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lost all code moving between normal and HTML view

I just ran into the error discussed in  "A UI question, I think." How frustrating. Everything in index.html is gone.

Joel's suggestion was "In this case we don't save your changes to the database, so you should just close the window without saving changes and reopen it."

Yeh, sure. I wonder how many people will think of that. In panic, I didn't have enough presence of mind to hunt  through the forum to find out what to do. I saved. The result was a complete blank index.html. Loss of data is one of the most serious bugs imaginable.

1. It raises a question about your plans for a bug fix version. Will you be posting bug fixes for serious problems like this soon?

2. Are there any plans for a built in mechanism for backups?

3. Perhaps Fog Creek could post a list of warnings for things as serious as this. I was so mad, I almost gave up on City Desk. I've spen the day craking up my motivation to type it in again.

Dick Dillon
Thursday, December 20, 2001

Unfortunately this is one of those dumb things that Microsoft's HTML edit control does, which we're slowly learning about. (This exact problem is even a bug in Microsoft's own site development product, Visual InterDev)

In general, we plan to:

(1) release quarterly service packs to our software, fixing as many known bugs as possible and working around Microsoft's bugs as much as we can
(2) document as much as we can on our online knowledge base
(3) in version 2.0, switch to the MSHTML component which is supposed to be more robust than DHTML.

We're committed to delivering software with as few bugs as humanly possible; our FogBUGZ customers will tell you that we have a great track record for fixing bugs and we intend to maintain that reputation.

Joel Spolsky
Thursday, December 20, 2001

No offense, but why in the world would you save an article you wanted to keep after accidentally deleting everything in it? Would you do that in any other application?

The first part (losing your article if you have badly-formed HTML) is a problem in CityDesk, and I've been bitten by it as well. Not having read Joel's solution at the time, it still seemed perfectly obvious that saving would make the change permanent, and I should instead try and reload from the previously-saved good version.

The second part of your problem (saving the article and trying to re-open it) is certainly not a bug. It's normal behaviour for *any* application to do exactly what you tell it to do. How could CityDesk know if you really did mean to delete everything or if it was just an accident?

If you were typing in MS Word and accidentally deleted everything, would you hit "Save" and then expect the original document to still be there?

Sorry for the rant, but it annoys me when people cry "bug" over user error.

On a more constructive note, perhaps the root problem could be addressed by CityDesk not allowing the user to leave HTML mode with serious validation errors present.

Darren Collins
Friday, December 21, 2001

Thanks for the information. I look forward to the online knowledge base. Currently I get answers to most of my questions by searching through the forum which is a help, but not organized as a source for general knowledge.

I've cooled down now (with everything typed in again and periodical backups), but I would like to comment on Darren's expectation that users will be rational  when things go wrong.

"Sorry for the rant, but it annoys me when people cry "bug" over user error."

In this case, there is a "problem", "bug" or whatever you want to call it.

We have known for years that people often don't behave as they should when things go wrong.  Hence the recoverable trash can, multiple undos, backups, multiple versions, file recovery software, back buttons, warnings to press Web submit buttons only once, etc. I bet a lot of City Desk users have muscle memory for clicking on "Save and close" rather than "Save" or "Close."  Less than optimal thinking under stress is why pilots,  etc. practice what to do when things go wrong, and why designers do everything possible to avoid things going wrong in the first place.

I don't know what the solution is for the HTML-Normal view problem, but I know it is serious and I know Joel won't write it off as just another irrational user. Good UI design and error recovery are (in part) about helping users avoid bad situations and helping them recover when things go wrong. In UI design, it is non-productive to blame users.

There, I got that off my chest.

Dick Dillon
Friday, December 21, 2001

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