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The other day, I was making a substantial edit on one of my MSO posts. I had to leave for a while, so I closed Chrome, fully expecting the saved draft to be there when I came back (). It wasn't--so I had to rewrite all of it.

Couldn't we have this feature? Yes, I know, it makes viewing the source of the original post tedious(you have to go through the revision history), but it makes the site consistent.

It works for questions and answers. Why not edits?

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How long was it? It save draft for 7 days as far as I know.. – Shadow Wizard Apr 23 '12 at 7:40
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@ShaDowWizArd: Half an hour. I'm talking about edits. – Manishearth Apr 23 '12 at 7:40
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Sorry - didn't notice you mean edit, thought you mean answer. – Shadow Wizard Apr 23 '12 at 7:41
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Drafts are clearly not supported for edits - guess it's just too complicated technically with too much overhead and not worth the effort. Edit should be immediate - if you got to bail out and come back later just save it in Notepad or something. :) – Shadow Wizard Apr 23 '12 at 7:49
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@ShaDowWizArd: I know, but it's inconsistent. Which means that you expect edits to save drafts and end up having to rewrite. – Manishearth Apr 23 '12 at 8:05
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Never assume someone else is backing up your data for you. – Lix Apr 23 '12 at 8:26
    
@Lix: I know.. Usually I'm a Ctrl-S freak (which hampers productivity on Wikipedia and SO since I Ctrl-S there as well--and make chrome angry). But in this case I was sort of used to it :/ . – Manishearth Apr 23 '12 at 8:29
    
Well... At least it's a lesson we only have to learn once :) Your chrome gets angry when you try save a file? ;) – Lix Apr 23 '12 at 8:33
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@Lix out of habit, whenever writing a wikipedia article or an Se post, I hit ctrl-S. Chrome thinks for a while, then shows the "save page" button. I type while looking at the keyboard(i'm not used to a single key spacing so I end up hitting two keys at once if I don't), and i type pretty fast, So a whole bunch of content is eaten up in the time it takes to show the dialog. :/ – Manishearth Apr 23 '12 at 8:40
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@Jeff thanks for the generous bounty! – Manishearth Apr 26 '12 at 7:18

I think the main difference between questions/answers and edits is, if you write an answer or a question, its yours. No one else but you can edit it at that point, so its no problem if you want to continue your writing after some hours.

If you have an edit, you work on an existing post (even if its yours), means other people than you can also edit. Especially when the post is worth editing, and you want to take a break for some hours, I think chances are good that the post has changed since you started your edit and in my opinion it would be not appropriate then just to finish your edit and post it, overwriting the previous edit.

So, what should happen if your edit is saved, but the post has been edited in the meantime? Maybe the post has been clarified and your "old edit" would have a different meaning now (maybe not if its your own post). Then there should be some kind of diff where you can compare the current status and your edit.

My idea would be bit different:

Give us an advanced editor!

I would like to have an editor (similar like now but opening on its own side/tab), with

  • a bigger edit field

  • a bigger preview, maybe on the side of the edit field (better overview on widescreen monitors)

  • The possibility to save drafts in my account (more than one!) ==> this would be the answer to your question.

  • With a button in the inline editor window to copy the current content to the advanced editor.

This would be big improvement for writing good, structured posts, that take a bit more time to think, because they are not FGITW answers.

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maybe you want to work on this, then stackapps.com/questions/2209/se-editor-toolkit – Jeff Atwood Apr 26 '12 at 16:18
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@JeffAtwood looks nice, but not exactly what I suggested, I tried to install it and till now I didn't get it to work. – stema Apr 27 '12 at 7:14
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It seems that this "se-editor-toolkit" is broken since the introduction of inline editing and it is not maintained anymore. – stema Apr 27 '12 at 8:17
    
I don't think it would be that hard to detect that the original had changed when a page with a draft-edit was reloaded. In theory, it could offer a 3-way-merge between the original, the new version, and your draft version, to rebase your draft onto the new version. I sometimes leave draft-edits open for a long time on my desktop, and recently lost some work I was doing to improve one of my own answers. Several of my answers attempt to be thorough, and I sometimes go back and improve them when I learn new things or want to improve their layout. – Peter Cordes Feb 9 at 14:14

This feature currently does exist when you're editing someone else's answer: it takes you to a special "edit" page like stackoverflow.com/posts/##post-number###/edit. This enables to browser-based crash recovery, since returning to the URL opens the edit-box. This isn't server-side saved drafts, but it's much better than nothing.

When Edit doesn't take you to a new URL (which is the normal case for editing your own posts, coming back after a browser restart loses all your work.

This is totally backwards. Your own posts are most likely the ones where you'll come back and make big changes, like to re-order the way you present information if it was clumsy before. Or if you learned something new that means a guess in an old answer was wrong.

I don't think I want to always go to a separate page when editing my own posts, so maybe the lowest-effort thing here would be for that to be an option. I'm having a hard time coming up with the text that should be on this link. Just saying "go to editor page" wouldn't explain why, and calling it "go to draft-saving page" sounds weird.

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Huh, just tried and looks like it's browser caching, not server side draft. Not really relevant to the request here, but not wrong also. – Shadow Wizard Feb 9 at 14:40

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