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Since manually saving drafts via shortcut keys was removed, I think it's appropriate to request a manual save button or other option now.

There really should be some option to force the save. I really don't want to have to wait until it decides to autosave my draft if I must close the browser now or otherwise navigate away from the page.

From my comments below:

The use case I'm talking about is when I'm trying to write a long and detailed answer to a question. Usually right when I finish, I want to refresh the page so I can account for any updates to the question or existing answers. That means refreshing the page and without being able to save immediately, I would have to wait for it. To work around this, I finish, copy my answer, refresh, and paste again. If I didn't wait long enough or forgot, I potentially lost part of my answer and might have trouble filling what's missing.

Also, in some circumstances, I will add a significant amount of text well within the autosave period (I'm a pretty fast typist) well after it has [first] saved. The counter starts again the moment I start typing. Doing the above will loose all of that and is a pain to recreate, particularly when the first version is explaining a difficult subject or was worded perfectly [as I intended]. If there's a save feature, let us use it. Only I know when it's appropriate to save, not the system.

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Why was this even declined? This surely deserves a re-evaluation. –  AsheeshR Nov 30 '13 at 2:58
    
Plus, the auto-save doesn’t even always work. I have an answer draft that was saved in an early version. I’ve greatly expanded it, but it just won’t save the changes. I’m currently resorting to copying it to a text-file until I’m ready to commit it. ¬_¬ –  Synetech Dec 9 '13 at 3:44

6 Answers 6

up vote 11 down vote accepted

This is now possible using a UserScript I wrote:

Manual Draft Save - Save a draft on demand

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Ooh, I've been looking at the SO code trying to figure out how to do this myself. Unfortunately I didn't know enough JavaScript to fully understand how to trigger the save. I look forward to seeing this work. –  Jeff Mercado Feb 20 '11 at 21:10
    
@JeffM: Thanks! I'll fix it right away. –  uɐɯsO uɐɥʇɐN Feb 20 '11 at 21:16
    
@JeffM: There. I've uploaded the correction. –  uɐɯsO uɐɥʇɐN Feb 20 '11 at 21:18
    
It's working great. –  Jeff Mercado Feb 20 '11 at 22:07
    
Aha, that would allow for clearing the drafts too. Nice! –  Arjan Feb 20 '11 at 22:44
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@Arjan: Yup... there's even a button for that! –  uɐɯsO uɐɥʇɐN Feb 20 '11 at 23:11
    
Ooops, a reset button? ;-) –  Arjan Feb 20 '11 at 23:13
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@Arjan: No, a 'clear' button. I've updated the screenshot. –  uɐɯsO uɐɥʇɐN Feb 20 '11 at 23:14
    
@Arjan: What will you use? –  uɐɯsO uɐɥʇɐN Feb 20 '11 at 23:17
    
Well, whether named reset or clear: wouldn't clicking it while in a hurry to close the browser, delete the draft and then make one lose their edits when closing that browser? Smells like a reset button! :-) –  Arjan Feb 20 '11 at 23:17
    
@Arjan: How could you click it by accident? –  uɐɯsO uɐɥʇɐN Feb 20 '11 at 23:18
    
Have you never clicked a reset button when you wanted to submit a form? –  Arjan Feb 20 '11 at 23:19
    
@Arjan: Yes, I clicked a reset button once. Once was enough. Perhaps I should write a script that removes all reset buttons from all pages everywhere :P –  uɐɯsO uɐɥʇɐN Feb 20 '11 at 23:20
    
@Arjan: The problem with not having a "clear" button is that while one might normally think that they can just just clear the draft and save as a way to do this, it is just not possible since SO does not save blank drafts. The workaround is to save a draft that consists only of a space. However a lot of people are just not aware of this and wants to actually remove what they have written from being saved. At least with this, undoing the clearing is still an option. –  Jeff Mercado Feb 20 '11 at 23:37
    
@Jeff, very well, but I'm just wondering if people who apparently have a need for the save action, won't ever accidentally click that reset button instead. (But I don't care as this is not part of the SE-provided interface.) –  Arjan Feb 21 '11 at 9:12

How often do you have to close the browser immediately? And, out of those cases, how often is it a serious problem to lose the last 45 seconds worth of writing? Seems to me that it's enough of an edge case to not be worth the extra work for the server.

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I have to admit, I don't usually have to close immediately but should that matter?... –  Jeff Mercado Nov 16 '10 at 4:19
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The use case I'm talking about is when I'm trying to write a long and detailed answer to a question. Usually right when I finish, I want to refresh the page so I can account for any updates to the question or existing answers. That means refreshing the page and without being able to save immediately, I would have to wait for it. To work around this, I finish, copy my answer, refresh, and paste again. If I didn't wait long enough or forgot, I potentially lost part of my answer and might have trouble filling what's missing. –  Jeff Mercado Nov 16 '10 at 4:20
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Also, in some circumstances, I will add a significant amount of text well within the autosave period (I'm a pretty fast typist) well after it has saved. The counter starts again the moment I start typing. Doing the above will loose all of that and is a pain to recreate, particularly when the first version is explaining a difficult subject or was worded perfectly. If there's a save feature, let us use it. Only I know when it's appropriate to save, not the system. –  Jeff Mercado Nov 23 '10 at 22:07
    
@Jeff, it's not that I don't see your point; I'm a pretty fast typist too, and I get annoyed when I lose unsaved changes to an SO post or anything else. It's just that, given the choice between this feature and slightly better overall site performance, I opt for performance. –  Pops Nov 24 '10 at 14:24
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@Popular: I'm all for better performance, but was the old save feature that much of a detriment to the site's performance? I can understand how the hotkeys before and the code involved could mean more work for the server but shouldn't simple buttons be an improvement? It doesn't have to be in the main site's code, but in the editor's. I'm imagine that the editor will be cached on everyone's computer so the only processing the server has to do is when there is a save/clear request, or I'm mistaken. I figure, not everyone will use it, but enough to be needed with minimal work for the site. –  Jeff Mercado Nov 24 '10 at 18:19
    
@Jeff, I don't know how big the performance hit is, but it concerned Jeff Atwood enough to take the feature away. In this case, I'm happy to defer to his judgment. –  Pops Nov 26 '10 at 16:00
    
Just because it hasn’t happened to you doesn’t make it irrelevant. Your example is too simplified. It’s not rare to start a simple, short answer, but then expand it, do research, hunt down sources, add links and images (which have ephemeral URLs!), and so on. This can easily take a long time so yes, you may need to stop and pick up later. It’s supposed to auto-save every 45 seconds, but it doesn’t always work, which could cost a lot more than just 45 seconds (which would still be unacceptable since trying to re-create even a few seconds worth of work can be difficult and frustrating). –  Synetech Dec 9 '13 at 3:54

Auto-save of drafts (one for questions, one for answers) occur every 45 seconds. So just make sure you've paused at least that long after typing and you should be fine.

edit: George Edison provided this user script to save immediately, if that's your cup of tea -- Manual Draft Save - Save a draft on demand

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Too bad it doesn’t always work. Just today, I started a simple answer, but then greatly expanded it, but the changes have not been saved. I tried typing something to trigger it, I tried waiting, I tried re-loading, I tried wiping out the post and re-doing it, but nothing I do will get it to auto-save now. I even tried starting a new answer to a different question to clear the existing auto-save. While it did erase the previous incomplete answer, it still won’t auto-save an answer to the previous question. –  Synetech Dec 9 '13 at 4:01

I'm a quick typist myself, so I was pretty curious about the Autosave too and the interval that occurs between each save. I haven't searched around to see what the interval is, so I won't ask here.

Prior to coming to Stack Exchange, I would frequent forums (still do) that would have an Auto Log-Out Function. Often, this lead to many aggravating retypes, since logging back in didn't recover the working draft I had (especially when I would forget important details in a long post). What I do to mitigate the amount of re-typing for these Auto Logout forums is to write the post in my browser and copy/paste the post to Notepad whenever I would hit 15 minutes of "Non-Activity" from the forum's perspective (non-activity being no posts/searches/clicks/etc).

Since you're on Stack Exchange, I'm going to assume that you could probably write a quick script that would automatically copy and paste your post to a text-processing application (Notepad[++]/gedit/Emacs) without it interrupting your typing "flow"? I haven't bothered trying anything myself, but then again, I'm a complete n00b to programming & Stack Exchange.

Again, this is all speculation on my part without any code, so I guess you could consider this a "pseudo-answer"? Well, you probably wouldn't want to see what code I could come up with: as far as scripting is concerned, I can only do VBS, quite poorly at that =D

EDIT: Maybe writing a key-logging script would work?

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I have written my own Greasemonkey script to save. Not to take away from George's but wanted to put this out there.

Add Draft Save Links (now with keyboard hotkeys!)

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I didn't know auto-save was so frequent - frankly, I didn't know how and when auto-save works at all. Sometimes things seem to have been saved, sometimes not (usually, if I write a long answer, I start on-site, then copy and save elsewhere, then come back later to finish).

We might not need a "save" button, but it sure would be nice for the save status to be visible - so that even users who haven't dug around in Meta will know when (and whether) their current work has been saved.

So, a button might be unnecessary, but a status line? That would be extremely helpful. Otherwise, most users won't have any idea that the feature exists.

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