Better Software

Dan Hon contemplates:

Consider what would happen if we kept a rolling record of everything that had been done with files in a CVS-alike manner: now we can undo past save points.

n one mode of editing our mammoth every-version-ever Letter to Aunt May, there’s a scrolling timeline at the top of the document window. At the extreme right hand side is “now”, and at the extreme left hand side is when your letter was first created. We can scrub through this timeline and watch every single change that was made to the document. We can even scan through its history to find changes that were made at a specific time.

The timeline-scrubbing is but one way we can represent the temporal aspect of a file’s life. What we’ve been concerned with so far has been WYSIWYG with no regard to the actual history behind What You Saw: another way of visualising this mass of historical data is as a tree, with large edits becoming branches that may or may not be merged back with the trunk at a later date. A further way is as a composite: documents constructed from blocks that change over time.

Good point: I lost some stuff I wrote yesterday because I forgot that OpenOffice does not do an auto-save of files not in its native file formats. When these kind of things happen in today’s era where processing power and storage are no constraint, one has to wonder why we haven’t been smarter on the software side.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.