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Thoughts that make me go hmmm! August 14, 2007

Posted by Carthik in snippets, ubuntu.
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This thought just struck me: the GNOME “save file” icon is still an image of a floppy (or it is at least in Gnumeric). How many people still remember what a floppy looks like?

Should the save icon be replaced by something else (a picture of a cd/usb drive)? Or should floppy discs be “icon”ized forever?
Somehow, all these days, the above thought never occurred to me. That icon with a floppy drive in it meant “Save” and to be honest, I have failed to think “floppy” when I have seen the icon before.

Comments»

1. bartaz - August 14, 2007

I’d would be for “iconizing” floppy.
First of all because of convention. All software users know that icon with a floppy means saving. Even if they didn’t see floppy disk in their life.
And secondly because of simple “historical” reasons :) Probably those users wont even think about “what is this thing in the save icon”, but maybe some day my grandkid will ask me about it and I’ll proudly take 5.25 out of the drawer ;)

2. Gnub_Daemon - August 14, 2007

5.25…I think I remember those from way back when…lol…honestly though, I can not remember the last time I used a floppy. (3.5…5.25…or otherwise…never did use zip-drives…still though, you are right about the convention.)

3. carthik - August 14, 2007

Exactly, bartaz!
Gnub-Daemon, I bet that like me, for you too, the floppy is now a Save symbol more than it is a floppy. :)

4. ercanj - August 14, 2007

When was the last time you opened a file from a real cardboard folder?

5. Andreas Nilsson - August 14, 2007

Fixed in svn.
http://svn.gnome.org/svn/gnome-icon-theme/trunk/32×32/actions/document-save.png

Next step is to make applications not dumb and make sure the computer remembers stuff for you without having to constantly hit that icon for you I guess.

6. barbex - August 14, 2007

Oh yes, that floppy got on my nerves from the very beginning. I think I saw it first in MS Word and they had it backwards! Annoyed me to no end.
I work with some application that use a folder with an arrow going out for “open” and a folder with an arrow going in for “save”. Makes much more sense for me.

7. ubuntufan - August 14, 2007

i never use application toolbars because the icons never make any sense. in general i find it difficult to remember an action by an image. i prefer words. i think most apps’ guis are broken this way. see the book ‘the humane interface’ for more on this.

8. Joshua K - August 14, 2007

Yes. The floppy icon should go. It shouldn’t be replaced with a USB or a CD or anything else that could be obsoleted. Saving should have it’s own unique icon. Consider the orange newsfeed icon for example.

9. Pe Bakk - August 14, 2007

The floppy should stay. Some good points have already been mentioned:

Usage: It’s like asking for a Kleenex instead of a tissue. You don’t really care if it’s the Kleenex brand or not, but that’s what you’re used to calling it.

Homage: Let’s keep to our roots as computer geeks and keep that floppy save icon!

We’re “sheep”: How many other things in the computer industry have a name/look from the past that no longer really applies. While actual file folders are still in use, how many average computer users actually use them? If we’re going to keep one, then keep them all.

Change happens: Yes, we now save to CD, DVD, USB drive, external hard drive, tape drive, etc but what single icon can we use for that? And what about in the future when we start saving things to crystal matrices or downloading them directly to our brain?

10. Smarter - August 14, 2007

Maybe we could use a compactflash disk icon? It looks much like a floppy and it’s the future.

11. jan - August 14, 2007

floppy is for saving what cross is for closing

12. Weeber - August 14, 2007

In the tango icon set is an HDD not a floppy, similar to the gnome svn save icon pointed out by Andreas Nilsson. I think a hard drive should be ok. We will have it for years..

13. Al - August 14, 2007

The floppy should stay! It’s a universally recognised symbol. It’s lasted longer than Zip disks, various tape drives…

If we start down the road of changing icons then I want to change the Firefox Home icon to be something other than a house, I live in a second floor flat!

14. Everett - August 14, 2007

@5, 12:

How many regular sorta people know what an internal hard drive looks like?

15. Dr. Dabbles - August 14, 2007

Perhaps Open and Save should both be updated. Maybe an image of a doc, with an arrow going to or from some piece of media. HDD or CD, or something. Just a thought. After all, the point of computers was to do away with the paper folders.

16. Sandy - August 14, 2007

Following up on Ubuntu Fan’s Raskin reference, there was an interesting discussion on this very topic on the Humanized web log recently:

http://www.humanized.com/weblog/2007/06/25/the_end_of_an_icon/

17. XEmacs - August 14, 2007

An alarm is usually iconised by a bell. But I’ve never had to replace an actual bell in my computer, even though I went through a multitude of every other part in there.

But the bell works for me, so does the floppy. So let’s stick to it until it doesn’t work for people anymore.

18. mocoloco - August 14, 2007

I would agree that the icon has taken on it’s own meaning beyond the original symbol of a floppy and doesn’t hurt anything to stick around. To those who would like to see it change, I would suggest considering what the save button does. For example the image linked to by Andreas Nilsson (post #5) is also an icon often used for installation. Yes they’re both basically the same thing, writing data to the hard drive, but using the same image to portray separate concepts can be confusing.
Instead maybe something that portrays the fact that you’re saving overtop of an existing file, as opposed to a new file, since that’s the function of that button. I can’t think of a good way to visually portray that though.

19. SageCat - August 14, 2007

“Open” is an arrow pointing out of a folder…
I think the “Save” icon should be an arrow pointing into a folder.

20. Top Posts « WordPress.com - August 14, 2007

[...] Thoughts that make me go hmmm! This thought just struck me: the GNOME “save file” icon is still an image of a floppy (or it is at least in […] [...]

21. mpt - August 15, 2007

The Save command should be abolished.

Mccayde - March 19, 2014

Your article pelcrftey shows what I needed to know, thanks!

22. Maxo - August 15, 2007

I am all for making the floppy the internation standard icon for saving for all time in all deminsions.

23. Ugo - August 15, 2007

Why a triangle means play and a square means stop? =) I wonder, should we create a pictogram to Save too? or let the floppy be the icon forever?

24. Andrew - August 15, 2007

I think the floppy should go but not replace it with any media because of the large media options out there today. There isn’t one single device that could be iconed. I like the idea of using the icon with the folder and the arrow pointing out of it for open, and the arrow pointing into the folder to save.

25. dhon - August 15, 2007

The problem is that the term ‘save’ is hard to iconify. It would be easier if the commonly used term was say ‘snapshot’, but I don’t think you can replace term usage in users as easily as you can an icon.

I agree with mpt that the save command should be abolished. Documents should either have built in versioning by default, or it should be built into the os. This is an area where it’s worth going against the norm.

Perhaps the save icon then should stay as a floppy, as a reminder that this antiquated practice needs to be fixed. Better yet I propose a new icon: FIXME

26. carthik - August 15, 2007

mpt, damn right you are!
I appreciate the fact that GNOME apps don’t have a “Save (Settings)” button – you make the change, and the change is made.

27. jon - August 16, 2007

It should go and a new icon then created for save.
A HDD isn’t appropriate either. Although they will be around for a long time many people have never had to open up their computers, and therefore don’t know what they look like.

28. choc - August 16, 2007

I’d go for the floppy too. The floppy is old technology, however, it’s an “ICON” amongst technolgy; literally! :)

Kind of like me wanting a ’60′s series Mustang or Corvette. Some things just don’t get out-of-date. Like the MRE’s in the U.S. Army…LOL, Last forever!!!

29. Terminally Incoherent » Blog Archive » Should the Save Icon Still be a Floppy? - August 17, 2007

[...] topic was shamelessly stolen from the Ubuntu Blog tags: save, save ico, floppy, floppy [...]

30. Conor Schaefer - August 29, 2007

Andreas said it first: The problem is solved elsewhere with a “Save to HD” icon. I know that in OS X, in NeoOffice, for example, the floppy icon was recently replaced with a “disk image” icon. I don’t like this nearly as much as the hard disk icon, which I think should be the new standard.

I also think that when hard drives as we know them (spinning platters) are no longer the standard, that the icon should change again. I mean, duh.

31. Steve - September 13, 2007

We should use something less transient, such as a bookcase or a file cabinet.

Though words are still best.

32. Osis - September 19, 2007

i am sawing all my documents over network – so what the icon will it be for me?i even do not know, if it is saved as file thwere where i save it.

33. slibuntu - October 12, 2007

Its a convention, and like many conventions can be nonsensical or misleading, but its just easier to leave it as it is, think native indians, or the conventional direction of flow of electric current, both factually incorrect, but we keep them around for handiness sake.
Imangine it was changed?! Support centres would be inundated with calls asking “how do i save my file?!” in mere seconds!

34. Tony - November 26, 2007

Words will always be best

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36. SIO - February 20, 2008

The floppy icon MUST stay!

First of all it is convenient, when the same buttons have the same icons in different applications. It is no matter, do users know, what it means or not – they are just used to see this icon at this place…

And don’t try to brake the stereotypes – you will not make it better. What do you offer? USB drive? CD? These icons are used for a long time already – but not for this goal…

37. ]V[ - March 13, 2008

I opt for Iconizing !

38. SIO - March 20, 2008

>>the GNOME “save file” icon is still an image of a floppy

The Gnome “Save” icon depends on icon pack you use, not an application

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That floppy got on my nerves from the very beginning. I think I saw it first in MS Word and they had it backwards! Annoyed me to no end.
I work with some application that use a folder with an arrow going out for “open” and a folder with an arrow going in for “save”. Makes much more sense for me.

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