We would love to offer you all the ability to track versions of your writing. So, we’ve already begun saving everything you write in a way that would allow us to do this in the future. It’s not a simple thing though – even the interface as to how you would do it isn’t easy, so we need to know exactly how you’d use it and how you’d like it to work.

What do we mean by versioning?

We store each version of your writing, so you’d be able to go back and choose to revert to an old version. Some versioning tools let you compare two versions, and track changes (like Google Docs – this is sort of the dream option). Others are more straightforward and allow you to revert to one from a choice of dates.

Why would you need versioning? What would you use it for? Help us get this feature right.

13 replies
  1. Clare says:

    Suggestion via email from Amber – “Rollbacks through different save points would be cool as well, just in case a scene is erased then you wish you didn’t do that. “

  2. Clare says:

    Email suggestion from Amber – “Versioning, or the ability to at least save or restore from manual snapshots of a chapter. (Vital for revisions/rewrites)”

  3. Graham Brand says:

    I see three aspects to tracking versions.

    1) Autosaving and roll-back. This would protect me from errors and allow me to return to earlier work. I agree that Google Docs does this very well, with the ability to preview each earlier saved version without necessarily reverting. This versioning should be automatic.

    2) Snapshots. These would be saved manually, and there’s a tradeoff here between the simplicity of taking a snapshot for the whole novel, and adding the ability to take snapshots of individual chapters. For me, I think it would be easier to manage if the snapshots were always for the whole novel. I’d only need chapter snapshots if we didn’t also have some form of tagging.

    Adding the ability to make a duplicate of a novel in the Overview would basically allow us to take snapshots while you were developing something more complex. However, this would muck up word count statistics, so there may need to be an option to exclude a novel from total word count.

    3) Tagging. While (1) and (2) deal with backups, Tagging would be used actively to handle the evolution of the novel. I’d like some way to indicate the progress on each chapter. While a whole novel snapshot can be labelled ‘First Draft’ as a backup, what’s needed while working on the text is a way to mark each chapter as completed at each stage. Everyone’s likely to need different tags, so I think we’d need to be able to customise them (First Draft, Revised, Final, etc.)

    Note that while you might want a snapshot for, say, First Draft, you’re more often going to want a snapshot for a particular date, where the novel is at various stages of completion by chapter, hence the need for tagging.

    • Graham Brand says:

      Sorry, just to clarify my point on whole novel vs individual chapter snapshots, I agree with Amber above that you need some way to revert an individual chapter, however I’m assuming that this would be possible by reviewing the autosave versions. If reverting to an autosaved version was only possible for the whole novel then you would need to be able to save and revert chapter snapshots.

  4. Clare says:

    Email suggestion from Carmella: if it were able to open where I left off (in which specific chapter file I was in when I was last working), that would also be a great help!

  5. Clare says:

    Email suggestion from Tim:
    Github compatibility: make it possible to save (for example on daily basis) to github using commits and thus have github as a backup AND versioning system (eg like ability)

  6. Clare says:

    Email suggestions from Alex: A way to mark where you left off with a revision. When i go back to revise, I sometimes can’t finish in a single sitting, so having something very visible would be helpful.

  7. mtn says:

    Perhaps this belongs in a different feature comment section, but in the settings where you can see when your novel was ‘created’ and ‘last edited’, it would be great to have a subtext/dropdown/hover option in the main menu of when each chapter was created and last edited, and even how many edits have been made (not minor spell-corrects, but typing, pasting and deleting paragraphs of text).

  8. Edmund Scott says:

    When I write, I like to place my original version next to my new one.
    I will then rewrite the new one from scratch, but I want to be able to see the original copy at all times to check that I’m not missing out any important plot points or character development.

    It’s also nice to compare different writing styles at the same time to see how things would look written in different ways.

    If we could have the option to somehow see two versions at once then that’d be great!
    (For now I just open textedit)

  9. Jennifer says:

    Omg yes!!

    I was hoping for a tracking changes feature! Is there a way to invite someone to be able to edit the document? And collaborate? That’s what makes track changes the most useful.

  10. Tim says:

    It would be very interesting if you could add a (git-like) tag to a specific version. E.g. “his version can be considered draft 1” , allowing you to quickly switch between milestone-versions of your drafts.

    • Tim says:

      A bit more specific: so now you can only see chapter-version (with no metadata but the date of the version), but it would be cool to also have something similar on “book-level” AND with some self-added metadata (“draft 1” or “never show this to anyone else” or “Final final draft 2 final v2”)


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