Apr 10 2008

In praise of … Beyond Compare

Published by at 7:44 am under Technology

Everyone has their favorite utility programs, those trusty apps that we just can’t live without. For me perhaps at the top of the list is the outstanding file comparison program, Beyond Compare from Scooter Software.

There are certain tools which are so well designed and implemented that using them becomes like second nature. Beyond Compare is one of those tools for me. Beyond Compare allows you to compare directories of files and highlights for you the differences. You can define what constitutes a file difference (i.e. text comparison, binary comparison, timestamp comparison), you can choose to ignore certain files which you don’t care about (i.e. maybe extraneous thumbnail files), and you can tailor what is shown to you (like all files, just mismatched files, just orphan files, etc…). Once file differences are located, you can sync up the files, or you can open a file comparison window that shows exactly what the differences are. From there you can pick and choose parts of the differences that you want to move from one file to the other.

Another great feature is that you can script your actions, allowing you to automatically sync file systems. Just create a scheduled task in Windows that invokes a given session of Beyond Compare, and it will completely sync two file trees in the background, using all the logic that you defined for that session. Also, the file systems you are dealing with don’t have to be just on your network; you can compare/sync to an FTP site as well.

I’ve used Beyond Compare daily for years to handle code promotion in a 3-tier development environment. It’s always worked quickly and flawlessly for me. Beyond Compare is not a free tool – but it is so affordable that buying it is really a no-brainer. Thanks Scooter Software for creating such an outstanding tool!

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