Save is a byproduct

From Jerome R’s answer on the rationale behind the “no save” approach of Google Docs on Stack Exchange UX:

Save is a byproduct of early hardware- and software design. It doesn’t have a common equivalent in the real world.

Consider: If you take a pencil and make a mark on paper, that mark doesn’t require an extra step in order to become permanent. In other words, it does not need to be saved. The paper may need to be stored somewhere so it can later be found, or copied so it can be shared, but those are different tasks than putting permanent marks on the paper.

Old-fashioned Save became about more than saving. It was combined with tasks such as these:

  • Decide where to put the file.
  • Name the file, so it can be recognized.
  • Choose the file format, with an eye to sharing it.
  • Choose to make copies, by using Save as, perhaps as backups.
  • Choose the file format, with an eye to faster hardware performance.
  • Change the file format, with an eye to forcing the software to reformat the file to “fix” a defect in the file.
  • More…?

The no-save approach reflects what happens in the real world, and so requires no learning—except unlearning to Save.