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CSCW 2022

Towards Creative Version Control

Sarah Sterman, Molly Jane Nicholas, and Eric Paulos



Version control systems are powerful tools for managing history information and shaping personal and collaborative processes. While many complex tools exist for software engineering, and basic functionality for capturing versions is often found in collaborative applications such as text editors and design layout tools, these systems are not attuned to the needs and behaviors of creative practitioners within those domains, and fail to support creative practitioners in many others. Through 18 semi-structured interviews across diverse domains of creativity, we investigate how creative practitioners use version histories in their process. With the familiar paradigms and features of software version control as an organizing structure, we discuss how these creative practitioners embrace, challenge, and complicate uses of version histories in four ways: using versions as a palette of materials, providing confidence and freedom to explore, leveraging low-fidelity version capture, and reflecting on and reusing versions across long time scales. We discuss how the themes present across this wide range of mediums and domains can provide insight into future designs and uses of version control systems to support creative process.



HEL Authors:


Eric Paulos


Molly Nicholas


Sarah Sterman

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