My home on the web - featuring my real-life persona!

Cool Tool - ExamDiff Pro

Yeah, I am still alive but barely and I believe my brain is quite worn out. We had released several new products and launched a separate website specifically for the photo market (

I also designed a webpage (, I turned 40, we took a few short trips during the summer and we just had nice weather so I rather stay outside.

During one of my projects I had to send out Word documents for review. I told everyone to please turn on “Tracking” in Word and correct the files so I can update my translation memories. These were long (70 pages), big (60 MB) documents with a lot of formatting, grouped elements and images.

Unfortunately, people either don’t like or are not familiar with the tracking function (and are afraid to ask), so I got a variety of documents back, each markked up in a creative way - or not at all.

Now, I know that Word has a Compare function, but I have never been happy with the results. The view is very messy, it highlights ever little “font hiccup” and some ominous language changes and I’d say it is not usable in general.

Fortunately, I remember the little compare tool I use for XML files, it is called ExamDiff and I wondered what it would do with a binary format like a Word document. Well, it handles them like a champ! I have created a doc with a partial Microsoft EULA and changed a copy. ExamDiff shows both documents in a window split vertically or horizontally, highlighting the lines that changed and marking the particular change.

But for me the best was the report function. Since I had to communicate all the changes back to my Italian translator, this was very important. ExamDiff created an HTML document (other formats are also available) that basically looked exactly like the comparison I saw in the application window. It had a little legend that explains what the colors mean and I was able to just send this document to my translator who was easily able to update his translation memory with these changes. Report generated by ExamDiff

Maybe there are a lot of tools like this out there, but ExamDiff has always been wonderful when comparing XML files or source code with 10,000+ lines of code, but until now I was not aware that it can do other files.
Now, as for versions, we are using the older version ExamDiff Pro 3.5. The new version 4.5 costs $35 and is available at PrestoSoft


5 Responses to “Cool Tool - ExamDiff Pro”

  1. Sarah Dillon on September 17th, 2009

    Great tip, thanks Susanne. Think I’ll give it a whirl, I can think of a couple of contexts in which it would be useful.

  2. Kevin Lossner on September 17th, 2009

    Welcome back, Susanne. This looks very useful. I use MS Word’s compare function rather often, but it sometimes drives me nuts for the very reasons you cite.

  3. Susanne Aldridge III on September 18th, 2009

    Yes, this is one of the examples of not using your tools too the fullest extend! I have ExamDiff since 3 years but never assumed it could do anything but flat file formats but apparently it also does Excel, zip archives, PDF (probably only non-graphic) and PPT, though I never tried those.

  4. Kim on September 19th, 2009

    I often send projects out for review too, I normally turn on track changes before I send the files, in case the recipient doesn’t know how to do it.

  5. Béranger on February 10th, 2010 is free, open-source and does the same task!

Leave a Reply