Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?
GUI Software

Modernizing the Save Icon? 365

floppy-less asks: "In nearly every modern GUI, the floppy disk icon is used to symbolize saving files. With the fate of floppy disks becoming apparent, what will become of the esteemed 'Save to Disk' icon? Will it become a CD-R? a hard drive? a portrait of Jesus?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Modernizing the Save Icon?

Comments Filter:
  • CYA (Score:3, Funny)

    by Graelin ( 309958 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @07:36PM (#8593709)
    It'll be a butt with a checkmark over it.
  • by KlaatuVN ( 213930 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @07:36PM (#8593711)
    Moses invests.

  • Plastic wrap, or foil, how about tupperware. How about a wedding ring, symbolizing commitment?
  • by ERJ ( 600451 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @07:37PM (#8593724)
    Just guessing here, but it will probably stay the same for quite some time. Truthfully, to me, it has already lost meaning as being a floppy and has become the defacto save. If fact, I wouldn't be suprised if it lasts long enough so that most people might not know what the origin of the icon really is...
  • by avalys ( 221114 ) * on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @07:37PM (#8593725)
    Who says it has to change? People know that the floppy disk on an icon means it has something to with saving: why waste the effort changing it, and dealing with the confusion that would inevitably result?

    Names and icons don't have to be literal to have meaning: floppy disks aren't really floppy anymore, are they?

    My laptop has an LCD screen, but I don't get confused when I go into Windows display properties and see an icon for a CRT.
    • The 3.5" variety just happen to be covered by a plastic exoskeleton and a metal access door. If you take apart one of these and one of the soft covered 5.25" floppies, the media are essentially the same.
    • by ptolemu ( 322917 ) * <> on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @07:58PM (#8593904) Homepage Journal
      "People know that the floppy disk on an icon means it has something to with saving: why waste the effort changing it, and dealing with the confusion that would inevitably result?"

      In a time where people are either toatlly into working with computers and those who are just getting the hang of things, I think this totally makes sense. When was the last time stop signs changes or that red changed to green with traffic lights? Meaning and symbols in most respects have never had intrinsic mieaning so why change them now? Put a CD instead of a floppy and you'll have people thinking that they'll start up a CD burning app, put a USB symbol there and most people will be simply confused. Although symbolically inaccurate -- I for one never use floppies except when rescuing old computers -- I think that it is important to uphold this feature in particular as it is widely used across all platforms and in virtually all applications. Might even give those who couldn't care less a little insight into how symbols really don't have anything to do with thier meaning, or in this case, thier function.
    • Of course floppies are still floppy. Open the plastic case and look inside one. Just because the casing is harder than on the 8" or 5 1/4" floppies . . .
    • > My laptop has an LCD screen, but I don't get confused when I go into Windows display properties and see an icon for a CRT.

      Ah, but Microsoft has updated [] the Windows control panel icon for Displays. And they've done so at a point in time (2001) when CRT's are still hugely common (and useful). Compare the CRT to a floppy, and the floppy is far more obsolete.

      I just asked my non-geek roommate, "What's the last time you used a floppy disk?" And he thought for a minute and said, "I can't remember!" That's
      • I just asked my non-geek roommate, "What's the last time you used a floppy disk?" And he thought for a minute and said, "I can't remember!" That's how yesterday the floppy disk is. Sure, it's needed to boot a computer that's so old it can't boot from CD, but that just means a rescue floppy has a place in a PC maint/repair kit, along with spare jumpers, and a Windows 95 install CD. It doesn't make it any less obsolete.

        Ah, but can you give me one example of another computer storage media that is as widely s

        • by danielsfca2 ( 696792 ) * on Thursday March 18, 2004 @02:24PM (#8601116) Journal
          The sibling (ScottSpeaks!) hits the nail on the head that the floppy actually lacks compatibility with many modern systems. Who cares if it works in an ancient one if it doesn't work in your main system, which is usually involved in every important file transfer. There's no floppy drive in my PowerBook (and I'd be pissed if there was one, because that's extra, useless weight and bulk).

          > Yet no one seems to really be able to offer something as good in return...

          It's called the Internet. I don't even hang out with anyone on dial-up, let alone completely non-Internet-enabled so even the roundabout method of e-mailing a file attachment works like a charm, especially on tiny, sub-1.4MB files like those that fit on a floppy. Ten seconds.

          And if you say "what if that computer's net connection is disabled and it needs to be booted/repaired/given a file and a floppy drive is all it has..." remember my original point, that a floppy (and perhaps a USB floppy drive if your other computers are all modern) belongs in your repair kit, not in every computer made. EDO RAM falls in this same category.

          > ...write-on-the-fly CD-RW, USB flash sticks or ZIP disks, are severely outnumbered and handicapped by the competition among various vendors trying to impose their own proprietary products.

          I haven't noticed this replacement was the USB sticks, and I also haven't really found a non-compatible computer recently. If you're going to be dealing with computer so obsolete that it has no USB ports, well then, either it's yours (upgrade!) or it's a special occasion (in which case burning a CD would be cheaper (50 were US$8 the last spindle I bought), faster on both ends (floppies are dog slow, although I spotted a "2x" USB floppy drive the other day at work), and worth the five seconds to fire up Nero.

          Oh, but don't ever plug a non-write-protected USB key into an XBOX (while running its non-hacked OS). It will say "There was a problem with a memory card. It has been erased." Ouch.
    • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @10:36PM (#8594960) Homepage Journal
      Radio buttons in dialogs.

      For you real young 'uns, up until the late 80's car radios had analog tuners and station presets were controlled by push buttons that had state. Only one button could be in at a time, and if you pushed another button it would pop out to the unpushed state.

      Modern digitally tuned radios do have buttons, but they do not have any visible persistent state. They are momentary contact.

      We keep using "radio buttons" in dialogs because the ergonomics are similar: we want to indicate that an exclusive choice is to be made and show the current state of the choice. They just work. But future generations will scratch there head and wonder what "radio" has to do with anything. They'll probably come up with some strange explanation.

      It reminds me of one job I had in the 80's at a company that used Macs. All the mac users had been trained by Unix people, and these in turn had trained other people. By the time I got there, it was common for people to have a folder where they organized programs, helpfully labelled "Bin of Applications".

      • It's like telling my kids that they "sound like a broken record" - I own one record player that I've never used and have had CD's for longer than they've been around.

        Expressions like that stick around but may not mean much to those with no real frame of reference.
  • by phraktyl ( 92649 ) * <wyatt.draggoo@com> on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @07:38PM (#8593727) Homepage Journal
    I actually wouldn't have noticed if any of the toolbar icons had changed. Save is either CTRL-S or :wq, depending on whether or not I'm having a good day (:wq) or a bad day (CTRL-S). I can't remember the last time I did something with a tool bar. Even web browsing, the only feature I use from the bar is to type in URLs. Back, forward, refresh---all hotkeys.

    I'm sure they are important to some people, but I'm not going to see it.
    • And both are a heck of a lot better than 'Alt, f, s, Alt, f, x', the way it was done with EDIT under DOS.
    • by pla ( 258480 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @10:14PM (#8594847) Journal
      Even web browsing, the only feature I use from the bar is to type in URLs. Back, forward, refresh---all hotkeys.

      Waaaaay offtopic (show some love, Mods), but have you checked out the "Personal Toolbar" on Mozilla since v1.4? Go into the about:config and set "" to "true", and "" to "2" (I have no idea why Mozilla has these off by default, with not even a regular preferences option to turn them on). Now, all of the bookmarks in your "Personal Toolbar" folder will use icons (each will update after the next time you click it), allowing you erase their text description completely and still use them. So, instead of fitting a dozen or so personal favorites as a mere line of densely packed text, you can fit almost 50 of them on a typical screen.

      For an extra 20 pixels of horizontal space, I no longer need to use any of the bookmark folders, and only rarely need to type in a URL. And if the icons hit the end of the personal toolbar, just do a "sort folder" by "last visited", and get rid of the ones you never use.

      Truly wonderful. I too used to consider all the stupid little toolbar icons as less than useful (they take up screen space, after all!), but since discovering you can basically have an iconic representation of your most commonly used bookmarks, I've "learned to love the bomb", so to speak.

      My only wish regarding the personal toolbar... I figured out how to make it 32 pixels high (just stick "toolbarbutton.bookmark-item > .toolbarbutton-icon{height: 32px !important; width: 32px !important;}" in your userchrome.css), but that just stretches the 16x16 icons rather than using actual 32x32 icons. Though at least, if the icon only includes a 32x32 icon, it will use that correctly. But aside from that peeve, I consider this the best thing to happen to web browsers since standardized CSS support.
  • why change? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nadda ( 613664 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @07:42PM (#8593759)
    Last time I saw a thread like this, consensus was that the general public wouldn't know what a hard drive looked like if you tried to use that.
    • I've come across dozens of people who seriously believe that the computer casing is the hard drive. Anything within the big box with the power button is the hard drive to them.
      What makes it much, much worse is that they NEVER LEARN. Ever! I've tried explaining it to some of them several times to no avail.

      (-1 Redundant)
      • well i am sure we all have seen this. People who think the monitor is the computer, the whole computer is the cpu, the hardrive is the box on the floor etc etc. My grandma even thought you had to have paper in the printer to start typing. but its no big deal nod and smile. Now what gets me is when people have a problem and are asking for help. They say my Microsft windows is broken, what they really mean is that word is misbehaving when printing. I contract for a small office doing tech support/it stuff. I
      • D00d, you are so wrong...that big box is the *CPU*. Duh.
      • by dheltzel ( 558802 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @10:38PM (#8594963)
        I've come across dozens of people who seriously believe that the computer casing is the hard drive.

        Me too! But I tell them "That's wrong, if you call it the hard drive, computer people will think you're stupid, it's really called a modem, and if it ever makes a funny noise, that means someone's trying to break into your system, unplug it immediately!"

        They'll proudly call it a modem from now on to impress us with their sophistication. That's the geek way of marking the territory to warn other geeks of danger.

    • by spood ( 256582 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @08:26PM (#8594174) Homepage Journal
      Sure they would - it's that big tower under their desk!
  • hrmm (Score:5, Funny)

    by profet ( 263203 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @07:42PM (#8593765)

    looks nothing like a floppy...what are you people smoking?
    • on EMacs is Ctrl+Shift+CAPS LOCK+TAB+F1+F9+Scroll get the picture...

      i wouldn't be suprised is RMS saw that as ASCII art for a floppy...
    • C-x,C-s is far more intuitive than :wq...
      Surely? :-)
      • Re:hrmm (Score:4, Insightful)

        by funkhauser ( 537592 ) <> on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @08:24PM (#8594159) Homepage Journal
        I don't agree. The C-x part is pretty unintuitive. What does the x stand for? It's not readily apparent. With the vi command, you have (w)rite, then (q)uit.

        Of course, neither is as intuitive for typical users as selecting "Save" from a menu or clicking a "Save" button on a toolbar. Sine EMACS and vi are typically used by enthusiasts/professionals, the issue of intuitiveness is essentially moot.

        • Re:hrmm (Score:2, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward
          I don't agree. The C-x part is pretty unintuitive. What does the x stand for?

          C-x is the prefix for an extended command. It also chords nicely if your control key is in the proper location.

          Perhaps the author of the write-up is correct, however, and we should similarly modernize emacs. I propose that henceforth, C-x shall be known as the prefix for extreme commands, such as extreme saving or extreme printing

        • Re:hrmm (Score:3, Insightful)

          by belroth ( 103586 )
          Err, did you miss the smiley?

          No keystrokes are really intuitive, they all have to be learnt. Some English speakers may claim C-s means save, but why not C-w for write,C-b for backup or C-d for disk etc?

          With the vi command, you have (w)rite, then (q)uit.

          so what does the : mean? Not all commands have to have a colon, do they?
          Why do you have to w(rite) rather than s(ave), and why do you have to q(uit), or is :wq not really the save command?

          Standard keystrokes or standard icons, or both, are best as that

          • Re:hrmm (Score:3, Informative)

            by abulafia ( 7826 )
            so what does the : mean? Not all commands have to have a colon, do they?

            I assume you're asking from a UI perspective, rather than asking what the actual reason is, and on that level, I agree - it doesn't make sense if you approach vi as a newbie. The Vi Way(tm) is a very learned skill.

            As far as the actual question of _why_ there are colon commands, it has to do with the fact that originally, vi was built on top of ed (and was written by Bill Joy). ed was a line oriented, rather than screen oriented, ed

    • :wq!

      You did make changes to that document, didn't you?
    • Re:hrmm (Score:3, Informative)

      by j-pimp ( 177072 )
      Gee, I was expecting ^X from a pico fan like you. Have you finally seen the light?
  • Serious answer (Score:5, Informative)

    by JMZero ( 449047 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @07:46PM (#8593795) Homepage
    I've already seen a few programs (though I can't find any examples now that I look) that have a folder with an arrow pointing into it for "save" and out of it for "open". I think that's fairly intuitive.

    Many people already do not know what the floppy disk save icon is - I've heard at least two people say "click on the little TV to save".
  • The telephone icon (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WckrSpgt ( 257470 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @07:47PM (#8593804) Homepage
    The floppy icon will be around for a while. The rotary telephone is still used quite often. They are icons in the true sense.
  • by joelparker ( 586428 ) <> on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @07:49PM (#8593821) Homepage
    Think about similar cases using CVS, FTP, email:
    you don't "save" using any of these, right?
    Instead you commit, or upload, or send.

    Maybe you'll click "Check" when you're ready,
    and the file will do what it needs to do--
    commit itself, upload itself, send, save, etc.

    Cheers, Joel

  • Save replacement (Score:4, Insightful)

    by timothv ( 730957 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @07:59PM (#8593911)
    I hope that instead of a save button, some programs will constantly save work and provide a timeline-like feature to go through all changes in the document if neccessary. Obviously, it'll need a clear history feature for publishing, and it'll need a smart algorithm to save memory/diskspace.
    • Any app that has autosave is already halfway there. All anyone would need to do is just keep saving each revision in the same file with a timestamp and the app would automatically find the newest timestamp and use that revision. Of course there'd have to be some sort of configuration option for when to start throwing old revisions away (say maybe after 6 days or 30 revisions or whatever, make it user customizeable).

      Don't shoot me for mentioning an MS product, but if you used Office and saved everything in

    • Re:Save replacement (Score:5, Interesting)

      by dasunt ( 249686 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @10:56PM (#8595099)

      I hope that instead of a save button, some programs will constantly save work and provide a timeline-like feature to go through all changes in the document if neccessary.

      I use vim [] and RCS [] for this purpose.

      RCS allows me to check in and out revisions, and each revision has a change log. I can roll back changes, check differences, and even make my own branch of a file.

      Subversion [], CVS [], Arch [] and many others also can fill the same role. Heck, you can even make a directory named backup and rename a copy of the file to 'myfile_date'. The reason why I settled on RCS is that its relatively simple to use and its cross platform (Linux, BSD, Windows-via-Cygwin, etc). I've been tempted to adopt one of the larger revision control systems for additional features, but haven't gotten around to it.

      As for Vim, its cross platform, rather full featured, and if the power goes out, I still can recover the file. Plus its easy to use with RCS through a few simple aliases and/or keymaps. There is also Gnu Emacs [] or XEmacs [] and a host of other good text editors.

      Sure, there could be one program that would do both, but that wouldn't be as useful. The unix philosophy of "do one thing, and do it well" is less of a pain in the long run. This way, I can reuse my $editor_of_choice in many other unix applications - slrn, mutt, etc. If I had one integrated program, sooner or later I'd become fed up with one part of it or another, and I would be forced to continue using it.

      Just my $.02.


  • It's just the "save icon". Maybe it doesn't look like anything anybody has ever seen but that doesn't prevent it from acquiring the necessary meaning.

    Computers are full of anacronisms... My favorite is the strerror() output for ENOTTY (on some systems, probably pre-posix): "Not a typewriter". Well, duh...
  • I think the saving function will be marked with a floppy disk for the forseeable future and it doesn't matter anyway. Folders in a GUI don't have that much in common with real-life folders anymore either. The floppy disk/file save idiom is almost like an established cultural understanding in computers now, so there won't be any change until the function fundamentally changes.

    Saving is really just committing to all of your changes since the last checkpoint/save point. If the idea of "Save" changes at all it
    • Saving is really just committing to all of your changes since the last checkpoint/save point. If the idea of "Save" changes at all it might focus along those lines with an icon for the function related more to committment than to physical storage devices.

      Exactly right. The icon should represent the idea behind saving rather than the actual physical media itself. And one thing that will not change in the near future is the serialization of our virtual world into a stream of bits to be laid down one by one

  • by Daniel Wood ( 531906 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @08:17PM (#8594088) Homepage Journal
    As much as I wish it were, the floppy is a device that simply refuses to die.

    I went for three years without using a Floppy and finally just broke down and bought a USB floppy drive. There is just no easier way to flash a bios and make a backup.

    Floppy disks are well suited to their current day task of saving small files and flashing the bios.

    This coming from a person who uses a Thumbdrive, DVD-RW, or a Archos 20GB hdd to transport files.
    • the floppy is a device that simply refuses to die.
      ... as is the floppy disk drive. Mine dates from 1992 and survived 3 changes of machine.
      • Within 3m of me, I have 3 computers and a pile of 3 floppy drives. None of the computers have a floppy drive installed.

        I only ever use floppies if/when Im installing a new OS. Depending on the phase of the moon, one of those floppy drives works. Exactly which one is random. After trying to make a boot disk on one of a stack of 30 floppy disks, I usually (but not always) get one that works.

        A couple of weeks ago, I happened to have a new server in here that I installed FC-1 on. It had a PXEable NIC on the b

    • You might look into just using a bootable Thumbdrive/Jumpdrive to do this with...that's what I use and I've not seen a problem...if you can boot from a USB attached floppy, you should be able to boot from a thumbdrive...
    • There is just no easier way to flash a bios...

      Sure there is. Easier than keeping ancient floppy drives around, anyway. Turn the floppy image into a bootable ISO.

      First, set up the image (where boot.img is a pre-existing bootable floppy image):
      mount boot.img -r -o loop /mnt


      mkdir boot.iso.d
      mv boot.img boot.iso.d
      mkisofs -R -J -o boot.iso -b boot.img boot.iso.d

      And burn the iso. I'm sure k3b would be easier than the command line but I can't get it to work under 2.6.3. The cdrecord command
  • Hey! Why not?
    He gives you the thumbs up for saving!
    • There's nothing like seeing George Carlin playing a Catholic priest, attempting to encourage "younger" parishoners with an icon called "Buddy Christ".

      That was probably one of the funniest moments in the movie.
  • by bluGill ( 862 )

    Which picture of Jesus? The one where he is hanging on a cross, or the one where he is a shepherd with sheep around him[1].

    Not that it matters, we don't know what Jesus looks like, there are no historical accounts. We can guess a little: he was Jewish which specifies some general things.

    [1]Interestingly enough, there is no account of Jesus having anything to do with sheep. He was the carpenter's son (it was supposed by those who didn't accept the divine birth story), and recognized as such when he went

    • Re:Jesus (Score:3, Funny)

      Why is Christ portrayed with sheep? Psalm 23? The references to Christ as a lamb and shepherd thick throughout the Gospels? I'm no Christian, but this stuff is basic Western Civ, man.

    • Re:Jesus (Score:3, Informative)

      by starrsoft ( 745524 )

      there is no account of Jesus having anything to do with sheep.

      Such ignorance begs to be corrected.

      Read John 10:11 [] in which Jesus says: "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." He says again in verse 14: "I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me." That is merely a small portion of that passage. The passage is entitled "The Shepherd and His Flock." Almost the whole chapter of John 10 deals with Jesus and sheep.

  • None of the Macintosh apps I use have 'save' in the toolbar. For file saving, you can either do file:save, or you can do cmd-S. The only app I can think of which might have a save icon in its toolbar is Acrobat Reader, which IIRC is a 3.5" floppy which hasn't been pertinent on the Mac since 1998 [].
  • Actually, I wouldn't be surprised if by now the majority of users think that icon somehow universally means 'Save' or if they think that's what actually inside their computer doing the saving. You know, the little thing that goes clicky-click inside there.

    Plus images of floppies still tend to persist in movies and the like. Somehow they are real "hardcore computer hacker" tools or something.

  • I still hear sound "icons" like the chunk-chunk-chunk of a teletype in the background of an "important news flash" or the sound of a needle skidding off a record in current radio ads. These technologies have been out of widespread use longer than the floppy.

    At least the floppy icon is fairly standard so unlike icons such as the magnifying glass (is it "search" or is it "zoom") it doesn't leave me guessing.

  • I know how people hate hearing that "Apple has already done it" but it must be said. In MacOS they've replaced the picture of a floppy used for their save icon with a holographic crystal. You've all heard that all Apple hardware comes with holographic drives now right?

    Michael. []
  • Can we finally discard the anachronism of "saving" your work to nonvolatile storage? Back when all media was both slow and removable, it made sense to burden the user with this responsibility. But now, it's well past time for orthogonal persistance.
  • ..just the letter S?
  • Let's bring back the B:\ drive. I'm tired of living in a third-world, well third-letter anyway, society.

    When was the last time you saw a 5 1/2" foppy disk anyway? Relax - it's a rhetorical question. I know you're looking at one right now.
  • The computer should play "Save me, Jebus!" when you click on it
  • Save... Will it become a CD-R? a hard drive? a portrait of Jesus?

    Ok, you can have Save be the portrait of Jesus if you have the Trash Can become a portrait of Bush.

  • What next? (Score:5, Funny)

    by azuroff ( 318072 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @09:11PM (#8594481)
    You're going to try to convince me that there aren't literal manila folders inside my computer?
  • by adb ( 31105 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @09:53PM (#8594731)
    Toolbars filled with unidentifiable pictures seem to be the norm these days. Instead of guessing what they mean, I drag the little arrow to the words that say what I want to do. Programmers don't seem to get that nouns are rarely a good representation for verbs, and the only verbs mouse actions give you are "activate this" and "apply this to that".
  • A Hammer and Chisel. Yeah, nobody uses it anymore, but we all know what it means.

    And with storage as big as it is now, who deletes anything nowadays.

  • Save should be ctrl-s (or apple-s) in every application. It should also be in roughly the same place in the leftmost menu as it is in every other app.

    Why do you need a third way of saving? Do you feel the same need for a 'quit' icon?

    I've only seen a few apps with save icons on the mac, generally from Microsoft, who either didn't understand the idea of Apple's user interface quitelines or decided to undermine them in a fit of envy. Luckily you can throw away the pointless save icon using tools>customise
  • by version5 ( 540999 ) <> on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @10:45PM (#8595024)

    The whole concept of saving files (including the word itself) is counter-intuitive to most people. If you know that the computer makes a temporary copy of the file and then wants to copy the new file over the old one, then the word makes sense. You've made changes to a different file. But the average user doesn't realize this, nor should they. They think that what they see on the screen is the file. When I edit a file, any fool looking at the screen can see that the changes have been made. Why would the computer ask you to do something you have already done? Intuitively, the screen represents the current state of the file, so if I wish to stop working on a document, it implies that I'm satisfied with its contents. If I create a new file, add some data and then try to close the document, at that point the software should intervene and ask me to pick a name for the file.

    I could see a person accustomed to using the word 'save' in the phrase "I'm not sure I really need this any more, should I throw it away? No, I'll save it, just in case..." to interpret the save prompt in the same way, i.e. I've decided to discard the changes I'm making, but maybe I'll save them in case I want to make a permanent change later, more like a recycle bin.

    My suggestion is get rid of 'save' altogether, and replace it with something like 'Confirm your changes', and a big green check mark in place of the floppy disk. Why bother the user with an icon representing the mechanics of the operation?

    • You have a good point. With some much disk space nowadays, maybe the default action when we close an application is to save without prompting the user, but keeping the last 5 versions of the document, with a button to revert to one of these if desired.

      Or even better, make this an OS feature and have the filesystem handle it. Didn't one of the OS (VMS?) have some "versioned files" feature like that?

      • is to save without prompting the user, but keeping the last 5 versions of the document

        Users may not be aware of the security implications of what the software is doing. There could be some incriminating information that they deleted in the current document, but remains in the older versions. Remember the Office metadata and hidden "deleted" data fiascos reported here on /.?

  • by stvangel ( 638594 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @10:54PM (#8595086)
    Because that is basically what you're doing with a save. You're taking a snapshot of whatever you are currently working on and saving an image of it at this point in time. It can even be used for a system backup because all it really is, is a snapshot of an entire computer at a particular time.

    I would make the icon itself a picture of a camera with the flash going off. When you're viewing a listing of "snapshots" they could be little thumbnail pictures of the document made to look like a photograph with little white borders all the way around them. You could use "albums" to view all your snapshots. For versioning it's easy to visualize "this is the 4th picture I took of this project on thursday". You could have custom albums of "all the snapshots I took last week" or "all the snapshots of that document since I started working on it in May".

    The photography analogy is easy to extend because everyone is familiar with it. A snapshot is whatever the photographer was looking at at the time they took the picture. You can make "duplicate copies of your prints" to give to other people. You can have additional copies of your prints made if you need more. You can save copies of your prints in photo albums and stored away for safe keeping. etc...
  • Keep it! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jonadab ( 583620 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @11:47PM (#8595373) Homepage Journal
    Quick, off the top of your head, what does a red octagon with a white outline
    represent? How about a button on a GUI that looks like a pair of scissors?
    What about a red circle with a red line across it from the lower left to the
    upper right? A button on the corner of a screen window that has an X in it?
    Do *any* of these things actually look like the object or process that they
    represent? Does it matter?

    A good icon is simple, visually distinctive, easy to recognize instantly,
    consistent across many interfaces. The floppy disk icon for save is all of
    these things, and it's also familiar to almost every experienced computer user.
    It could be simplified a little (removing some superfluous details, like the
    label and the little readonly-lock thingydo), but the basic visual is already
    quite simple and distinctive. Nobody's going to mistake it for (say) the paste
    button. Sure, it's an anachronism, but the standard icons for cutting and
    pasting are scissors and paste, respectively, and nobody's used *that* method
    of cutting and pasting since word processing came into vogue. So what? The
    icons are visually distinctive enough (well, the scissors are; they should
    probably have used a roll of transparent tape for paste, but it's too late to
    change that now) and their meaning is well established.

    Have you looked at the icon on a power button lately? (No, not your old 8-bit
    micro with the toggle rocker with 0 for off and 1 for on; something that was
    manufactured this century.) On virtually every device it's the same. Why
    exactly that specific symbol means "power" is quite beyond me (why not a
    lightning bolt or something?), but everybody knows it's the power button
    because it's the power button on everything -- computers, monitors, UPS units,
    even a growing number of kitchen appliances. This is a Good Thing(TM).

    So, take that picture of a floppy, simplify it into a basic icon, and use
    it to represent the concept of saving from now on. It doesn't matter if
    half the people clicking on it have never seen an actual factual floppy
    diskette and don't know the history behind the symbol; they won't have to
    look at very many applications before they learn it's the universal symbol
    for "save changes".
    • Re:Keep it! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by drsmithy ( 35869 )
      Quick, off the top of your head, what does a red octagon with a white outline represent? How about a button on a GUI that looks like a pair of scissors?

      I have to defend the old scissors icon for "cut". It's always made perfect sense to me. But, then again, I grew up actually doing "real" cut-&-pasting with some scissors, glue and a photocopier.

    • Why exactly that specific symbol means "power" is quite beyond me.

      Well, if the rocker switch has 2 positions, and a symbol for each, when both functions are set to the same button, you simply assign both symbols tho the same button by superimposing one onto the other. That's how it makes sense.

      Oh, and with the scissors, they make sense for 'cut' because that's what scisors do. They cut. (paper, your finger, the cat's tail if they're sharp enough, etc.)
  • I know (Score:3, Funny)

    by dedazo ( 737510 ) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @03:47AM (#8596497) Journal

    (emacs zealots refrain from modding, plz)

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @03:35PM (#8602007) Homepage
    In "Idoru", the heroine carries around an "icon dictionary" titled "What Things Are". There are days when you need that.

    There used to be a Mac program which found every unique icon on the machine and displayed them all on one screen. Terrifying.

God made machine language; all the rest is the work of man.