Prompt to save unsaved changes in Deck options

Dialogs such as Preferences or Edit Current save changes without requiring user to confirm them via buttons such as Ok or Apply. Other dialogs such Card Types will warn if you try closing it without saving changes.

Not only Deck options will silently discard changes instead of saving, but its save button is located in such an unconventional place that it’s not obvious that you have to press in order to save changes. Moreover, if you close the dialog without saving, you might not notice that you haven’t saved the changes for quite a while.

The solution would be to either save changes at once or prompt the user to save if there are any unsaved changes. Also it would be nice if the Save button was moved to the conventional position.

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The save button is a big button, with color contrast. Add to that that every window (I can think of) in Anki has a button to close it, and that in the Deck options menu that Save button is the only such button, I think it’s quite hard to actually miss it…

However, I agree that preferences could just be updated as soon as you change them, and get rid of the Save button at once.

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Just the other day I saw a topic by a user who clearly missed the button, but while I was replying to it the user deleted it, and it is not the first time I see it.

The button is clearly visible, but it is located in such an unconventional place that even when you see it you will not immediately connect it with saving the dialog. It looks like it is related to the drop-down list only.

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I once knew someone who worked at an interface for a software used in nuclear power stations. One day, the nuclear plant asked him to add a pop-up when clicking on a button, to ensure people really new what they were doing before clicking that button, so he did. But some time later, they came back asking for a second pop-up, because people didn’t read the first pop-up: they just knew where to “make this pop-up happy” button was, so they clicked it without even reading it. So he added a second pop-up, to make it clear that it was an important decision to click that button. But it still wasn’t enough, so he had to add a third pop-up which requires explicit user input (ie. type in a field a certain sentence before proceeding) to ensure the users were reading the pop-up content.

In short: even if you are handing a nuclear power plant, you don’t necessarily read a tenth of the content of pop-ups like Anki’s deck option. Now, imagine you’re a user who has spent so little attention to that pop-up they can’t even find the most visible button on it. Do you really think they know what modifications they did to that settings? Or, rephrased: for the few users that are unable to find that “Save” button, do you really think it would help them if you could put it in a way they would even have to think less to find it? Or would it be like putting a “change my settings randomly” button in the middle of the interface?

My point is that maybe it would be better design to have that button in a better place, but you can’t prevent users from using poorly your interface even with a God-granted UI.

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Ha, ha this is so funny story.

Maybe there should be a captcha that allows to close the options window… ha, ha That would focus attention.

Sorry, I don’t want to offend anyone, but please people consider drinking a coffee before starting using Anki.

Anki is for people who want to study complex subjects like languages, medicine, etc. It requires serious intellectual activity. How come they can’t focus a bit more when editing options. I can’t believe…

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Or, rephrased: for the few users that are unable to find that “Save” button, do you really think it would help them if you could put it in a way they would even have to think less to find it?

Yes, absolutely. The interface that you don’t have to think about is the best interface.

Your story is funny but irrelevant though as a message is not a interface. You want to draw attention to the message. You don’t want to draw attention to the interface.

The location of the button is a minor issue, though. The big problem is that Anki silently discards changes. Basically no application does that. Users expect the settings to be silently saved or to be warned about unsaved changes. A reasonable user will assume that the dialog that closed without warning saved the data automatically. Only the most smart and attentive users such as @gnomek would in such case immediately remember that they didn’t press the save button. Other users will notice that their settings weren’t saved when they see Anki behave in the old way, which might take a long time. This might make them sad.

Good point. Confirmation pop ups are often unnecessary and always annoying, in my opinion.

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So if not via pop-ups (that seem to have ultimately worked), how would you solve the mentioned nuclear plant issue?

Give each employee the full manual of the software, with hidden in it the secret key combination that allows them to start the software :stuck_out_tongue:

Good point. IMO, Anki shouldn’t even have a “Save” button, and just save the changes directly…

The idea behind the story was to say that no matter how you design your interface, some users will always understand / use it poorly, or in an unintended way.

Indeed.

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The nuclear plant story is very eloquent and, in my experience, 100% true: people just learn to click OK on these pop-ups automatically, so the only effect of adding more and more popups (IMO) would be adding more complexity to the UI, without solving the problem.

Having said that, I see the problem your describe (it has also happened to me), and I don’t think that adding a pop-up in this particular case will be the end of the world, I’m just saying that, as a general rule, confirmation pop-ups are a poor UI design strategy.

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I am not particularly smart. I admit it happened to me to cloze options window without saving at first but when I realized there is a save button I started to save changes. That’s all.

We are talking about paying attention to a small action that is actually not that frequent while creating cards requires a lot more attention. Just pay attention.

Good point. IMO, Anki shouldn’t even have a “Save” button, and just save the changes directly…

Yes, this is one of the solutions that I initially suggested.

The idea behind the story was to say that no matter how you design your interface, some users will always understand / use it poorly, or in an unintended way.

I’ll be a bit nitpicky but it seems that the interface worked extremely well in this case. Good interface helps users do what they want, in this case they wanted to get rid of the popup and they seemed to have been able to do so very efficiently. In a similar fashion, the interface should help the user save the settings efficiently. A save button in a regular position is a perfect way to do that, but silent saving, along with the reset buttons, is common as well these days.

confirmation pop-ups are a poor UI design strategy.

Confirmation popups are very useful for settings that are more complex. If you spend a while changing a setting and then decide that you don’t want to have the change, you can simply discard your changes in the confirmation popup. If you don’t have that option, you have to recreate your setting manually. There are alternatives such as drafts or undos, but these are quite unconventional in settings.

Besides, a lot of GUI software uses confirmation popups. How can you just say that these people have been doing it wrong for years. Event CLI uses comparable confirmations for actions, as in delete file? yN.

We are talking about paying attention to a small action that is actually not that frequent while creating cards requires a lot more attention. Just pay attention.

You know, I actually don’t think that paying all of your attention would help. You’d have to know exactly how Anki deals with deck settings. Here’s two windows, deck options, and a an equalizer from my DAW. Both are windows with preset toolbars. Notice how both have the dropdown list with a preset, and a menu with various operations on presets. This pattern is very common in various software such as image or audio editors.

My DAW uses a menu but it’s not uncommon to have save buttons as well:

image
image

Guess what? The save preset option saves the preset. If I don’t save the preset and close the window, my settings are still preserved. I don’t need to press any save buttons to have the settings that I changed. Tell me, how the user is supposed to know that the button that is situated where the “save preset” option is commonly situated and that has a dropdown with stuff like “add preset” and “rename preset” is required to also save settings for the current deck?

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I have to agree with @oakkitten. The deck options provide a complex enough entry mask that, IMHO, some precautions have to be taken for users not to lose their changes. As a user I would expect the changes to either apply immediately (which seems to become a more common UX paradigm each day), or for the dialog to ask me to confirm whether I want to discard changes.

Also, to throw another argument into the mix: When you scroll down far enough, Save disappears:

If a user is unfamiliar with the dialog, by the time they get to the end of the settings they might simply forget to scroll up to click Save.

And as @oakkitten mentioned, since most (if not all) other parts of Anki’s UI place the Save button in a different location, there is no natural expectation to have to scroll up to save.

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This has happened to me so many times especially on phone, since in the old interface you didn’t have to press “save” separately.

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The Save button disappearing on scroll is confusing, and is tracked on the issue tracker.

One of the primary reasons the deck options screen requires an explicit save step is to prevent unintentional changes, since a single accidental added/removed digit may dramatically alter the scheduling.

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Well, in such case, as the title of this topic hints subtly, prompting to save unsaved changes is a great alternative. Silently discarding user input is not okay.

(And the Save button should really be moved from where it is now.)

For me save button keeps its position and is clearly visible.

Try making the window narrower.

And again, even if it is visible, it is located where preset operation buttons are located, and in its dropdown list there are preset operations. A reasonable user who is not entirely familiar with how Anki works would assume that this button only save the preset, and that settings for the current deck are saved at once. This is a common pattern in other applications. Anki breaks it completely.

Indeed. This seems to me a valid point.

But still if somebody is absent-minded they may save unwanted changes whether there is a pop-up or not. Let’s say you want to introduce changes, you do it and someone calls and your attention is redirected. There are people who are so absent minded that they forget what they have done and even save and cloze the window. To be honest I can live even with pop-up but there is really no cure for lack of attention. People can even kill themselves because of lack of attention even when there are warnings all over the place.

If we compare Anki to other programs’ preferences for example LO Writer there are Apply and OK buttons. So, at present Save is the same as Apply and Cloze window corresponds to OK.

Maybe placing Save button at the bottom of preferences window and OK/Cloze button to cloze window would be a compromise and it would serve its purpose?

A bottom bar that keeps always its position like in preferences window would be necessary.

Discard changes? Discard Cancel

A popup such as this is a very common and proven design pattern. It is of course possible to mistakenly click Discard but this will probably simply be good® enough™.

Besides, if Anki provides the regular Save¹ & Cancel buttons, you will only see the popup if you:

  • made changes
  • closed the window without pressing either of the buttons, as in by pressing × or Esc.

Which is to say, you will probably never see the popup.

¹ I would also add a note near the button that it will save settings for all the other decks that use the currently selected preset.

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