Versions Part 2: Unsaved Files

Here's a Versions mistake I've made numerous times at this point.

  1. I open a document.
  2. I make some temporary or test changes — changes I don't intend do actually keep.
  3. Once I've seen what I need to see, I quit the application.

In the past I'd have been asked if I wanted to save the changes to the document. I would say no, because these were only temporary changes. But now these changes are saved to the document, and I've likely forgotten that I've made those changes. The next time I open the document I'm shocked to see that it looks completely wrong.

Yes, it's true, the upside is that I need merely look through the previous versions of the document in order to find and revert to the correct one. But I still find this problematic, and there are two reasons why.

First of all, under Versions there is no good way to make temporary changes to a document. This is something I do way more than I ever realized. It's not so much a feature of the old document saving paradigm as a side-effect of it, nevertheless it's extremely useful. And it breaks in potentially jarring and disconcerting ways under Versions. If you're used to making temporary changes to documents, then simply reverting by not saving the document, you may be in for a surprise one day. Let's just hope you remember to check your versions.

Secondly, the way this all works is simply too quiet. I've just opened a document, made changes to that document, and closed the document. There's nothing now to confirm that these changes have been made, and so they are committed to this new version quietly and without warning. Attempting to edit a locked document, on the other hand, is completely the opposite experience, with warnings and multiple dialogs replete with confusing text. It's a strange juxtaposition. But frankly, if I just made a bunch of unsaved changes to a document, a little confirmation dialog at quit time might be nice.

Look, I get that this is a new paradigm, and behaviors need to be adjusted to some extent. But the way Versions works isn't perfect, nor is it set in stone. It can and should be better.