Side by Side Comparison Utilities
Side by side comparison tools allow the detection and merging of changes and differences between two files, folders, or directories, saving users much time and labor. Check additional information about side by side comparison.
Although many computing tasks can indeed be done manually, with the user making use only of the operating system or the program in question, sometimes, tools prove useful. Even expert programmers and computer users may appreciate the help that various utilities provide, though they may not exactly need them. For instance, side by side comparison tools are used for many different purposes, such as programming and keeping various directories and files synchronized. They are invaluable in spotting tiny differences that may either be overlooked in a quick examination, or take too long to spot normally.
These comparison tools are sometimes called difference tools because they are often used to highlight the differences between two files or directories. Using these difference tools, the two objects to be compared can be displayed side by side, and their differences visually indicated by highlighting. This makes these differences or changes much easier to spot, and the user can then decide whether they require action. In a program, for instance, slight differences may mean big changes in how they execute and behave. Using difference tools, these may then be set right, and errors may be avoided.
Apart from just showing the differences between two objects at a single point in time, some utilities can even track changes through time. This is especially useful for tracking the differences between two objects that are updated often by many different people. Collaborative documents and shared directories become much easier to manage and monitor with the use of the proper utilities. Otherwise, it can quickly become too much to handle for a single person to try and keep track of the many changes!
Most of these tools also provide the option to merge the differences between two files from one to another, vice versa, or in both directions. That is, the characteristics or contents of object A not found in object B could be carried over, and the same performed for those not in object A found in object B. In this way, the changes made to one directory or file may be quickly duplicated or transferred to another directory or file. This is a very helpful feature for synchronizing different files, folders, or even entire directories across different computers, for example.
There are general purpose visual differencing or comparison tools that take any block of text and simply highlight their differences, but there are also more specialized utilities. Some utilities can recognize the syntax of specific programming and scripting languages, highlighting the commands and delimiters. Using these editors, programmers can more easily visualize and recognize a program's structure. The differences between two programs then become more easily understandable, helping in the overall process.
Side by side comparison utilities are undeniably helpful in many different applications. From programming to administration, they save a lot of time and effort. By highlighting changes and making them easier to spot and manage, working with many different files becomes much easier. This allows for collaborative work, as well as maintaining a single version of many different copies of the same object.