Compare tool

I am currently using WinMerge, but I see that many developers are using different tools, especially “Beyond Compare” seems to be popular.

I would appreciate any “100 words or less” quick round ups of the compare/merge tools you use, and the pros for using it to upgrade Navision objects.

For me the biggest feature I am missing, is some way of having a small window or Field at the top of the screen that tells me which Object I am currently in, and the line number on that objects. Obviously I could split the text file into individual objects, but that would be insane, I want all objects in one file.

Second thing that would be nice would be a “Find Pattern” tools, so for instand if I have 10 new fields inserted into 37, then it shows me the same modification in 111, 113,115, and that return one that I can never remember.

I use it because its what I use, but wouldn’t recommend it (thus this thread, its time to change).


  • Fast and simple.
  • Quite easy to find the next change.
  • Merging is easy.


  • You never know which object you are currently editing or merging, so you need to scroll up and find the object header and then scroll back again.
  • The edititor is not at all good, so any changes to the merge need to be done in another editor.
  • There are only two screens, so when you really need 1/ Original Base version 2/ Modified Current system 3/ New Upgraded Version. You tend to have 1 and 2 in WinMerge, and 3 in a text editor and using copy paste all the time.

I also use Beyond Compare. it is by far the quickest way to merge to databases/objects.

If you want to add navision logic to your compare you realy need to have a look at the development toolkit. This also compares objects but shows it navision style with fields, variables etc.

Just adding another limitation:

No general “overview” of the comparison result between the two files, you cannot get a general idea of how many differences you are actually having (at least in the version I knew a couple of months back).

Currently I am using Compare It (


  • Simple to use, simple interface
  • Has a special column at the left side, showing the differences in different colours, gives an overview of how much these 2 files differ, and how much you are still missing to review.
  • Text is easily moved and copied from one file to the other
  • Text can be directly edited in these 2 windows
  • At least up to version 3.1… free.


  • Does not handle a “merged” version
  • Merge with deleted and non-existing lines needs some time to get used to it.


This is one of the “must have’s” for me, one of rthe reason’s I don’t like WinMerge.

Yes I never thought about it, but that would be a good feature to have.

Nils, thanks for the reply.

Anyone else?

Here are some tools that I was able to find that can compare three files or folders at the same time, in no particular order(I searched Google for compare “three files”):

  • UltraCompare($29.95)
  • Guiffy($75). See screenshot.
  • Araxis Merge($269)
  • KDiff3(Free, open source) In the download page, look in the last column for “.exe (32-bit Windows)”, or click here to choose a mirror to download the latest release at the time of this post.

Make a backup before working on any of these tools, just in case you make a mistake…

I use a tool that comes with Total Commander. Simple text to text files comparation for quick review.
In my firm, we are using microsoft VSS and keeping track of changes of an object so, we are using a compare tool from within VSS, but that’s not exactly kind of compare tool that we are talking about here.
Btw. while we are talking about this, does export of more objects from navision to one txt file, orders that objects in same order allways? (crucial for text-to-text comparation… if order isn’t same you can’t compare it right).

I used to feel the same way, but since I moved to Beyond Compare I have changed my mind. What I do now is export all objects into one text file, and then I use the text file splitter (you can download it from mibuso here). With a click of a button you can split a big object file into files per object, and you control what they are called. It doesn’t like very long target pathnames, so use a temp folder on C.

Beyond Compare lets you compare folders, which I use all the time. All you need to do is split up the object files from two database into two folders, and it will give you a screen with all differences, from which you can then drill down into each individual file. The extra step to split up the big text file is really not all that much work, and I really like the clarity it gives me.

For instance, you don’t have to worry that you have the same objects in both files, because if BC doesn’t find a file of the same name in the other folder, you’ll see the file in one folder with an empty space in the other folder.

I’m not making much sense here :slight_smile: but you should really try it. You can download a trial version of Beyond Compare here. It says 30 day trial, but you get an extra 15 days. This is days of usage, not calendar days.

It does not have a 3 way compare thing, but it lets you modify files that compile in NAV. I had one issue once where NAV wouldn’t let me import a text file due to an object number dupe (a textbox that I had copied over had the same number as an existing one), and that was easily fixed.

I’ve used Codewright, Araxis and Winmerge, and Beyond Compare is head and shoulders above those programs. It addresses all the things that I am looking for in a compare tool, so I stopped looking and convinced my boss to get a site license (which gets really cheap).

Thanks Daniel, that’s exactly what I was trying to find out. You have convinced me, and I will give it a try.

Naji, thanks for the links, but I have google (sorry [;)] ) I really wanted first hand experience, but I do appreciate your effort in any case thanks.

Phenomenen, I have used VSS on Navision projects in the past, and definitely it has its place, but not for most projects. We once took over an NSC that used VSS for all their projects. After doing a lot of analysis on their work, we were able to show thatt hey had about a 40% overhead to maintan VSS with Navision, and this was going straight out as billed time to the clients. Where I found VSS great, was were you have at least 4 full time developers working on a large project for a few months, by definition that meant something with a minimum of 2,000 hours of pure programming. And of course its great for developing and maintaining Add-Ons, Vertical solutions, for Clients that have in house development, and for huge systems that can justify the additional cost. But for projects under $500,000 I don’t think it adds enough value to save money for the client. Of course if you have a team of very low cost developers that you don’t trust too much, then that’s another stroy all together.

Yes, VSS does creates some overhead, but here, not a that big one (40% is a huge overhead…).
We use it mainly cause we have a lot of post-implementation small customizations and we want to keep a track of changes on objects so than we have an information for us and client and a different developers can easily see and make other changes on them.
And, ofcourse, to prevent a mutual changes on same object in same time which can be a big problem in Navision development…
As for now we found it as a bigger help than a overhead and we are trying to not to use it in a complex way…

Yes the 40% was a huge overhead. That is not the overhead of importing objects to VSS< butthe total overhead that the documentation process was taking, but VSS was the biggest part of it. This particular company used VSS on every cleint on every minor change, it was just too much. I can’t see its value for smaller projects, but defintely it has its place in larger projects.

The one and only compare and merge tool is “Beyond Compare”.

This is my two cents:

We are the developer of a Navision Add-On and have to upgrade/update permanently objects from different people.
Beyond Compare enables us to localize the complete AddOn (80 changed standard objects + 350 own objects) within 4 hours.
This means to compare and merge the W1 AddOn version on one hand and the localized standard Navision on the other hand in a reasonable short time.

We did not make this in that short time with any other tool tested.

Hi Thomas, thanks.

Could you also add some of your esperiences in why it is good. It does seem though that it is the product of choice.

Has anybody experiences with a (free) tool which has 3-way-merge? I am still searching this.