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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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