basecamp will also move all future milestones out 5 days as well. This shift will only apply to this project. Items entered as Events won’t be shifted.

Selecting “Keep shifted milestones off weekends” will move milestones that land on a weekend forward to Monday. Spanned milestones can’t be shifted.

See more on how the calendar works here.

Templates and milestones

Milestones can be included within project templates.

To add a milestone to a template, click the Templates tab (upper right on the Dashboard page).

You’ll default to the view for Project templates. Project templates let you set up a standardized project with to-dos, milestones, and messages. You can then use this project template to create new projects. A new project created from a project template will be auto-populated with all the to-do lists, milestones, and messages from the template. It’s a time saver that’s especially useful if you do lots of similar projects.

Click the "New project template" button and name your project template. Then set up the project template by selecting "Add the first milestone."

When setting up Milestones, you'll pick relative dates like “Week 1, Monday” or “Week 3, Wednesday”. These relative dates are then used to set up actual dates when you create the actual project.

You can only assign milestones or to-dos to people in your own company when you are creating the templates. When you actually create a project from a template you can go in and assign to-dos and milestones to anyone else from any other company that you assign to the project.