Websites like Google Docs will save each character you input and allow you to go back in time character by character or word by word instead of being forced to manually commit locally and then push it to a central repository.

What kind of paid or free real time version control options are there for code editor software with backup/snapshot functionality?

  • 2
    What operating system? Or browser based? Free, or do you have a budget? Are you only interested in plain text? Is this real version control? Do you want to be able to label? To branch? The more information you give us, the more we might be able to help you. This seems pretty vague, although if you do only have a single requirement then @Chicks answer should be accepted. If not, please update your question. Have a look at How to Ask. And welcome aboard :-) Nov 24, 2015 at 10:49
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    Thanks Mawg. It is confusing that the accepted answer seems to contradict the question.
    – chicks
    Nov 25, 2015 at 2:28
  • Well, the questioner is new, but hopefully he will learn. The more information he gives us, the more we can help him. Please keep answering (and asking). I upvoted your answer and comment, to thank you for participating. Nov 25, 2015 at 14:37

4 Answers 4


This behaviour may be easily achieved with git and some user scripts for auto-committing changes to some ref. And in programming work the most affinity for scripting shows Emacs. It is no more than just a gigantic bunch of scripts combined together.

Emacs has magit extension, that provides broad git support. It adds wip-mode that creates temporal refs in .git directory, auto-commits to them and allows retrieve information from it just as easy as from any other regular commit.

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    I know this is old, but you can achieve this with engineone.io. (Disclosure: I'm one of the founders)
    – Sthe
    Feb 9, 2018 at 14:34

vim and derivatives include infinite undo so you can get back to the version of the document you opened. Recent version of vim also allow persistent undo so you can keep your undos even if you exit the editor.

  • Technically, infinite undo is impossible (just copy/paste different 4 GB texts for ~1000 times). Undolevels seems to be 1000 by default on Linux. Nov 24, 2015 at 15:56

Google Docs is based on the Operational Transformation (OT) technology. Check out the Wikipedia article for more details: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operational_transformation

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    Does that ,mean that it can do what the OP asks for? Can you tell us how? Nov 25, 2015 at 14:37

Well, I am a bit late to the party with this one :-)

But, I do most of my coding in Eclipe. I have separate versions for c/c++, PHP, AngularJs and Python.

It also supports Java and a plethora of other languages:

Ada, ABAP, C, C++, C#, COBOL, D, Fortran, Haskell, JavaScript, Julia, Lasso, Lua, NATURAL, Perl, PHP, Prolog, Python, R, Ruby (including Ruby on Rails framework), Rust, Scala, Clojure, Groovy, Scheme, and Erlang

It has excellent Undo/Redo capabilities, but I think you will really appreciate is that it maintains a local history of the file with each save (I generally auto-save on compile), and you can then see a diff of your current code with any previous version:

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  • Does it support Python 3 'well' as in great auto-complete, syntax highlighting, module detection even from third parties?
    – Ben
    Jul 20, 2018 at 11:32
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    To be honest, I much prefer the community version of PyCharm to Eclipse, but that doesn't have the local file history :-( It's probably best if you take Eclipse for a quick test drive. It's the industry standard IDE for many languages. I certainly has auto-complete and syntax highlighting, plus more; I am unsure about 3rd party module detection. Jul 20, 2018 at 11:39

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