The application I use most, besides a browser and email client, is probably Notepad. I have the shortcut to Notepad on my Quick Launch bar and I use it every time I have to take notes of any kind. When I get a phone call at work, it has become second-nature for me to open Notepad before picking up the receiver.
This works quite well. I run into trouble, though, when it comes time to reboot or shutdown. I’m running Windows XP on a laptop and I don’t often reboot (I use the suspend status when moving between home and work). It’s a good nod to the stability of 2000/XP that I’m confident leaving notes unsaved in Notepad for days at a time. However, when I do have to reboot for some reason, I’m forced save all of my open notes. I end up having to litter my desktop with temporary files and folders. I’m also forced to name each of the notepad files (usually ending up with useless names).
I want a Notepad that has no Save command. I want everything to always be saved, all the time.
Some argue that the whole concept of saving files is vestigial and should be scrapped. There is definitely something to that. The most common counter-argument to that position is that it limits the ability for experimentation with files (you can try things out with a file without saving). This is bunk. Reverting to saved versions of files is not a good model for experimenting. That’s what universal undo/redo is for. Allaire’s ColdFusion Studio allows undo beyond the last save. Adobe Photoshop (version 6 & 7) implements a history system that works well (despite some nasty implementation quirks).
When I’m typing longer items, like this post, I usually use Microsoft Word. I have the Save command keyboard shortcut burned into my brain (Alt+F+S). I press it instinctively after almost every sentence. Can’t a robot do that for me?
Bill Gates smells my desire (that sounds obscene, but it’s not) and his minions are on the case. At Comdex this month, they previewed a new app called OneNote (say it out loud: wa’note – I’m not yet sure if this is clever or stupid). It won’t be available until next year (I’m signed-up for the beta in early 2003).
I won’t rehash the description of OneNote here. For details, see the WinPlanet article, Steve Gillmore’s InfoWorld article, and the official Microsoft OneNote site featuring a video of the announcement (300Kb/s Windows Media) worth watching if only for the terrible ‘acting’ by the presenters. If you can get past the embarrassing presentation, this video does a good job of demonstrating OneNote. You really have to see it in action as the benefits are difficult to explain.
Of interest here is a notable omission from the OneNote toolbar: no Save icon. As stated in the WinPlanet article: “The program always launches or opens to your most recent page of notes, while an auto-save function reduces fussing with filenames.” Yup, that’s what I want.
On a bit of a tangent, OneNote is an interesting step towards the “universal canvas”. The ‘canvas’ is powered by the Office apps (Word, Excel, etc.). I see (very) faint glimmers of Jef Raskin’s Humane Interface here. Let’s just hope it isn’t big, bloated, and stupid.