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Wednesday, May 05, 2021

Comparing Tables with ExamDiff Pro

Did you know that you can use ExamDiff Pro to compare tabular data? Let's take a look at an example.

Let's say that I want to compare two comma-separated files that represent tabular data dumps from a database. The data came form the same table but it was sorted differently when each CSV file was created. The two sample files are available here. Our first attempt to compare these files with ExamDiff Pro is not very useful (click the images to enlarge):

There are too many differences shown, because the two files have been sorted differently. Fortunately, we can use a plug-in to sort the data by its primary key, in this case by the first column. We are going to use the xsv command line tool, which, among its other features, can sort CSV files by a given column.

To set up xsv as an ExamDiff Pro plug-in, download the latest version here, unzip it, and then set it up in ExamDiff Pro as follows (with the appropriate path to xsv.exe in the Application line):

Note the syntax: sort -s 1 -N. The -s 1 flag specifies that the we want to sort the data by the first column, and the -N flag indicates that it to be treated as numeric data. The results of using this plug-in are better but still not that useful:

The problem is the ModifiedDate column: it's completely different between these files, and that causes each row to be marked as a changed line. What if we don't care about this column? In this case, let's ignore it in the Options:

After clicking OK here's what we get:

Now this is something we can definitely use!


Sunday, February 14, 2021

ExamDiff Pro 12.0 Beta!

We are pleased to announce a public beta program for ExamDiff Pro 12.0.
You can download ExamDiff Pro 12.0 Beta for 32-bit Windows and for 64-bit Windows. The upgrade is free for all users who purchased ExamDiff Pro less than 12 months before this release (or more, depending on the number of maintenance years purchased).

Here's what's new in ExamDiff Pro 12.0 (as compared to 11.0):

New and Improved Diff Algorithms

ExamDiff Pro 12.0 features the biggest overhaul to the core diff algorithm in over a decade, with the addition of diff algorithm customization options and diff block alignment optimization, which positions diff blocks in a more intuitive way to make the differences clearer to see.

For more information, see our blog entry about the new and improved diff algorithms.

Ability to Ignore Columns in Tab/Comma-Separated Files

ExamDiff Pro 12.0 introduces a powerful new tool for comparing CSV and TSV files: the ability to ignore columns or column ranges as specified by delimiter characters (such as commas or tabs).

For more information, see our blog entry about ignoring columns in tab/comma-separated files.

Improved Dark Theme and Other Usability Improvements

ExamDiff Pro 12.0 will bring in a set of usability improvements to make your diffing experience as user-friendly as possible: an improved dark theme, light/dark theme auto-detection, the ability to search for specific messages in the Options panel, and more.

For more information, see our blog entry about usability improvements in version 12.0.

Other Additions In ExamDiff Pro 12.0

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Thursday, December 31, 2020

ExamDiff Pro 12.0: Improved Dark Theme and Other Usability Improvements

ExamDiff Pro 12.0 will bring in a set of usability improvements to make your diffing experience as user-friendly as possible.

First off, the dark theme first introduced in ExamDiff Pro 11.0 is getting a facelift. To illustrate it, take a look at the below comparison of dark mode in EDP 11.0 (on left) vs EDP 12.0 (on right):

As you can see, scroll bars are now styled according to the theme, and some other controls such as the diff combo bar at the top are styled a little better as well.

If you find yourself switching between light and dark mode in Windows, you'll appreciate the new View | Themes | Detect Automatically option, which switches ExamDiff Pro's theme automatically based on the Windows default app mode:

For example, now I can set the Windows default app mode to Light:

and ExamDiff Pro immediately switches back to the default light theme:

In addition to dark theme improvements, ExamDiff Pro 12.0 also adds the ability to search for specific messages in the Misc | Messages options panel using the same search interface as for other options. For example, if we want to disable the "Comparison too slow?" message, we can now just type in "comparison too slow" in the search field and we can easily find the desired message:

Last but not least, based on user requests, we're adding a View | Toolbar | Customize ... menu command that opens the toolbar customization dialog (which is also accessible through the Add or Remove Buttons | Customize ... context menu in the toolbars):

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Wednesday, December 30, 2020

ExamDiff Pro 12.0: Ability to Ignore Columns in Tab/Comma-Separated Files

ExamDiff Pro 12.0 will introduce a powerful new tool for comparing comma- or tab-delimited tables. Let's take a look at how it works.

Let's say that I'm comparing two tab-separated files, in this case the employee roster of a fictional company at two points in time (click the images to enlarge):

Unfortunately these comparison results aren't very helpful because there's an annoying Timestamp column that is completely different between the two files, causing the whole thing to be treated as a single diff block.

That's where the new option to ignore delimited column ranges comes in handy. I go to the Text Compare options panel, enable Column ranges under Ignore parts of each line, set the ignored column range to 1 (to ignore just the 1st column), and define columns as Parts delimited by any of ,\t, meaning that either commas or tabs will be treated as column breaks:

I click OK and voila:

The pesky Timestamp field is now ignored and I'm able to clearly see the actual differences between the two tables.

In this example I used tab-separated (TSV) files, but this feature works the same way for comma-separated (CSV) files, or even files separated by delimiters of your choice. You can ignore any combination of column ranges, and even combine this feature with other Ignore options for a truly customizable table-comparison experience.

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ExamDiff Pro 12.0: Apply Button in the Options Dialog

ExamDiff Pro 12.0 makes it easy to quickly test out display options with a new Apply button in the Options dialog.

Let's say we just ran a comparison and want to try out a different color scheme. We open the Display | Colors options panel and tweak some colors:

Click the Apply button to immediately apply these changes:

Oof, that actually looks hideous. We need to change it back!

Because the Apply button applies changes immediately, we can't click Cancel to undo them - the changes have already happened. Instead, let's reset with Reset To Default | Reset This Page Only and then hit Apply again, and we're back to how it was before:

The Apply button is also available in the Options | Display, Options | Display | View Filter, Options | Display | Dir Columns and Text Merge | Colors options panels, so you can easily test out all kinds of display-related options.

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