Mario Rizzi Macworld Italy

DeltaWalker 1.8

By Mario Rizzi, Macworld Italy, August 2008

It's not an uncommon situation: we have a folder that contains several subfolders and each of them contains other files. In total we have thousands of files. Moreover, we might have a version on our main Mac drive and another on a backup disk, or on a CD. We want to extract from the folder the files modified or created on a certain date. There is a procedure that is very simple, yet very long: open each folder and list its files according to their “Date modified”, then go through that list and find the files we need. Or we could be clever and use DeltaWalker.

The Needle in the Hay Stack

DeltaWalker is an application that is truly indispensable in situations like the one just described. It allows you to compare two text files and highlights the differences between them in a simple and quick way. It also allows you to compare two different folders and find out the files that were added and do so independently of the number of files or subfolders they contain. Let's see how it all works.

The first positive surprise awaits us upon launching the application: Deltopia, the software company that created DeltaWalker, has developed the application to run on Mac, Linux, and Windows in a clever way. Given existing precedents, we expected to find an unattractive, to say the least, user interface if not unfriendly. DeltaWalker however is different and while its looks may not be exactly the one we typically associate with Mac software, it is pleasant and very functional.

It was time to take DeltaWalker for a test-drive and to do so we decided to compare two different folders – one on a hard drive and one on an FTP server. Selecting folders is easy and can be done either by browsing or by drag and drop. With regards to the FTP folder you simply specify the server name, username and password. Once you've selected the folders you click the Compare button and the comparison is underway. In our case, the compared folders contained files related to a website and it was easy to see at a glance the files that had been modified between the two versions.

Next we tried comparing two text files – two different versions of a CSS file. The differences were clearly highlighted and merging them was few mouse clicks away. When the cursor is over a difference area DeltaWalker would show an arrow pointing towards the corresponding difference in the other file. Click – and DeltaWalker inserts that difference into the other document. We also used File > Create Report to generate a report in XML or HTML format containing the detected differences as well as the options used during comparison.

The Ace in the Hole

One of DeltaWalker's best features perhaps is what developers refer to as three-way comparison. In three-way comparison the "ancestor", typically the oldest file or folder, is placed between the two more recent versions. This makes it easy to see and understand the differences between those files or folders relative to their common ancestor, as well as the differences between the files or folders themselves. A very useful feature when you need to see changes made by two different contributors to a common file and then merge them by selectively choosing from both sets of changes.

Unfortunately version 1.8.0 does not offer saving of work sessions, so one needs to manually reload files or folders compared in previous sessions.

Pros: Speed and user friendliness, functional user interface.

Cons: Not possible to save a work session

Macworld's score: 8/10