Some fundamental usability issues

Vincenzo Ciancia ciancia at di.unipi.it
Thu May 8 10:38:11 BST 2008


Il giorno gio, 08/05/2008 alle 02.24 +0100, chombee ha scritto:
> 
> Using git is ridiculously difficult and technical by the standards of
> most normal users, but I see no reason why a versioning system could
> not
> be built in to the OS or the desktop environment and function
> completely
> without user interaction until the user wants to recover a previous
> version of something. And that can be made very simple and easy to do.
> Imagine it being virtually impossible to lose any of your work, ever.
> Isn't that a killer feature? Why hasn't this happened?

It is technically feasible using fuse, and there have been attempts in
the past (such as the "wayback" filesystem [1]). OSX does automatic
backup and versioning, but I don't know how all these systems handle the
main problem, which is: the file size will grow without bounds. We need
a way to delete old revisions, a way to know when the file is large and
versioning would kill the machine, in the latter case we need a way to
warn the user and also, if we want to delete old revisions, we need a
way to know how much space would be freed. Finally, if we want to delete
some revision, it might be better to merge revisions e.g. keep all
changes for the last week, plus weekly changes for the rest of one
file's life. All these issues make a versioning filesystem a non-trivial
thing to implement but not that difficult either, if you want to try :)

[1] http://sourceforge.net/projects/wayback

Vincenzo





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