Need to ‘Undo’ on web applications

September 12, 2007

The undo problem is one key aspect I am hoping future web apps will support. I just deleted all my mails in my hotmail inbox and I need to ‘Undo’ but I can’t do it. If this was a desktop application I could have done this in a jiffy. Undo

This is a huge problem in web apps, though they are not covered too much and not many people talk about them, as we are now pretty much used to this kind of behavior. Web apps work excellent, they store all our data, enable us to access them from anywhere and give us no worry about licenses etc.

But as we move towards looking at a cloud or what some people call as a ‘cloud OS’ it becomes increasingly important to have all the desktop paradigms on the web. This problem was probably not thought about by people because when the web started it was more a data storage medium where documents, files etc were stored and people would read from it, so probably there was never a need for offlines access or storing states. But as we move towards having a cloud OS, and making the web a operation system, it becomes very very important to look at such issues.

John Dowdell from macromedia has some interesting thoughts on storing states where he basically argues as to whether the Back button on the browser needs to smart to capture these changes and also talks about capturing states in web apps.

Having an undo functionality brings about a sense of simplicity in the user’s mind – “What the heck, I can always undo it” and hence brings more confidence. This will play a vital role as people from different age groups, degrees of tech saviness etc start using the web to perform very important and secure activities like paying bills, making purchases online etc.

What’s your solution to this problem ? The best answer gets a special feature on this blog.

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2 Responses to “Need to ‘Undo’ on web applications”


  1. Gmail does have an immediate undo link.

    Desired Feature: A auto-log of all activities with the select & undo feature.


  2. Yes, I guess that’s the intent here. Gmail is more of an activity oriented application, so the undo feature isn’t too tricky. But if you have to rollback things from a log, then there are multiple scenarios which need to be handled here.

    What do you think ?


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