I worked on another developer’s machine yesterday and they were using the auto-save feature in their editor. This threw me off completely, and had me questioning a fundamental truth I’ve had of needing to save files while developing software. ๐Ÿ˜ฑ

I’ve decided to experiment with the auto save feature on, but first I wanted to dissect WHY I’m so skeptical, and what I could potentially gain. Here’s a brain-dump.

Why am I skeptical of auto save while coding? ๐Ÿคจ

More Load

  • I tend to have automation running in the background (ie: build watchers for javascript and dotnet, as well as continuous testing tools)
  • What are the consequences of triggering the watchers with every change?
  • Memory / cpu battery life?

Less Flexibility

  • I tend to leave things in a mess when refactoring sometimes, and I wonder if that will lead to more noise vs signal?
  • more distracted by things failing
  • I want to be explicit about when I’m ready to “commit” a change to disk with the save-feature.
  • I tend to have WIP as unsaved files as a very convenient feature
  • Sometimes I do changes before committing the previous ones - it’s good then to be able to go bac, commit the saved changes, then save the new changes (more control)

Personal Resistance

  • Old habits die hard
  • Introducing a new source of friction (by removing friction) ๐Ÿคท๐Ÿพโ€โ™‚๏ธ

What I could potentially gain:

  • I instinctively press CMD + S WAY too often during a work day
  • Saving keystrokes is a bonus
  • Knowing I’m always working on the latest bits while developing
  • It’s how I expect document editors to work by default (but they tend to commit on every save as well, leaving a changelog to navigate)
  • Avoid Errors while working where a file isn’t saved - Oh, the number of times this has happened
  • Remove an entire layer of doubt and cognitive load from my day-to-day workflow
    • Am I really working on the latest bits?
  • Encourage smaller changes because it saves and triggers build / errors at faster
  • Remove edge-cases when I typo and press CMD + Q/W (Quit, Close Window)

To be Continued

Am I over-analyzing this? Perhaps. But it’s because I had this strong reaction I want to understand, experiment, and learn.

So, I’m now turning on auto save in VSCode. Let’s see how this goes.