Over a million developers have joined DZone.

10 Reasons Why You Should Use File Compare Tools

DZone 's Guide to

10 Reasons Why You Should Use File Compare Tools

· DevOps Zone ·
Free Resource
Software development has always been considered as the profession of geeks as it involves complex algorithm development and comparison techniques. Now, with the advancements in technology, several tools have been developed which have made software development particularly easier.  From GUI based IDEs to automatic code generators and comparison tools, several products are available in the market which helps developer to design and develop their applications more efficiently and effectively.

File comparison tools are one example of those tools which aids you to compare the contents of two files. In context of computing, file comparison is defined as automatic comparison of two files residing on any file system. Usually, you have to provide two or more than two files as input to these tools and in output the tool gives you statistical comparison of two files. Result usually includes the content which is different in two files and the content which is similar

These tools are of particular help to the software developers who otherwise would have to manually compare the code sections which is quite cumbersome task in this age when competition among software companies is getting more and tougher. Manual comparison can be time wasting and is subjected to human error as well which can be disastrous in development environment. This article contains reasons why you should utilized the power of a comparison tool in your software development.

Following are some of the advantages of using file compare tools:

1.  Saves Time. If files to be compared are small and concise, manual comparison can be a good choice; however in case of files containing thousands or sometimes millions of lines of code, manual comparison can take lots of time which directly affects the productivity of an organization or developer in particular, also your boss can get angry at you if you are not able to meet the deadlines. On the other hand employing an automatic comparison tool can save you lots of time and enables you to meet all your deadlines.

2.  Faultless Comparisons. Manual comparison of files can be erroneous as it is prone to human error. It is not an easy task for a person to compare each and every line of code and note down the differences and similarities line by line. On the flip side, automated comparison tools not only compare files quickly but also present the statistical difference and similarities in a very readable format, without room for any mistakes.

3.  Code Correction. In software development, it often happens that a small alteration or change in code leads to code not being compiled or in a runtime error. It usually occurs when an inexperienced programmer or someone else checks in the code by mistake. In order to detect and correct such changes in the code, comparison tools can be employed which can help you find the exact location of the change in code.

4.  Version Comparison. File comparison tools can also be used to find the difference between different versions of code. For instance a developer wants to go back to the previous versions or wants to find what modifications were done by some other developer. He can simply compare his version of the file with the previous version and can find out who wrote the piece of code or what is the impact of that piece of code on overall program and what will happen if that piece of code is removed.

5.  Version Merging. Version merging is another cool feature of file comparison software. As aforementioned, several developers are simultaneously working on the same application and writing their own piece of code. In such circumstances, situation may arise where a developer needs the code written by some other developer in his applications. To solve this problem, file comparison tools offer a feature of file merging. This feature can be used to find out difference between contents of two files and merge them into one file which results into a file containing code of both files but no section of code is repeated. This saves developer to write or copy paste code from other file into his file.

6.  Folder Comparison. Few File comparison tools also offer folder comparison capabilities. You can not only compare the contents of a file but also the files in a folder can be compared with each other and a whole folder can also be compared with another folder.

7.  Reporting Capability. Cool reports can be generated using file comparison tools. These reports contains statistical results of the comparison you made in graphical form several aspects of comparison are depicted by these reports such as the percentage of similarity, number of different lines or words and their location etc. Reports make it easier for a developer to directly reach the piece of code he wants to read or modify.

8.  Integration into IDEs. There are several file comparison tools available which can be integrated into different IDEs (Integrated Development Environment). It makes life really easy for developers because they don’t have to open a separate application for the sake of comparison, they can make code comparison within their development environment using these extensions.

9.  Multiple Format Comparisons. The comparison of these tools is not limited to single format. You can compare word, pdf, html, XML and other code formats using a single tool. It provides you an all in one comparison capability.

10.  Commenting Capability. File comparison tools often come with comment capability where you can add your comments regarding important differences between two files. It makes it easier for the developer to remember in future that what changes were made in the previous versions without having the need to look back to the comparison report in detail.

It can be concluded from the aforementioned detail that file comparison tools with its rich set of features have become an integral part of any software development organization. Organizations are employing better and quick comparison tools in order to speed up their development process and increase the quality of their products. A typical example of file comparison tool is “ Compare Suite ”. This product contains all the rich features of a modern comparison tools and can be employed to compare all major file types. The details of this product can be found at  http://www.comparesuite.com/

Wish you all the best in your coding endeavors. Happy coding!

Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.

{{ parent.title || parent.header.title}}

{{ parent.tldr }}

{{ parent.urlSource.name }}