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Re: [opencm-dev] Re: [A few SCM lists] Diff/Comparison of file formats others than ASCII/source code?

From: David Brown <opencm_at_davidb.org>
Date: 2002-08-14 18:20:44 CEST

On Wed, Aug 14, 2002 at 09:07:53AM +0200, Alessandro Bottoni wrote:

> Strangely enough, there are very few of such "file-format-specific"
> Diff/Merge tools around. This is strange because it is clear that such tools
> could have a huge market. Just think to how many companies have large
> repositories of CAD drawings, RTF (or, worse, MS Word) documents and HTML
> files (that is: web sites). A RCS tool that was able to manage such file
> formats would be of great help for a lot of people.
> I hope that some developer of the list will think over this market
> niche (even if as a commercial, not open source, one).

Part of the reason may just be the definition of "diference". For text
files, it is simple to define a difference. Break the file into lines,
and report which lines are different. Most of the additional features
of modern text diff tools has to do with how to present the information.

Other file formats cause the issue to become significantly more
complicated. Take MS-word for example. Word itself will gladly show
you document differences between two documents where small changes have
been made to the contents of text. But what if one document has had
significant formatting changes (change the paragraph style). How would
you do a merge if one branch changed the formatting, and the other
branch changed the text, or maybe a different aspect of the formatting.

CAD drawings are even more difficult. It may not be difficult to
determine what has changed, but how do you represent that change. A
diff tool is plausible (show both drawings, in different colors, for
example), but a merge is even more difficult.

Dave Brown

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Received on Wed Aug 14 18:35:49 2002

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