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I'm looking for a couple of pieces of software and was hoping to get some expert opinion (that's why I'm asking you!).

First, I need a standalone diff/merge tool for Windows. I've seen a couple from searching Google, but was hoping for a non-paid version as it is only a temporary solution. If you don't know of a free one, I'll still be glad to know what you use that you were willing to pay for (and what you think of it).

Next, I'm looking for some time-boxing software. I saw this but didn't give it a try yet. I'm not really in need of its many features though. I just want a way to set tasks for specific times for each day of the week and have it repeat itself weekly. It should also reside in the system tray and just alert me when a box of time begins or ends. It would be nice if there was a way to sync it up with other computers over the internet (I regularly work on three machines), but that's not a firm requirement.

Do you know of anything? Maybe I should write it myself? (yeah, when I pull some time out of ...)

And just so you don't feel you've left empty-handed, I'll include this quote from Alberto Savoia at the blog for the book Beautiful Code:
The odds of finding truly beautiful code in most production systems seem to be on par with the odds of finding a well-read copy of IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering in Paris Hilton's apartment.
Thanks for the help!

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For diff software, I really like Beyond Compare.

Posted by Steve Bryant on Aug 10, 2007 at 12:26 PM UTC - 6 hrs

As far as the diff/merge stuff, I would give BeyondCompare 3-thumbs up if I had the necessary limbs. It has totally rocked my world. Not free, but worth the cost.

Posted by Ben Nadel on Aug 10, 2007 at 12:27 PM UTC - 6 hrs


* Visual differencing and merging of text files
* Flexible editor with syntax highlighting, line numbers and word-wrap
* Handles DOS, UNIX and MAC text file formats
* Unicode support
* Difference pane shows current difference in two vertical panes
* Location pane shows map of files compared
* Highlights differences inside lines in file compare
* Regular Expression based file filters in directory compare allow excluding and including items
* Moved lines detection in file compare
* Creates patch files
* Shell Integration (supports 64-bit Windows versions)
* Rudimentary Visual SourceSafe and Rational ClearCase integration
* Archive file support using 7-Zip
* Plugin support
* Localizable interface via resource DLL
* Online manual and installed HTML Help manual

Give it a go....


Posted by Dan Wilson on Aug 10, 2007 at 12:37 PM UTC - 6 hrs

I'm going to also recommend Beyond Compare. Worth every penny of the very reasonable asking price, not to mention a new version was just released this week (and is free to folks already running 2.0).


Posted by Nolan Erck on Aug 10, 2007 at 12:57 PM UTC - 6 hrs

Beyond Compare as well for me. They have a 30-day trial I think, but it is more than well worth the money. I've been using it for about 4 years now and it's absolutely a life-saver.

Posted by Mario Rodrigues on Aug 10, 2007 at 01:45 PM UTC - 6 hrs


Are you using version control? SVN has built-in diff and merge capability. Love it!

Posted by Ron Alexander on Aug 10, 2007 at 01:57 PM UTC - 6 hrs

We use Araxis Merge at work, but I use WinMerge for my own projects.

Posted by Adrian J. Moreno on Aug 10, 2007 at 02:08 PM UTC - 6 hrs

For the timeboxing solution, why not just use Outlook's Tasks?

Posted by Tony Petruzzi on Aug 10, 2007 at 02:11 PM UTC - 6 hrs

CSDIFF or CFDIFF available at should do the trick for you.

Posted by Hem Talreja on Aug 10, 2007 at 03:34 PM UTC - 6 hrs

I'm a longtime user of WinMerge. I've tried others but keep coming back to it.

Posted by Chris on Aug 10, 2007 at 04:21 PM UTC - 6 hrs

Winmerge for basic diff - Beyond Compare for heavy duty lifting. When I used to develop and deploy to remote sites via FTP it was a lifesaver. I would download the free trial and check it out - it is much more than a diff tool.

Posted by Jim Priest on Aug 10, 2007 at 04:31 PM UTC - 6 hrs

I've found the free version of ExamDiff ( good enough for my diffing needs, but it may not be powerful enough for a more hardcore developer.

Posted by Josh Tynjala on Aug 10, 2007 at 06:10 PM UTC - 6 hrs

@Everyone- Thanks for all the great suggestions. The only two I found during my search were the Araxis Merge and Compare and Merge.

I'll probably give winmerge a shot for solving this problem and purchase Beyond Compare for my own usage based on all the feedback here. It didn't come up in my search so I would never have found it. I'll also try the other suggestions as due diligence, but with so many thumbs up for Beyond Compare, it must be good.

(Ben, I know a surgeon who may be able to graft an extra thumb on your hand for you so you can give the 3 thumbs up.)

@Ron Alexander - I use version control when I can. The situation here is tricky, partially in that I have to wait for someone else to set it up, so at least I wanted them to use a merge utility (and me as well) when any of us "check in" code. That's why I said it was temporary.

@Tony - The reason I don't use Outlook tasks is that I haven't used Outlook itself years. =) However, I wouldn't have thought to use its tasks if I was using it so thanks for the suggestion. If I go back to it, I'll certainly give that a shot.

Thanks again everyone for the suggestions, you've all been a tremendous help and time-saver.

Posted by Sam on Aug 11, 2007 at 06:56 AM UTC - 6 hrs

Hi Sam,

I'm not a Windows user but Eric Sink's DiffMerge Tool might be what you are looking for.

Posted by Wolle on Aug 19, 2007 at 05:23 AM UTC - 6 hrs

Hi Sam,

If you have any "ugly merges" to do, our product, Guiffy SureMerge, is the most Trustworthy 3-way auto merge available. Guiffy is available on Windows, MacOS x, Linux, and Unix systems and support over 150 file encording/character set formats with builtin multi-lingual Unicode font support. It not free - But, sometimes you get what you pay for.

Other advanced Guiffy features include inline diffs highlighting and inplace editing. And, our Folder Compares fully supports Unicode file/folder names.

For further info. see:

Posted by Bill Ritcher on Jan 20, 2008 at 08:09 AM UTC - 6 hrs

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