Apple has always been terrifically good at changing things. Their list of firsts in hardware and software is as impressive as it gets.
Sometimes, change feels awkward. Then the more you live with it, you realize it’s a better idea and you need to just get with the system.
Other times, the more you live with it, the more you want to find the guy who dreamed it up and slap him around a bit.
Natural Scrolling had the potential to be annoying in this way, but Apple had the good sense to make it optional. Personally, I turned it off. “Natural” is whatever feels natural to you. The old way felt natural to me, so I unchecked the option and never looked back. (Or is it that I never looked forward?)
But there’s one change in Lion that I can’t turn off, and it frustrates me every time I use it. Which is often. I’m talking about the death of Save As… and the emergence of Duplicate and Save a Version.
The problem is, now it takes me twice as many steps to accomplish the same thing.
My needs are simple. I write. I assume there are a lot of people out there like me. Oftentimes, before I perform radical surgery on a document, I’ll want to make sure I keep the current version intact. In Snow Leopard, I’d use the Save As… command. I’d give the document a new name and continue writing. Two steps. Fast.
With Lion’s “improvement,” now I have to choose the Duplicate command. This opens a new document with the word “Copy” appended to the title. I hit Save. Give it a new name. Then I close the original document, which hangs around hoping I’ll pay attention to it. Four steps. Not fast. Annoying.
This perplexes me on two levels. First, I don’t understand why a company that lives to make things simpler would choose to make something more complicated. Second, I don’t understand Apple’s thinking about where this fits into computing in general.
Do they intend to create a new standard that will become ubiquitous? Will Adobe and Microsoft follow Apple’s lead? I wouldn’t hold my breath. So now we’ll just have to remember that when you’re in iWork, you’ll have to think different.
I do understand that there are some reasons why this might be a good idea for certain types of users. You can find a long, intelligent discussion of the facts here.
I also get the argument that the new Versions feature negates the need to ever use Save As… again. Versions works fine if you’re looking for one image or one paragraph you used previously. But most writers make tons of small changes throughout their documents. To find these types of changes, you’d be searching Versions forever. It’s vastly easier to just save a new version of a document with a name that will help you find it later. Which you can still do under the new system — it just takes twice as many steps as it did before.
Versions, by the way, may not even solve your problem, should one ever arise. It saves a Version only once per hour. So unless you’ve manually saved a Version of something you’re looking for, it’s possible that it won’t be there. (You won’t find this little fact in Pages Help or in the iWork section of apple.com — it’s buried a few levels down in the Lion section.)
To me, these types of things are more evidence that Steve Jobs has been pulling back on his involvement in certain areas, probably even before his medical leave. One of his greatest talents was his ability to take one look at something people have been working on for months and say, “Kill it.”
The elimination of Save As… strikes me as change for change’s sake. It’s not better than what we had before.
Can I have it back please? Let’s call it “Natural Saving.”