Beyond Compare 2

Beyond Compare 2 is an outstanding file and folder comparison software. It can be used for comparing and merging plain text, source code and binary files, as well as synchronizing local and networked folders. Although Beyond Compare supports a wide range of automatic functions, its main goal is to help the user analyze differences in detail, and carefully reconcile them.

Beyond Compare File Comparison

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Beyond Compare is localized in over 10 various languages, including Japanese, Korean and Chinese. The software also has multi-language online support.

Beyond Compare has a standard side-by-side color-coded user interface with two comparison panels, menu bar and customized toolbars. Beyond Compare file comparison view also contains Edit panel, which can be used to modify the selected lines from the comparison panel. By default, the Folder Comparison window contains log panel. Beyond Compare user interface is fully customizable; the user can show/hide toolbars and panels by selecting appropriate commands the View menu.

Beyond Compare startup dialog allows the user to open a new pair of files/ folders, or launch the Compare Wizard. In the Compare Wizard, the user can open the following comparison projects: Compare two files/folders, Compare and merge source code, Verify copy of data, Synchronize with FTP site, Create folder snapshot in time.

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Beyond Compare uses File Comparison Rules associated with different file types (for instance, *.cpp,*.h or *.pas,*.dfm,*.dpr files). Comparison rules have advanced settings, including tab stops, text ignore options, maximum line length, character set encoding, and alignment options. The user can create custom rules for specific file extensions, or edit existing rules. Comparison rules are particularly important for large revision control projects containing a large number of files in different formats.

Unfortunately, Beyond Compare does not support by-char or by-keyword comparison. By default, Beyond Compare aligns the lines in both compared files automatically and formats the text according to the specified comparison rule. Similar to Visual Comparer, the user can also align each line manually using Align Manually command in the context menu, or even isolate specific line(s). Beyond Compare also allows the user to edit the compared text in the Edit panel. To merge the files, the user can select the appropriate lines and then use context menu commands or toolbar buttons.

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Beyond Compare has powerful folder comparison functionality. The user can compare two isolated folders as well as entire directory trees. The user can also specify file filters for both compared folders. Beyond Compare can compare files by date/time and by file contents. The software supports outstanding byte-by-byte comparison functionality, which is specifically useful for large comparison projects with binary files. Unlike Diff’n’Merge, its byte-by-byte comparison operation is quite fast and requires less system resources. Beyond Compare can also compare files by their numeric versions (CRC comparison). For folders containing source code files, the user can enable Rule-based text comparison.

Beyond Compare has extensive folder synchronization functionality. The user can synchronize entire folders as well as specific parts of the folders only. The user can also change attributes of the compared files/folders, change timestamps (Actions menu >> Touch…) or exclude a file from the current comparison session. Beyond Compare can also save the current state of a folder in a special snapshot file.Beyond Compare contains one unique feature: Session Manager, which allows the user to specify the file filters and attributes, comparison criteria and other advanced options. The user can also lock the current session, in order to prevent undesirable changes to the session settings.

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Beyond Compare has extensive and highly customizable report functionality for file and folder comparison project. The user can select the following report layout: side-by-side, composite, or statistics; the report can also be exported as UNIX patch, or XML dump. Each report layout has its advanced options. The report can be saved to HTML or plain text file, or sent to printer.

The user can also export/ import Beyond Compare settings, including all current sessions and rules.

Command line: supported
Beyond Compare provides for command line support. It also can be used as an external diff in version control systems.

Explorer integration: supported
Beyond Compare can be integrated in MS Windows explorer to provide quick access to the software.

Plug-ins: supported
The user can use additional plug-ins in order to compare data files (CSV), image formats, exe/dll version information, mp3 files, and icon/cursor files. Beyond Compare plug-ins are completely separate viewers and require registration. More information on Beyond Compare plug-ins can be found here.

Beyond Compare also supports file conversion to compare the files in the regular text viewer, and has predefined rules for other file formats, including MS Word.

Help/Manual: score3.gif
Unlike most comparison software, Beyond Compare has comprehensive and detailed user manual, which describes all software operations.

Beyond Compare-2 personal license can be purchased for $30 USD. Fully-functional 30-day trial version can be downloaded here.

Beyond Compare 2 is a great software solution for almost any revision control project. It has powerful merge and synchronization functionality. However, Beyond Compare 2 is not completely suitable for the comparison of MS Excel and Word files. If your comparison project includes largely MS Office documents, we advise you to use Compare Suite.

Beyond Compare 2 has slightly complicated interface, which requires some time to get familiar with. If you only need a small utility for occasional comparison jobs, you might consider using IsEqual file comparison program.

In conclusion, Beyond Compare 2 is one of the best comparison programs designed for professional users, software engineers and web developers. Our rating for Beyond Compare-2 is 9/10.

Price: 30$

Supported file formats: plain text, HTML/XML, source code, binary files
Plug-ins for: data files (CSV), image formats, exe/dll version information, mp3 files, icon/cursor files, MS Office and others

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Integration with version control systems Yes
Folder comparison
Folder hierarchy synchronization Yes
Custom file filters
Byte-by-byte comparison Yes