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Saturday, January 06, 2024

ExamDiff Pro 15.0: Directory Filtering Improvements

ExamDiff Pro 15.0 will introduce a set of features to improve the experience around using view filters in directory comparison. View filters let you quickly filter which items (files/directories) are shown in a directory comparison session, filtering either based on an item's path or by an item's comparison status.

Separate toggles for Status View Filter and Path View Filter

First, the View | Use View Filter command is being separated into two separate commands, View | Use Status View Filter and View | Use Path View Filter, with two separate corresponding toolbar buttons, that allow controlling these two options separately, as shown below. (Note that the actual view filter options continue to be under Options | Display | View Filter.)

This can be useful in situations where you want to toggle either the status or path filter on and off while keeping the other filter set. For example, you might want to exclude certain directories from the view (using the path view filter), and you want to repeatedly toggle whether identical items are shown or hidden (using the status view filter). Prior to this change, you would have had to toggle the entire View Filter on and off, but this would also toggle the path view filter, causing directories that you don't care about to come into view – annoying! Now you'll be able to actually control these two filters independently.

Quick Path View Filter toolbar

But what if you want to see certain files, and you don't want to have to keep opening the Options dialog each time you change the path filter? ExamDiff Pro 15.0 introduces a Quick path view filter to help with this. It's an additional path filter that you can control directly from the toolbar. You can think of this feature as basically a fancy search bar, because it lets you immediately find files and directories by simply typing in their names, paths, or extensions.

For example, let's say I'm comparing a pair of directories, and I want to hone in on just the AVI files within these directories. All I have to do is type "*.avi" into the Quick path view filter text box:

And when I press Enter or click the Apply Filter button, the filter is immediately applied:

Because this view filter is also controlled separately from the others, we can separately enable a status view filter as well. For example, if I want to check if any of these *.avi files are identical, I can just click the Show Only Identical quick status filter toolbar button:

If I'm done focusing on *.avi files, I can now clear the quick path view filter by clicking on the Clear Filter button next to the textbox. Note that the Show Only Identical status filter continues to be set because it's controlled independently:

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Wednesday, January 03, 2024

ExamDiff Pro 15.0: Fast Content Comparison Mode for Directory Comparison

Historically, ExamDiff Pro has had two main ways to compare files within directories: file metadata comparison, in which only the metadata for a given file (such as timestamp, file size, etc) was looked at, and "full file comparison", in which pairs of files were compared exactly the same way that happens in regular file comparison, using all available file comparison options (plug-ins, Ignore options, etc). The trade-off has been that file metadata comparison is imprecise and can produce "false positives" (different files marked as a identical) or "false negatives" (vice versa), while full file comparison can be very time-intensive when large files are involved or when many plug-ins or other advanced options are invoked.

ExamDiff Pro 15.0 introduces a new "fast file content comparison" mode that is essentially a middle ground between the two existing modes. In this mode, file contents are compared like in full file comparison mode, but with two important differences to speed up comparison. First, none of the advanced comparison options (Plug-ins, document types, Ignore options, etc) are used. Secondly, the files are compared byte-by-byte, and comparison ends as soon as the first difference is found (if the files are different). In certain situations (such as very large files with many differences), this can save a huge amount of comparison time (because only a fraction of each file is being looked at), while still producing accurate results.

We think that this fast content comparison mode will be useful for most ExamDiff Pro users. The main situations where you might want to still use full file comparison mode would be cases in which the advanced file comparison options offered by full file comparison would actually affect whether files are identical or different in a directory. For example, you might have some source code files that are identical except for comments (requiring the use of document type features) or some Word documents with identical text but differences in formatting that you don't care about (requiring the use of Plug-ins).

To enable this new comparison mode, select Perform file content comparison under Options | Directory Comparison | Comparison precision and check the Compare files byte-by-byte (fast mode) option:

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