"Changes is a good step in the right direction"
Version: Changes 1.0.2
This review was originally posted on VersionTracker.com.
Every few months I go looking for a Mac replacement for Beyond Compare (pc only) from Scooter Software - the best file/folder synchronization/merging tool I have ever used - one of the few pieces of software that's far stronger on the pc than the mac.
As a web developer with dozens of active sites, many under version control, spread between development => staging =>production servers, a robust file/directory comparison app is key.
I like Changes. I'm sitting in the demo period still but there's a 90% chance I'll buy it. I buy and use shareware regularly (two this week so far: ExpanDrive and MarsEdit) and believe in buying an app even when it's only 4/5ths baked so as to encourage/support excellent app development on the mac.
That said - this is still a ways off from Beyond Compare for me.
Changes: The good
Changes' ability to compare from within textmate is very cool (it also does bbedit/textwrangler, dreamweaver, others), and I can see myself using that a lot - but it appears to work for files only (not folders). I got very strange results attempting to compare a folder from the project drawer to a file. It's ability to compare with previous revisions in Subversion via Textmate is, frankly, magical. Using MacFuse to connect w/ remote drives is great -- nice work there. The exclusion filter is handy and intuitive, too, with a nice set of defaults set up.
Changes: Some failings
One of the things I like best about BC is the ability to merge over only a single line between two conflicted docs while keeping the rest stet, or to edit a line directly within the program. I also miss having saved bookmarks for regular comparisons. BC's speed is excellent too, partly because it doesn't do the entire compare at once. If you're comparing two massive folder structures over a network - it just compares the top level until you click a folder. Changes seems to try to do everything at once - though it handles it fairly well.
Setting up comparisons feels mouse heavy & tedious to me as well.
I find some of the interface non-intuitive. ie - when you're comparing two folders, and double click on a document set - how do you merge the changes? I'd like more context-sensitive right click menus. Some of the interface felt like it should be clickable, ie: the folder crumb navigation at the bottom of a file to file comparison, or the 'orginal' vs 'modified' folders in the New Session dialogue. I also felt like the interface was too big - the top bar too big, icons too big
So why am I giving this five stars?
It's the best there is on the Mac right now, and because I want people to download and buy this already robust app and for the developer to have the time/wherewithal/enthusiasm to put out a kickass version on the next rev.
I just found & tried out Araxis Merge too - which seems like a very decent app, though at 3x the price of Changes for the 'standard version'. You can do line-by-line merges, and there's syntax highlighting (cool), but no external app integration and no exclusion filters(? my screen is full of .svn folders...).
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