More Hate For Autosave

Tom Ellard on OSX Lion’s autosave function:

Let me illustrate the problem. Today I’ve been marking. The students have submitted PDF documents. I open one and it has a scan in it I need to rotate to read. OK cool, rotate and read it, so I shut the document and up comes a warning that goes like this:

JUST THOUGHT I’D WARN YOU THAT I’VE BEEN OVERWRITING THE ORIGINAL PDF WITHOUT TELLING YOU. IT’S ON A NETWORK SO IF YOU EVER WANTED TO REVERT IT YOU’D BE SHIT OUT OF LUCK. BUT BECAUSE I’M FEELING GENEROUS I’LL GIVE YOU ONCE CHANCE TO UNDO IT. YOURS, TIM COOK.

YES / NO

What the? I didn’t want to edit the damn original! That’s a time stamped submission of an assignment! NOOO! NO! -click-

Disabling Locked Documents on Lion

The oddest thing about this tip is that it wouldn’t need to exist if Lion’s autosave function wasn’t fundamentally broken. It’s a feature that’s supposed to add convenience, but all I think it’s done for me is help me accidentally save over other files I use as a starting document.

Bottom line – I like things being saved when I hit the save button. It’s nice having a generated backup in case something crashes, but the final commit to disk? That should belong to me. Hitting Command+S isn’t an inconvenience, it’s a confirmation that things are saved the way I want them to be saved. Autosave removes that.

Versions and Autosave

Gus Mueller writes about how these Lion features complicate workflows in his image editor Acorn.1 I had a similar problem when using Byword this month. After meetings I write meeting minutes. These follow roughly the same format: a Multimarkdown document with headings for Old Business, New Business, and other miscellany.

I never made a template so until Lion my workflow for things like this was to open a previous document, do a “Save As…” and edit the new document. With Byword in Lion, which includes Autosave and Versions support, “Save As…” disappeared.

Byword Save as

I admit that the workflow is backwards, but anybody can see how scary it is for a user when they gradually learn they’ve unintentionally saved over documents they didn’t mean to save over.

As for the proper workflow, now I “Duplicate” the document, make edits, and when I want to Save, Byword offers to save it with a different filename.