FileMerge - A file comparison tool from Apple

Feb 17, '03 09:24:00AM

Contributed by: robg

FileMergeThe macosxhints Rating:
8 of 10
[0 to 10 lights; 10 = perfect!]

After having spent this weekend working on something in excess of 250 files in three different varieties of Geeklog (the old 1.1 site, the development site, and the new release site), I became re-addicted to Apple's FileMerge tool ... even though I never used it for its full intended purpose!

FileMerge (which has been mentioned here before) is part of the Developer Tools (a 200mb download from the Developer site, once you register as a free online-only developer), and its mission is to compare two files and then merge the differences into one. However, I never trust tools that do such things, so I simply used its amazing file comparison features to make sure I was doing the right things to the right files. When you launch FileMerge, you're prompted for the locations of two files which then open in one window with a vertical divider down the middle.

FileMerge highlights the sections that differ in each file, and uses an arrow in the center area to show whether the higlighted item needs to be added to the right or left file in order to make them identical. I used FileMerge to open the stock versions of the Geeklog templates and compare them to the modified ones on my development server. I would then copy and paste and make the actual edits in BBEdit or vi. The visual cues provided by FileMerge were invaluable in helping me understand what I'd done to the code over the last few months ... and without its help, I probably would have been much more frustrated this weekend!

I'm sure there are other tools out there that do the same thing (and perhaps even better, and I could trust the merge function), including UNIX's diff command. But FileMerge was there, the smooth-scrolling auto-lineup feature has to be seen to be understood (it's very cool), and it was free ... so it's this week's PotW!

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