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winmerge is an excellent, free diff- and merge tool with a comfortable GUI,
and best of all, the tool also provides a zero-install executable, perfect for use straight from usb sticks.

SFK The Book - New Productivity Heights.
 

download winmerge from sourceforge here.

  • click on the Downloads link
  • then click on Binaries (not Installer)
  • download and extract the zip
  • and copy the WinMerge.exe you find therein somewhere in your PATH.
that's it! now, to compare two files instantly, type for example
   winmerge source1.cpp source2.cpp

of course, copying just the single .exe means leaving out some features provided by plugins and filters - but so far I use only source code comparison (.cpp, .java) and for that the single .exe is sufficient.

comparing directory tree differences

winmerge is great for comparing two files, but when i try to compare whole directories this way:

   winmerge docs-old docs
i do get some overview:

but to really find out, for example, that FooBank\DB\source\DBController.cpp is different, I have to invest at least three double mouseclicks.
 

multiply this by all other files which may have differences, this clicking-around is a major waste of time - a problem common to most GUI based programs.

so let's get back to the command line, and do it fast, using the sfk run command:

   sfk run "winmerge $since $file" -sincedif docs-old docs

   [simulating:]
   winmerge docs-old\FooBank\DB\source\DBController.cpp docs\...\DBController.cpp
   winmerge docs-old\FooBank\GUI\include\FooGUI.hpp docs\...\FooGUI.hpp
   [add -yes to execute.]
as we see, there are two different files over the whole directory tree. (option -sincedif lists only different files, not added files.) if we add option "-yes" to above command, the previed winmerge commands are executed:
   sfk run "winmerge $since $file" -sincedif docs-old docs -yes
running winmerge instantly on the first different file:

when you're done reviewing these changes, close winmerge by a click at the right top, and the next different file will show up instantly.

further reading: another way of getting a fast overview of text file differences, using the cygwin "diff" command, can be found here.
 

Download the free Depeche View Lite Text Search Tool

 
 
 
 

 
 
Supersonic Text File Search - Free Download