Visual Diff Tools Revisited

Back in June, I mentioned that my favorite visual differencing tool was Araxis Merge. A co-worker recently recommended that I try out Beyond Compare, so I downloaded the 30-day trial and spent an hour playing with it. It's definitely comparable to Araxis Merge. And in a lot of ways, it's better. But the real kicker is this:

This is a companion discussion topic for the original blog entry at:

Hey - creator of Unleash It here, what problems or things do you feel would make Unleash It better?

A feature of Beyond Compare that I particularly like is that one side of the comparison can be an FTP address. I use it to synchronize my development work with my company machine (I usually work from home); and to synchronize my web site with a local directory. It has an “exact copy” mode that will copy in both directions, but automatically back up files before it replaces them. An excellent program.

Unlea what? :slight_smile:

Hey - creator of Unleash It here

I try not to be critical of free software. And Unleash It is well written like all your stuff, Matt:

We did work with Unleash It for a while, but it doesn’t offer the breadth of comparison options that BC does. I was also kind of annoyed that in the VS.NET ide it doesn’t automatically remember the last settings I used for that project without making me jump through hoops. That would be my main complaint: Unleash It should automatically remember what I last did on a per-project basis.

Have you tried WinMerge

Screenshots here

I have heard of it, but haven’t tried it. The WinMerge interface is… kinda SourceSafe-y. But free is free!

Has anyone directly compared Beyond Compare and WinMerge?

What about free visualising tools?

Beyond Compare is definitely the best bang for the buck (even taking into consideration the free options). When looking for a comparison tools, I tried many of them before choosing BC. Araxis… WAY too expensive. 3-way merging is nice, but for over $200 more than BC? IDM UltraCompare is really new and still doesn’t have all of the features of a more mature product… in fact, it looks like they are just coping BC. WinMerge looks a lot better now than when I originally looked at it… but is still missing many features that I need.

We have been ECSTATICALLY happy with BC.

My only complaint is that there isn’t enough progress feedback for very long comparisons… the only way you can tell one is in progress is via the folder indicator (which isn’t very specific-- only shows the topmost compared folder even if you’re comparing 1,000 subfolders), and that the “stop” toolbar button is active.

I’d like to know more substantively how long a comparision is going to take, and exactly what the progress is so far.

I highly recommend browsing around the BC forum; there’s a nice community there with lots of cool tips, and you also get a sense of what’s coming in the next version (eg, improved comparison progress feedback)

What about a comparison program for mac??? i been searching the net now for days for a decent one :s
I used winmerge on my windows machine and i guess its the best free software out there… The beyond compared trial did kick ass tho … but yet, all on my windows machine… I’m now using my mac for developing… and am not able to find a decent compare program :frowning: :frowning:

Another interesting one I’ve used is “Compare It”, from Grigsoft:
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Unfortunately, it only deals with file-to-file comparison. It cannot do directory comparisons.

you forgot this one:
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called textdiff, free.
Light, but nice.

Also test
For 3-way merge!

What about a comparison program for mac???

Bastom, did you see this list?
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There are a few Mac programs between them also.

3-way merge like Araxis, but nearly the price of BC… There’s Elli Computing Merge (

And it runs on Windows, Linux and Solaris.
Pretty sure the Mac port is on the way :wink:
It worths a try.

Mac tool (free) - Install developer tools from your OS cd


I was a die hard BC user but a couple of things started to annoy me. So I looked around and came across WinMerge. Its great (and free). It has everything I wanted and more. The only thing was that initially put me off was the default coloring scheme. But now I have configured that just how I like. Also, if you find it isnt working exactly the way you want, have a look at all the options etc - I repeatedly found i could configure it just the way I wanted.

Beyond Compare 3 Professional is coming later this year. It supports full-screen edit mode, syntax high-lighting, 3-way merge, and much much more. I’ve tried Araxis Merge. BC3 is gonna blow it away (IMHO).

Does anyone know of a 3-way merge tool that integrates with CVS (or, ideally, WinCVS)?

TIA - Paul Sanders

Hello again,

Played around with KDIFF3 a bit and came up with the following (Windows) batch file (run this from a command window for each offending file after doing a cvs update):

@echo off
if “%2” == “” goto usage

set filename=%1
set rev=%2

@echo on
cvs update -r %rev% -p %filename% f1
cvs update -p %filename% f2
copy .#%filename%.%rev% f3
start “kdiff3” “c:\program files\kdiff3\kdiff3.exe” f1 f2 f3 -m -o merged
@goto end

echo Usage: m3 filename base_rev
echo Example: m3 AboutDialog.cpp 1.6
echo Leaves merged output in file ‘merged’


araxis merge offers 3 way compare, i’ve used it with subversion in the past