|Diff Doc and WordDocDiff
It can be difficult to find the right redlining utility for Microsoft Word files at a decent price. LexisNexis’ CompareRite is no longer available, and Workshare DeltaView, which is excellent, is expensive. Word’s built-in “Compare Documents” feature is a poor substitute for CompareRite or Workshare DeltaView, and in many cases just doesn’t work. On the other hand, Word’s “Track Changes” feature is good, but the lawyers on both sides of a transaction must use it to be effective. So, where do you turn?
Diff Doc and WordDocDiff from Softinterface Inc., (sold as a bundle in two versions: Standard and Professional) are less expensive alternatives to Workshare DeltaView for comparing Word files. Both programs operate in essentially the same way, although WordDocDiff is faster. However, WordDocDiff doesn’t retain any text formatting from the compared files, which might make it less useful for law firms.
The Professional version includes filters for Word and other files missing from the Standard version, which appears to be limited to simple text file comparisons. As far as I can tell, there is no reason to even consider the Standard version in a law office.
Although neither program retains formatting as extensively as Workshare DeltaView, they both provide an accurate redline comparison of two Word documents. In addition, they can compare the differences between two file folders as well as locate text within file documents. At times, you might need to figure out if your backup folder has the same files as your main folder, so the file folder comparison utility might come in handy.
Both programs work with Microsoft Excel, Portable Document Format, Corel WordPerfect and other file types not available in Workshare DeltaView. I will focus this review on using the two programs with Word because the current versions of WordPerfect already have a great built-in document comparison utility. I found the Excel comparison extremely useful in one situation where I needed to compare the differences between two Excel files containing different settlement offers. You also can compare different file types to get one compared file (good for offices exchanging Word and WordPerfect files).
The Diff Doc interface is similar to Workshare DeltaView’s file display: you open your original file in the upper left window pane, the revised file in the upper right window pane, and the compared file appears in the bottom window pane.
There are various options for configuring the comparisons, such as file type, colors for compared text and printed report options. There also is a command interface that allows Diff Doc to interface with Worldox.
WordDocDiff opens to a blank screen and you click “Compare Files” to display a dialog to type in the filenames for your original and revised files. The comparison is then displayed on screen or printed to a report. However, the on-screen display is virtually worthless as entire paragraphs are flagged in red. You will need to send the report to the HTML report format to view a more accurate comparison.
I tried both programs using several long leases and a purchase contract, and found the comparisons to be accurate, although I was confused at times by the display of “changed text.” Rather than flagging additions, deletions and moves like CompareRite or Workshare DeltaView, the two programs separate text that has been changed from additions and deletions and displays the changed text in a different color.
There also are several other significant differences between the two programs and Workshare DeltaView. For example, Diff Doc takes longer to run a comparison, but not oppressively longer. WordDocDiff is as fast as Workshare DeltaView, but then it doesn’t have to worry about formatting. Neither program handles Word tables well. Workshare DeltaView easily can flag and highlight the differences between Word tables. WordDocDiff loses Word table formatting, although both programs will compare the text within tables. However, Diff Doc displays compared table text as underlined.
While WordDocDiff doesn’t retain formatting, in some ways I liked its HTML report format better than the Diff Doc report in Word. It seems cleaner and more professional. Text is displayed in a table with numbered rows, making changes easy to find. The Diff Doc compared file format does retain some text formatting, but it pales in comparison to CompareRite or Workshare DeltaView. If I am not going to get full formatting in a comparison, I would like to see a completely different type of comparison report than one that doesn’t measure up to Workshare DeltaView.
Diff Doc and WordDocDiff are useful tools for comparing two Word files. However, if you still have or can find CompareRite, or can afford Workshare DeltaView, I don’t see any reason to switch. If you don’t already have a third-party comparison utility, it’s worth taking a look at both of these programs. A 30-day demo of each program is available on the company’s Web site.
$149.95 for single Standard license; $399.95 for single Professional
license. Contact company for other pricing options. A 10 percent discount on
Diff Doc is being offered for LOC readers at www.softinterface.com/
Aug/Sep '03 Issue