If you don’t own a copy of Beyond Compare, run right now to your corner vendor and buy it.
There are a few pieces of software I use that truly make my life as a developer better, and Beyond Compare is one of them. Forget the Web 2.0 hype (more on that subject at another time), here’s what floats my boat in software:
1. It addresses a real problem. Beyond Compare lets you compare two files and see how they differ, if they differ. It works far better than any internal comparison features of source control.
2. It’s stable. I’m sure it’s got bugs, all software does, but I haven’t found any.
3. It’s elegant. I once had the good fortune to own a Toyota Camry. The car was so amazingly right that if I put my hand out to adjust the radio, the radio just was there. If I wanted to adjust the air conditioning, again, no fumbling, no having to glance at the console. Beyond Compare is like it. If I wonder how I do something, the first place I look gives me the answer.
4. It does more than I expect, but not so much it’s overloaded. I can so easily copy changes from one file or the other. Plus, it intelligently knows when I’ve made changes to the file in a different window, and gives me the opportunity to update the file on view.
5. It’s very affordable. I’m an independent consultant, and I work at a very modest rate, so $300.00 here and $500.00 there for utilities puts a lot of software I’d like to use out of reach. So, I appreciate Beyond Compare’s modest price of 30 bucks USD.
I like using software that challenges me to make software as wonderful.