About two years ago we talked about filehamster. It was free, unobtrusive, and simpler than doing version control ‘by hand’ (adding numbers to filenames) or ‘by machine’ (using a proper versioning tool such as subversion or mercurial).
Well, since then filehamster has moved on to be a pain in the ass. Now the free version nags you a lot, and the paid versions are not really giving us any outstanding features. Plus as a .NET application, it eats up RAM.
Enter AutoVer. Completely freeware, no nags, and a much better interface to boot. The GUI and options make more sense too. I even use it for coding when I’m doing something small and a mercurial repo would be overkill.
Eventually, all writing applications should enable smooth versioning and real-time collaboration (Office 2010 beta does! Wave and etherpad are not alone anymore). The slider that controls versioning as in a time machine is fantastic. AutoVer would not give you that. The AutoVer model also breaks when you send the manuscript to a collaborator, and he edits it on his machine (often changing the file name). Still, it’s much better than not doing versioning at all or doing it by hand.
By the way, does anyone know an alternative that is cross-platform?