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How to find similarities between lists by using ExamDiff Pros plug-in feature

Tutorial Description: If you ever want to compare different lists for similarity, ExamDiff Pro has a powerful plug-in system that enables you to sort and effectively compare lists. This is how you can do it.

Video tutorial View video demonstration

Example: You will be comparing the July 5, 2004 versions of Yahoo's all-time U.S. box office hits list and the IMDB top 100 (IMDB lists top 250 movies; you'll need to grab the top 100). For your convenience, the lists have already been created for this tutorial: download imdb_top100.txt into a new file named imdb_top100.txt, and boxoffice_top100.txt -- into a new file named boxoffice_top100.txt.

Steps:

  1. Open ExamDiff Pro and click on Options button. Go to the Plug-ins sub-menu. Click on New.... For Name write "Sort" (without the quotes), for Extensions -- "txt" (without the quotes), and for Application -- "c:\windows\system32\sort.exe" (without the quotes, your system location may be different). Click on the Select Arguments button ExamDiff Pro Arguments Button and click on Input File Path.

    ExamDiff Pro Options | Plug-ins dialog and New Plugin dialog

  2. Click on OK to add the plug-in, then click OK to leave the Options page. Then compare imdb_top100.txt to boxoffice_top100.txt.

    ExamDiff Pro Compare dialog, with our two files selected for comparison

  3. Voila! The two files are now alphabetically sorted, making it easy for you to see which movies are on both lists.

    ExamDiff Pro main window, with our two files being compared using our Sort plug-in

  4. If you want to only see the movies that are on both lists, go to View | Options menu command, select Display | View Filter, uncheck all checkboxes under File Comparison Filter, and check View Identical Segments. Click OK to leave the Options dialog.

    ExamDiff Pro Options dialog, Display | View Filter tab

  5. Select View | Use View Filter command (or press Ctrl + D key). Now only movies common to both lists are displayed.

    ExamDiff Pro main window, with our two files being compared with both our Sort plug-in and a view filter

Conclusion: Amazingly enough, only 10 movies match. This is proof that money isn't everything. (Either way, the IMDB has strange tastes.)

On a serious note, this example shows that ExamDiff Pro plug-ins can be used to massage input files so that results of comparison become more meaningful.