File comparison techniques might sound new to most users, but these techniques were first used by source code developers who needed to closely inspect differences in two written codes. During the years, this technique found some other uses and today we’ve got several popular file comparison applications which are essential for any software, graphic, or web developer. This technology is also integrated with Microsoft Word and Apple’s Pages, where you track changes, which is very important tool for writers, primarily.
In today’s article we will be reviewing a popular application called Kaleidoscope 2, and we’ll explain how you can use it in your everyday computing, since this application can be put to a good use in numerous situations.
Once you open Kaleidoscope 2 for the first time, you’ll be greeted with “Getting Started” window which will show you four main features, which are: images, text, and folder comparison, as well as some integration features. There are several tutorials to get you started, and I recommend completing them in case this is your first time using an application like this.
As we said earlier, there are three comparison features available: image, text, and folder comparison. In case you’d like to compare two images, once you import them you will get to use several different views which are used to closely and simultaneously inspect two images. No matter what view you’re using, Kaleidoscope 2 will highlight changes so they will always be visible. You can compare images by placing them side-by-side, which is known as Two-up. One-up superimposes two images, and you can swap them instantly. Split view also superimposes images, but now you can use slider to uncover a piece of an image. Finally, Difference mode is used to inspect pixel-level differences.
Kaleidoscope is probably best known for its text comparison features. This means that you can compare two documents, which could be typed text or a software code, for example. There are actually many possible uses for this. Just like with images, you can inspect two pieces of text in several modes. Blocks is a mode which places two texts side-by-side and mark it with three colors. Green colored text is unique for right-positioned text, while red is for a unique text on the left side of the window. Purple is used to show a piece of text present in both files. Fluid mode is the same as Block, but it connects inspected pieces of texts in a bit more visual way. Unified mode shows two text files in the same pane.
Finally, you can use Kaleidoscope to inspect and compare two folders, or whole directories for example. This also can be very helpful in many situations, even for an average computer user.
Many professionals will be happy to know that Kaleidoscope integrates with many popular developer tools like Git, Mercurial, P4, Subversions, and others.
The only drawback I could find with this application is its price of $70. This really is a very helpful application and could be used by very serious professionals, but its price doesn’t make it highly competitive with other similar applications.
I would also like to mention that Kaleidoscope 2 could be purchased from the Mac App Store, but this will a bit enhanced version which limits integration with other developer tools, which is due to Apple’s Sandbox limitations. Still, if you purchase the Mac App Store version, you’re entitled to original version as well, which could be downloaded from the official Kaleidoscope’s website.