Dropbox Just Saved My Ass

I’ve been a big fan of Dropbox ever since my brother used them to share files with me for postproduction on some film or other. To summarize: Dropbox is totally sweet.

I keep all my writing in my Dropbox folder, so it’s automatically up-to-date no matter which keyboard I’m typing on at the moment. Save it on one computer, it’s updated on all the rest. Not too shabby.

This evening I opened up one of my stories, and it was not all there. In Jer’s Novel Writer, it’s possible to save just a part of your story. For Allison, I export each episode as XHTML for simple(r) transfer to the blog. It works pretty well.

One thing about the export feature: It’s possible to export a part of your story and replace the file with the entire story. I’ve made this really difficult to do, with messages that read something like “Are you totally high?” and the default response “No, I’m just confused. Don’t overwrite my master file.”

Yet, today, I opened the master Allison file and found just the last episode. The definitive versions of all previous episodes are here in the blog, but there were half a dozen episodes stretching far into the future that were gone. Lost in a puff of ones and zeroes. I hadn’t even intended to export the chapter in that format, let alone overwrite the master. Yet somehow I had.

I gaped at the file, thinking about the chapters I’d lost. Fencing club! Holy crap! Seiji’s torment turned up to eleven. The destruction of a city. A killer robot in the hot springs. Poof. Gone. How did I do that?

But then there’s the other part of Dropbox. The part that remembers all versions of all your files for the last 30 days. For free. I pointed my browser to my home base and moments later my spectacular brain fart was erased. My file is back, only it turns out I haven’t written the killer robot in the hot springs episode yet.

3 thoughts on “Dropbox Just Saved My Ass

  1. Now you’re going to fix your app so this same problem never happens to your users, right? If a user wants to overwrite their document with an exported portion of itself (not exactly the most likely use-case), they can do so manually, outside of your application.

    Nice blog, BTW.

    • Sorry, I think my comment was more rude than it needed to be. I really just meant to say that warnings aren’t a substitute for undo… Or in this case, excluding “features” that are both harmful and not very useful.

      Normally, I imagine this isn’t a problem because most applications only export to other formats, meaning the resulting documents have different extensions (and no chance of conflict with the original).

    • You know, I think I do have that ability specifically disabled, now that I’ve had more time to reflect on it. I’m going to have to try harder to reconstruct how I managed that stunt. I was distracted at the time, and it was beer-blogging thursday, but hopefully I can get to the bottom of it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *