Comparison of file comparison tools

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This article compares computer software tools that compare files, and in many cases directories or folders, whether it is their main purpose or as part of more general file management.

General[edit]

Basic general information about file comparison software.

Name Creator Software license Cost First public release date Year of latest stable version Windows Macintosh Linux Other platforms Max Supported File Size
Beyond Compare Scooter Software[1] Proprietary $US30 (std), 50 (pro) 1996 2014 (v4.0.1) Yes Yes Yes
Compare++ Coode Software[2] Proprietary $29.95, 30-day free trial[3] 2010 2013 (v2.15) Yes[4] No No
diff, diff3 AT&T BSD 3-clause, BSD 4-clause, CDDL, GPL, Proprietary - 1974 Yes Yes (Mac OS X) Yes ported to most platforms as part of SCCS > 2GB but less than 64 bits
DiffTool[5] Ludwig Gruber Proprietary Free (on Google Play Store) 2014 2014 (1.36) No No No Android
Ediff Michael Kifer[6] GPL Free 1994 2.81.4 Yes Yes (Mac OS X) Yes Anything with Emacs
ExamDiff Pro PrestoSoft[7] Proprietary $35, free file-only version[8] 1998 2014 (v7.0.1.6) Yes (Win98 and up) No No
Far Manager (compare) Eugene Roshal (original); FAR Group Revised BSD license Free 1996 August 2014 (v 3.0 build 4040) Yes No No
fc Microsoft[9] Proprietary Part of OS 1987 Yes (DOS) No No
FileMerge Apple Inc. Proprietary Free (part of Apple Developer Tools) 1993 (part of NEXTSTEP 3.2[10]) 2014 (v2.8) No Yes (Mac OS X) No
Guiffy SureMerge Guiffy Software[11] Proprietary $37.50(Pro), 75(eXpert) 2000 November, 2014 (v11.0) Yes Yes Yes Anything with Java > 2GB
IntelliJ IDEA (compare) JetBrains[12] Proprietary Part of application 2007 (v6.0.5) Yes Yes Yes
jEdit JDiff plugin Various[13] GPL Free 1998 2012 (3.3.0) Yes Yes Yes Anything with Java
Kompare Otto Bruggeman[14] GPLv2+ Free Yes [15] Yes (Mac OS X) Yes
Lazarus Diff Lazarus (software) GPL - 2000 2009 Yes Yes Yes FreeBSD
Meld Stephen Kennedy[16] GPLv2+ - 2002 2014-09-27 (v3.12.0) Yes[17] Yes Yes BSD, Solaris
Perforce P4Merge Perforce Proprietary[18] - 2013 (2013.2) Yes Yes Yes Sun Solaris
Pretty Diff Austin Cheney[19] MIT-compatible Free 2009 2014-11-26 Yes (Web) Yes (Web) Yes (Web) Node.js, Windows Script Host
Tkdiff Tkdiff[20] GPLv2+ Free 2003 (or before) 2011-11-27 (v4.2) Yes (Tcl) Yes (Tcl) Yes (Tcl) Anything with Tcl
Total Commander (compare) Christian Ghisler[21] Proprietary Part of application 2010-12-17 (v7.56a) Yes No No
twdiff (TextWrangler Diff Helper) Bare Bones Software, Inc.[22] Proprietary free (with TextWrangler [free]) 2012 (1.0 (v22)) No Yes No No
vimdiff Bram Moolenaar et al. GPL-compatible - 2001 2006-05-07 (v7.0) Yes Yes Yes Anything with vim
WinDiff Microsoft[23] Proprietary Part of Platform SDK 1992 2003 ? (v6.1) Yes No No No
WinMerge Dean Grimm[24] GPL Free 1998 2013-02-03 (v2.14.0) Yes (Win95 and up) No No 2 GiB
UCC USC CSSE[25] USC-CSSE Limited Public License[26] Free 2009 2010-07 Yes Yes Yes {2.6.9} Sun Solaris
Name Creator Software license Cost First public release date Year of latest stable version Windows Macintosh Linux Other platforms Max Supported File Size

Compare features[edit]

Name Show in-line changes Directory comparison Binary comparison Moved lines 3-way comparison Merge Structured comparison[27]
Beyond Compare Yes Yes Yes No Yes (Files and Folders) Yes (Pro only)
Compare++ Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes (C/C++,C#,Java,Javascript,CSS3)
diff No Yes partly No No No
diff3 No No Yes (non-optional)
DiffTool Yes Yes Yes No No Yes (folders)
Eclipse (compare) Yes Yes Yes
Ediff Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
ExamDiff Pro Yes Yes Yes Yes[28] Yes (ExamDiff Pro Master, only) [29] Yes
Far Manager (compare) Yes (Via plugin) [30] Yes Yes Yes (Via plugin) [31] No No
fc No No Yes No No
FileMerge Yes Yes Yes Yes (optional ancestor) Yes
Guiffy SureMerge Yes Yes Yes Yes
IntelliJ IDEA (compare) Yes Yes Yes
jEdit JDiff plugin Yes No Yes
Kompare Yes No No
Lazarus Diff
Meld Yes Yes No No Yes Yes
Perforce P4Merge Yes No No Yes Yes
Pretty Diff Yes Yes No No No No Yes
Tkdiff Yes No No No No No
Total Commander (compare) Yes Yes Yes No Yes
vimdiff Yes Yes (via DirDiff plugin) No (can do 2, 3, or 4 file diffs, but not a 3-way diff)
WinDiff Yes Yes Yes Yes No No
WinMerge Yes Yes No Yes No Yes
UCC Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Name Show in-line changes Directory comparison Binary comparison Moved lines 3-way comparison Merge Structured comparison[27]

API / editor features[edit]

Name GUI CLI Scripting Horizontal / Vertical Syntax Highlighting Reports
Beyond Compare Yes Yes Yes both Yes XML, HTML, CSV, Text, Unix Patch
Compare++ Yes Yes both Yes HTML, Text(combined or side-by-side)
diff No Yes horizontal
diff3 No Yes horizontal
DiffTool Yes by Intent() Yes landscape + portrait Text
Eclipse (compare) Yes vertical Yes
Ediff Yes Yes elisp both Yes
ExamDiff Pro Yes Yes optional Yes UNIX, HTML, Diff
Far Manager (compare) Yes Yes Yes Yes No
fc No Yes horizontal
FileMerge Yes Yes vertical Yes No
Guiffy SureMerge Yes Yes Java API both Yes HTML, Text, Unix Patch
IntelliJ IDEA (compare) Yes vertical Yes
jEdit JDiff plugin Yes both Yes
Kompare Yes vertical No
Lazarus Diff Yes Yes
Meld Yes horizontal Yes No
Perforce P4Merge Yes Yes vertical No No
Pretty Diff Yes Yes JavaScript Both Yes XHTML
Tkdiff Yes
Total Commander (compare) Yes optional
vimdiff Yes Yes vim script both Yes HTML
WinDiff Yes Yes horizontal No Text
WinMerge Yes Yes vertical Yes CSV, Tab-delimited, HTML, XML
UCC Yes Yes vertical Yes Text, CSV
Name GUI CLI Scripting Horizontal / Vertical Syntax Highlighting Reports

Other features[edit]

Some other features which did not fit in previous table

Name ZIP support FTP support Version Control browsing Patch creation Patch application Patch preview Unicode support XML-aware
Beyond Compare Yes Yes Yes[32] Yes Yes Yes Yes
Compare++ SVN, CVS, Git, Microsoft TFS, Perforce, VSS using command line Yes
diff No No No Yes No No Yes No
diff3 No No No
DiffTool No No Yes [33]
Eclipse (compare) Yes
Ediff Yes Yes RCS, CVS, SVN, Mercurial, git (anything supported by Emacs' VC-mode)[34] Yes Yes Yes
ExamDiff Pro Yes[35] Yes[36] normal diff only Yes
Far Manager (compare) No No No No No No Yes No
fc No No No
FileMerge No supported by OS No No No
Guiffy SureMerge Yes Yes Yes[37]
IntelliJ IDEA (compare) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
jEdit JDiff plugin Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Kompare Yes
Lazarus Diff
Meld CVS, Subversion, Git, Mercurial, Baazar Yes Yes
Perforce P4Merge No Yes
Pretty Diff No No No No No No Yes Yes
Tkdiff No No CVS, RCS, Subversion No No No No No
Total Commander (compare) Yes Yes
vimdiff Yes Yes Yes Yes
WinDiff No No No No
WinMerge Yes No Mercurial,[38] Subversion,[39] Visual Source Safe, Rational ClearCase[40] Yes Yes
UCC Yes No Yes
Name ZIP support FTP support Version Control browsing Patch creation Patch application Patch preview Unicode support XML-aware

Aspects[edit]

What aspects can be / are compared?

Name Filename casing CRC Filedate Daylight saving Character casing
Beyond Compare Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Compare++ Yes Yes Yes Yes
diff Yes No No No Optional
diff3
DiffTool No Yes Yes Yes
Eclipse (compare)
Ediff
ExamDiff Pro No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Far Manager (compare) Yes No Yes No Yes
fc No Optional
FileMerge No No No Optional
Guiffy SureMerge filesystem dependent Yes Yes
IntelliJ IDEA (compare)
jEdit JDiff plugin
Kompare Yes
Lazarus Diff
Meld
Perforce P4Merge N/A No No No Yes
Pretty Diff N/A No No No Optional
Tkdiff
Total Commander (compare) Optional Yes (in synchronize only) Optional
vimdiff No No No No Yes
WinDiff No No when different Yes Optional
WinMerge No No Optional Optional
UCC No No Yes No
Name Filename casing CRC Filedate Daylight saving Character casing

Timezone effects[edit]

When files are transferred across time zones and between Microsoft FAT and NTFS file systems, the timestamp displayed by the same file may change, so that identical files with different storage histories are deemed different by a comparer that requires the timestamps to match. The difference is an exact number of hours up to 23 (same minutes and seconds) if the file was transported across zones; there is also a one-hour difference within a single zone caused by the transition between winter and daylight-saving time (DST). Some, but not all, file comparison and synchronisation software can be configured to ignore the DST and time-zone differences.[41] Software known to have daylight-saving compensation is marked in the Aspects table.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Scooter Software
  2. ^ Coode Software
  3. ^ Coodesoft trial
  4. ^ Compare++ Operating system information
  5. ^ Download DiffTool
  6. ^ Michael Kifer
  7. ^ PrestoSoft
  8. ^ ExamDiff Trial
  9. ^ Microsoft
  10. ^ NeXT Product Marketing (Fall 1993). "What's New in Release 3.2?". NEXTSTEP In Focus (NeXT Computer, Inc.) 3 (4). Retrieved 18 July 2014. 
  11. ^ Guiffy Software
  12. ^ JetBrains
  13. ^ jedit.org
  14. ^ Otto Bruggeman
  15. ^ Installing Kompare in Windows
  16. ^ Stephen Kennedy
  17. ^ Meld/Windows
  18. ^ Perforce Free License
  19. ^ Pretty Diff
  20. ^ tkdiff
  21. ^ Christian Ghisler
  22. ^ Bare Bones Software, Inc.
  23. ^ Microsoft
  24. ^ Dean Grimm
  25. ^ USC CSSE
  26. ^ USC-CSSE Limited Public License
  27. ^ a b Compare logical sections (class, methods)
  28. ^ Examdiff
  29. ^ Examdiff
  30. ^ Visual Rename
  31. ^ Visual Rename
  32. ^ Using Beyond Compare with Version Control Systems
  33. ^ auto detection of ASC-II, Latin-1, CP1252, UTF-8, UTF-16LE, UTF-16BE, Unix, Windows and Mac
  34. ^ gnu.org Support-for-Version-Control
  35. ^ through a plug-in
  36. ^ through a plug-in
  37. ^ UTF8, UTF16, MBCS, SJIS, over 150 file encoding and character set formats
  38. ^ "tortoisehg / stable / wiki / FAQ —". Bitbucket.org. Retrieved 2010-07-06. 
  39. ^ "Using WinMerge with other tools - WinMerge 2.12 Manual". Winmerge.org. Retrieved 2010-07-06. 
  40. ^ "About". WinMerge. Retrieved 2010-07-06. 
  41. ^ Example: "Beyond Compare" help describes a user setting "timezone differences - ignores timestamp differences that are multiples of an exact hour."