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Changes — FileMerge Replacement

Changes Application Icon

Ian Baird recently released Changes which is an application to show differences between two folders and merge these intelligently.

I know this is not an uncommon task among many TextMate users, as I have received quite a lot of requests for building such functionality — Changes of course has TextMate integration, so this application will hopefully satisfy a lot of you.

Version 1.0 of Changes is available for $39.95 (free trial) but if you use TEXTMATE0308 as coupon code you can get it for $29.95 (offer lasts throughout March 2008).

categories General


FileMerge can compare files and directories, it can merge automatically (based on ancestors) and interactively, you can start it from the command-line and integrate with SVN, and it’s free. Why would you want to pay $40 (sorry, $30) for Changes?

DiffMerge is free as well.

I think it was the full integration.. I just went to their website and it says they support doing merges from within textmate. I have no idea how it is supposed to work though.

I think it was the full integration.. I just went to their website and it says they support doing merges from within textmate. I have no idea how it is supposed to work though.

It’s actually pretty simple. Ciaran Walsh created a bundle, included with the application, which lets you compare:

  • Document / Selection with Clipboard
  • Document with Saved Copy
  • Document with Arbitrary File…
  • Selected Files in Project Drawer

The bundle also supports basic subversion diff functionality. To install the bundle, use the Changes -> Install TextMate Support… menu item from within the application.

FileMerge can compare files and directories, it can merge automatically (based on ancestors) and interactively, you can start it from the command-line and integrate with SVN, and it’s ?free. Why would you want to pay $40 (sorry, $30) for Changes?

FileMerge is a great app, but it’s beginning to show its age. It uses the older diff algorithm, which while good is susceptible to being confused by repeated non-unique lines. FileMerge also does not allow inline editing and there’s no good way to collapse diff blocks to see context.

As of yet, Changes doesn’t support the use of an ancestor file for automatic merging. This is planned for a future version.

DiffMerge is free as well.

DiffMerge is another excellent app, if you like cross-platform apps whose documentation and user interface were obviously not made to fit in to the OS X environment.

Again, I’m pretty sure that it also uses the older version of the diff algorithm, so much like FileMerge, it could give unsatisfactory results for files containing repeated non-unique lines. While it does allow the user to collapse diff blocks with context, it does not allow inline editing in this mode, as Changes does.

Do we really need this discussion: why would someone buy/sell an app when there are free alternatives? I personally like supporting indie mac developers and $30 (or 20 Euros for me) is certainly not a premium for a handy tool like this. We did we all spend money on TM if there are some perfectly fine Editors like TextEdit, Emacs and vim out there? ;) Kudos to the Changes Developer, esp. for being so bold and making the background colour black.

Thank you Soryu for reminding us here in the US how the dollar keeps plummeting vs. the Euro … :-)

Does it - unlike FileMerge - support UTF-8? It’s not clear from the website but would be an important distinction.

Does it - unlike FileMerge - support UTF-8? It’s not clear from the website but would be an important distinction.

Yes, it supports UTF-8, MacRoman, ISO-88590-1 (Latin 1 and Windows), and UTF-16 (Big Endian and Little Endian).

Nice little app. Thanks very much for the discount code Allan!

29 February 2008

by Jon Larkowski

My favorite diff tool for both Mac and PC is Araxis Merge. It’s worth every penny. http://www.araxis.com/merge_mac/

My favorite diff tool for both Mac and PC is Araxis Merge. It’s worth every >penny. http://www.araxis.com/merge_mac/

It’s a lot of pennies though ($129) or (€119). If you want 3-way merge, you’ll have to shell out for the Pro version ($269) or (€219). All that said, it’s a nice app. Good to have choices.

02 March 2008

by Sarah Peeke

I would gladly purchase Changes because at present I have to open BBEdit just to use its file comparison capabilities - which is a real pain.

However, the system requirements for Changes are OSX 10.5 (Leopard), and so I assume it does not work on Tiger.

Looks like I’m back to square one! If only TM could integrate this handy feature :(

02 March 2008

by Hendrik

I briefly tried Changes for folder comparison and was very unimpressed. It didn’t seem possible to use regular expressions to ignore expanded RCS headers in files (which makes the folder comparison pretty much useless to me). And comparing a hierarchy of a few thousand files took forever.

So far I am very impressed with a program called DeltaWalker for this type of task. Despite being written in Java I found it to be blazingly fast and the folder compare UI is pretty great. However it doesn’t have any of the nice integration that Changes advertises (which I have not tried).

02 March 2008

by Zac Tolley

I merge code for a living at the moment, boring i know. I have to merge a core code with a local code so i do many 2 way and 3 way merges. The best tool i have ever found for this is named meld, a unix app that runs under X with some work… changes is a good app that I am going to use but if it did 3 way merges it would rock..

A great diff and 3-way merge tool available on MacOS X (10.3, 10.4, and 10.5), Windows, Linux, and Unix is Guiffy.

Guiffy’s diff tool and merge tool support integrations with command line interfaces. http://www.guiffy.com

24 March 2008

by Anonymous

Really seams fast. Some 3 minutes for our 25 LOC Rails project tree with 5800 files and 900MB. And Changes uses 58MB of real memory. I also like the interface. I’ll have to do more testing to decide wether to shell out 40 bucks for it, though. After all one almost gets legendary apps like TextMate for that ;) and Changes is a one-trick-pony.

24 March 2008

by Anonymous

thats 25k LOC, btw.

24 March 2008

by semioticmonkey

as stated elsewhere, in current state Changes don’t offers enough features to justify the price tag (c’mon, the textmate price for a barebone diff tool?!). i’m willing to pony up my money for, say, a cheaper version of Araxis Merge (the Ferrari of the diff tools not only a ‘nice’ application. have you ever use it? ok, its price is way too overpriced) with its feature set or a native Deltawalker version. Changes continue to ignore invisible files, for example and doesn’t offers an history of recent operations, CM operations, and so on and on. so, we are here waiting for something more useful of a filemerge remix with a bunch of more features. something like winmerge would be good enough. ahem, winmerge is free. until then, opendiff from the terminal and 40 bucks in my pocket. sorry.


You’re being a bit unfair here. Changes does not cost as much as TextMate and for the month of March - it was discounted by $10, a 25% discount. Changes “continues to ignore invisible files”? I’ve not seen a single bug report from you regarding this (please correct me if I’m wrong). Please, please, submit bugs to http://changesapp.com/support.php so I can fix them. You also need to become a bit better informed about the prices of the apps that you’re talking about.

@Bill Ritcher

Is Guiffy a native app yet? I looked at it when it was writing Changes, but the Java user-interface completely turned me off. I like the idea of your in-house diff algorithm - perhaps we’ll have to compare notes one of these days?


3-way diff is on the way in version 2.0, coming soon.


Changes is generally used to compare folders of a few thousand files, such as the linux source trees. It performs quite well in this case, but I’m always working to make it better. Please submit bugs at http://changesapp.com/support.php.

19 April 2008

by Dave Lee

This seems to be a good app for comparing the contents of two files but it does miserably when comparing directories, particularly hierarchies. It doesn’t have an “expand all” function so you’re clicking and scrolling a lot to see what changed insde the depths of your project. It also draws the file lists far too large with no apparent way to reduce, so you can’t see much. Not that you could anyway, because it truncates filenames even when there is lots of space to show them. It tries to be a flashy application without having a lot of substance. Besides the above, I would strongly suggest some finder integration. Having to open changes first and then drag files to it is a pain. Take a look at Beyond Compare’s explorer integration for an example. BC also costs very little - I bought a 10-user pack for my development team for $12 per seat. Been using it for years and I’ve never had to update it because it’s so well made and bug free.

28 April 2008

by semioticmonkey

@Ian Baird

I know the TM price. I’ve bought it :) And i have to check the real price not the limited time discounted price of a good to compare to competitors via price/quality ratio.

I didn’t filed a bug about the invisibile files matter cause….ahem, a diff application is supposed to open them (how i’m supposed to open a bunch of .#file0x.vm in a cvs repo? with TM i can. With Changes not. Enough said). It is, in my opinion, not a bug but a a lack of design vision. I don’t file a bug if an Image Editor doesn’t see an image file in a directory. I trash it.

And…btw i suggested this on Macupdate too first so who is here unfair? http://www.macupdate.com/info.php/id/26706/changes Anyway, stated the dev irritable nature, i believe i’ll continue to use term and opendiff or the good old eclipse with its ugly java GUI but its merits and price and a warm community.

ps. check the review above. BC is a strong application (or Ultra Compare). All these diff tools shows off how a good application can be made on the Mac too. Copy them, at least.

@all others Sorry for the (rant)post.

@idioticmonkey re: “the dev irritable nature”

huh?? He was pretty friendly. Especially considering your straight up lie about the price of his app: $40, last time I checked, is not the same as $60 (TextMate price). Not to mention your overall condescending language…

I’m so tired of reading “reviews” from people telling developers how much they should charge for their apps… Guess what? It’s none of your freaking business… Maybe people who can’t “pony up” $40 measly dollars are not his target market in the first place…

07 May 2008

by semioticmonkey

@Wack tnx for the ‘idiotic’ nick but I’m a monkey and i’m idiot by nature (so they says).

Care to reason about my ‘condescending’ (?) language?

Keep yourself in agreement with yourself. 40$ is a measly number and 17€ (the difference between the master of all text editors and changes) is a pretty penny? I repeat myself. I know the difference but, in my opinion, TM offers so much more in its own niche than changes in its own niche. Making a proportion, Changes costs much more than TM for what it offers, now (and i strongly believe the dev, with time and work, will have a very good application). I pony up what i can for what is worth (if you read better my opinion i’m looking at Araxis. Not the cheaper option out there). If you like to spend your money at coffe house for a glass full of nothing, you can. It is your money, after all, but don’t judge who don’t drink your nothing and prefers a god old beer as an alien.

I’m not telling the dev which is the price to charge. I’m saying MY [<< look!] opinion about the value/price ratio. That’all. I’m not entitled to express my opinion? You don’t have clients or likely clients which have the right to express theirs opinion about your price? Are we still in a free market? You offer your good, I decide if your good is good enough for me to spend my money on. If you don’t want to be subject to the market, go sell your good on the moon. There is no competition there, until now. Have more respect for the customer, Wack. He puts your food on your table every day of your life.

Good luck for your business.

Just checked out Changes. Definitely an excellent file comparison app. At first, I couldn’t see the benefits, but the simple, live editing blows FileMerge away.

For me working easily with textmate is a top selling point, but I probably wont upgrade to leopard till I get a new mac, from a business point of view installing a new operating system is a huge potential risk when you only have one mac. So I for one would be willing to pay more for changes if I could get a version that works on tiger, leopard and even vista/xp.

Cheers Justin

BBEdit’s ‘Compare Two Front Documents’ functionality is what I would say so many people would find useful.

The UI implementation is simple and to the point.

I don’t want to have to buy BBEdit just for that function.

One mac friendly free solution is TextWrangler from the makers of BBEdit. Simple and it just works, check it out, install the app, then command line tools



10 April 2009

by Werner

Well so far it looks like a nice app. But it was not enough for me. I settled down for now for DeltaWalker which does the jobs I need. Which is 3 way compare/merge and diffing/merging directories over ssh/sftp drives.

Anyway I will reevalute it once 2.0 is out. It looks good but lacks but it has potential!