Windows Diff Tool – WinMerge

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When programming, it’s very useful to be able to find the differences between two text files.
On a Mac, I would use the built-in awesome diff utility, FileMerge.
It even has a nice command-line interface via the “opendiff” command.

But currently I’m stuck on Windows
(curse you, gaming industry, for preferring the Windows platform for game development!)
and need to find a diff tool there.
There are several, and I was going to go through them writing mini-reviews for each, but a clear winner emerged so quickly I won’t bother.

WinMerge quickly became the obvious choice.
It is GPL licensed, and hosted on SourceForge.
I did briefly look at FreeDiff, but it suffered from

  1. clearly being a “gateway” app to other commercial apps (ad dialog on quit)
  2. being written in Visual Basic
  3. requiring 8 clicks to cancel an install!
  4. trying to overwrite C:\Windows\system32\scrrun.dll!!
  5. looking like a Windows 95 app
  6. Separating line numbers from content with a period
  7. Not supporting mouse wheel e3vents
  8. Not knowing which DLLs it could remove when uninstalled (I probably have a few ancient DLLs hanging around now)

The initial UI for WinMerge has huge fonts.
Thankfully you can reduce them quickly using ctrl-minus (ctrl– doesn’t quite look right..).
It seems to be quite a rich application, complete with plugin architecture(!).

I’ll try to write more after I’ve had some time to check it out more.

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