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WinMerge - a visual text differencing tool

Posted by ClifNotes, Mar 2009, permalink File Management


In my day job as an Electronics Technician, I'm on the computer more often than not. One of the nice breaks I get away from the PC is building printed circuit board assemblies (PCBs). Before I start on a new PCB, I have to take information from our designs and convert it into text files that run our manual part placement machine. I have a large Excel spreadsheet program that helps generate the text files but any wrong move on my part can really screw up the final assembly.


Me at Work and some of the stuff I help design


I found a single error while I was building the PCBs and I went back to the Excel sheets to find out what I'd done wrong. I had forgotten to sort a table before generating the text files. That meant that there were potentially many errors. I needed to compare my previous bad text files with the current ones to see how many errors I had made on my PCBs.


I decided to try WinMerge to identify the differences for me. Even though there were hundreds of lines of text to compare for differences, WinMerge found the differences between the files instantly and highlighted them for me. Thankfully I found only the single error that I'd already noticed.


Without WinMerge or a similar utility, I'd have spent an hour going through the text by hand. Not many people will need a utility like WinMerge, but if you do, it can be a huge time saver.


WinMerge is Free Open Source Software (FOSS) and is also available in two different portable versions in addition to the version at SourceForge.


Quote from the website

WinMerge is an Open Source differencing and merging tool for Windows. WinMerge can compare both folders and files, presenting differences in a visual text format that is easy to understand and handle.

Website - http://winmerge.org/

Portable Freeware - http://portableapps.com/news/2008-01-21_-_winmerge_portable_2.6.12

Portable Apps - http://www.winpenpack.com/main/download.php?view.27