ExamDiff Pro Advanced Tutorial #3

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How to use manual synchronization

Tutorial Description: No matter how smart a comparison algorithm is, it sometimes has to be "helped out" by a human. This tutorial describes how to use ExamDiff Pro's manual synchronization feature to realign lines in text file comparison.

Video Demonstration

Example: You will be using two code snippets that have been formatted for this tutorial: download _man_sync2a.txt and _man_sync2b.txt.


  1. Open ExamDiff Pro and compare _man_sync2a.txt to _man_sync2b.txt.

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

  2. Uh oh! The majority of lines appear to be completely different, even though some lines are very similar but not aligned. The reason for this is that because the similar lines are not completely identical, they are not automatically matched by ExamDiff Pro. To match these lines, we can use manual synchronization.

    ExamDiff Pro main window, showing the problem we obtain by comparing our two files

  3. To enable manual synchronization, click on the Synchronizing Splitter button ExamDiff Pro Synchronizing Splitter Button (or go to View | Synchronizing Splitter). The center splitter is now enlarged, enabling you to form links across it.

    ExamDiff Pro main window, showing the synchronizing splitter

  4. Let's match line 6 in _man_sync2a.txt to line 7 in _man_sync2b.txt. Click on the left side of the splitter at line 7, hold and drag to the right side of the splitter at line 6 and release. Note that the top parts of the files now look much nicer.

    ExamDiff Pro main window, with the first link being formed   ExamDiff Pro main window, after the first link was formed

  5. Now let's do the same for line 10 in _man_sync2a.txt and line 10 in _man_sync2b.txt. Now the differences between the two files are much easier to see!

    ExamDiff Pro main window, with the second link being formed   ExamDiff Pro main window, after the second link was formed

  6. To delete a manual link, simply right-click on it and select Delete Link in the context menu. To delete all manual links, right-click on one and select Delete All Links in the context menu. Now the files are back to the state they were in before we added manual links.

    ExamDiff Pro main window, after all links have been deleted

Conclusion: If automatic comparison does not match two files perfectly, ExamDiff Pro's manual synchronization offers a powerful and intuitive way to realign lines in files. You can see Manual Synchronization Help for more information about manual synchronization in ExamDiff Pro and Context Menus Help for an explanation of all the options available in the synchronizing splitter context menu.