Open source visual diff tools


1. JMeld

  • Implement directory diff.
  • Right/Left side readonly (preference)
  • Ask save settings when closing settings-tab.
  • Allow multiple selections in FolderDiffPanel.
  • Rescan action in FolderDiffPanel.
  • Statusbar should have a bar which tells how far the diff is.
  • Exclude filters. (Create preferences and store with jaxb)
  • Ignore whitespace in diff.
  • Use newest swingx library (JTableTree has changed significantly)
  • Click in JTreeTable is forgotten if it is outside length of node-label
  • Save-as, Load buttons in settings panel disappear when frame is made smaller.

project on

2. WinMerge

WinMerge is an Open Source differencing and merging tool for Windows. WinMerge can compare both folders and files, presenting differences in a visual text format that is easy to understand and handle.

WinMerge is highly useful for determining what has changed between project versions, and then merging changes between versions. WinMerge can be used as an external differencing/merging tool or as a standalone application.


In addition, WinMerge has many helpful supporting features that make comparing, synchronising, and merging as easy and useful as possible:

  • General
    • Supports Microsoft Windows 98/2000/XP/2003/Vista/2008
    • Handles Windows, Unix and Mac text file formats
    • Unicode support
    • Tabbed interface
  • File Compare
    • Visual differencing and merging of text files
    • Flexible editor with syntax highlighting, line numbers and word-wrap
    • Highlights differences inside lines
    • Difference pane shows current difference in two vertical panes
    • Location pane shows map of files compared
    • Moved lines detection
  • Folder Compare
    • Regular Expression based file filters allow excluding and including items
    • Fast compare using file sizes and dates
    • Compares one folder or includes all subfolders
    • Can show folder compare results in a tree-style view
  • Version Control
    • Creates patch files (Normal-, Context- and Unified formats)
    • Resolve conflict files
    • Rudimentary Visual SourceSafe and Rational ClearCase integration
  • Other
    • Shell Integration (supports 64-bit Windows versions)
    • Archive file support using 7-Zip
    • Plugin support
    • Localizable interface
    • Online manual and installed HTML Help manual


3. Meld

Meld is a visual diff and merge tool. You can compare two or three files and edit them in place (diffs update dynamically). You can compare two or three folders and launch file comparisons. You can browse and view a working copy from popular version control systems such such as CVS, Subversion, Bazaar-ng and Mercurial. Look at the screenshots page for more detailed features.

4. rgdiff

The RGDiff project parses the output from a standard command line Diff program and presents the results in a graphical manner. It re-uses the GNU Diff program by “shelling out” using the WIN32 CreateProcess() function.

The techniques used could easily be incorporated into other programs requiring Diff functionality.

This article explains how the above is done in more detail.


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