There’s been some recent discussion on Branch about redesigning the save icon. This conversation crops up from time to time, but no lasting fruit has come from it… yet.

I feel the “save” metaphor is old, but often still relevant. Ever make changes that you don’t want auto-saved? I do. I make a series of changes when working through an idea, and then decide if I want to keep or reject them.

Perhaps the word ‘save’ needs some thought. What other words represent both legacy, modern, and future versions of this action? Keep, commit, update, sync?

I really like ‘commit’ because I work with versioning systems on a daily basis. A file goes through many changes – some get committed, others get discarded. Each commit is a snapshot of the file in that moment. Here’s my first thought – something similar to revisions in git:

Left & Middle: uncommitted changes; Right: No new changes to save.

Basically, the circle represents the current moment on a file’s version timeline. An empty circle could represent uncommitted changes, while a solid/dotted circle has been committed.

I think there’s a lot of room to move this idea forward. Perhaps something less abstract is necessary. Maybe we don’t need an iconographic representation at all?

Furthermore, the floppy disk icon feels awkward now because it’s in transition from an indexical sign to something more symbolic. Historically, the floppy disk is a physical thing that correlates with the act of saving; while today it doesn’t. Perhaps the transition just needs time to complete.