by adam mathes
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I wish there were more horizontal scrollbars in the computer world.

I want my word processor to have a scrollbar I can turn on that represents time. That is, by moving the scrollbar back and forth the document would change to represent its state at that particular moment in time. The granularity could be as small as seconds, in which case you could see individual characters move on and off the screen. I think it would be more interesting to scroll through the lifetime of a long document at the hour or day level and see pages and paragraphs pile on or off.

What if writers today used a program like that and distributed files of their works? You could literally see the pages they added over the months, or the parts they cut out and moved around. (Sure, given copyright law you probably wouldn’t be able to look at any normally published books until 14 50 70 years after the author’s death, but that’s not the point. And the files could be huge depending on how many changes it really tracked.)

With better revision tracking you would never have to worry about cutting a section in a mad frenzy only to realize a week later you really needed it in some other part of your work. What’s the best option for doing that now? Microsoft Word’s ‘track changes’ features? Checking text files into a CVS repository? I was hoping for something usable instead.

Even our old pal the Apple IIgs had multiple levels of undo. Maybe we’re ready to do something a little more advanced with command history. Most modern computers have gigabytes of hard drive space just sitting around, waiting to be filled with something useful. Isn’t a record of your writing process worth a few extra megabytes?

I haven’t used the Omniscient Debugger, but that’s the sort of thing I’m talking about. I want my programs to know everything! And scroll more.

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