Before I switched from Windows to a Mac I did a lot of research. One of the things I spent a considerable amount of time on was software. Could I find Mac equivalents for most, if not all, of my Windows software? I found that I could find a Mac equivalent for almost everything, save for a couple programs. One of those programs was a little file/folder comparison and sync utility called Beyond Compare. Believe it or not, this was almost a show-stopper for me because I literally use this program every day. I bought it back in 2005 for $30 and have been using it constantly ever since. I had been certain that a comparable program for the Mac would be easy to find but it just wasn’t. (I’ll refrain from using a bad “it must really be Beyond Compare” pun.)
So I compromised with a workaround; run Beyond Compare in a virtual machine and set all non-Windows local directories up as network shares. This works, but it means that I’m still dependent on opening Windows XP every time I need to sync directories. Every three months or so I’d check back again to see if Beyond Compare had been ported to the Mac or if a comparable competing product had been released. After a year and a half, I finally found that product.
It’s called DeltaWalker.
Funny enough, I’d evaluated this product more than a year ago but had written it off because it just wasn’t good enough yet. Well, a lot can change in a year and apparently these guys have been hard at work on this thing. DeltaWalker 1.8.7 is almosty what Beyond Compare 2.x is. That’s now close enough for me to pull the trigger and buy it. The biggest missing feature right now for me is the ability to save what are called “sessions” (a file or folder pair with syncing rules). It’s pseudo-implemented right now; sessions are automatically saved but you can’t name them. The next version, 1.8.8, is slated to have the ability to name sessions and set favorite sessions; that’ll bring this much closer to a 100% comparable BC 2.x replacement. [* Update: 4/7/2010 * Version 1.9 has been released and now offers the ability to save and name sessions, mark favorite sessions, and to import or export sessions. The Mac version now sports a new Cocoa interface which looks great and provides a true “Mac-like” experience. Session filters have been improved and simplified, making them very easy to create and maintain.] What’s also really cool is that DeltaWalker is cross-platform; there’s a Linux, Windows, and Mac version.
But there are also a few things about DeltaWalker that make it rise above when compared to Beyond Compare 2.x. DeltaWalker has sftp support; BC 2.x has only ftp support. DeltaWalker also has this really great feature that allows you to click on two files being compared in a folder comparison window and then will open a new window below showing a file diff. This makes it really easy to see the actual differences between the files, perfect for programmers.
There’s more than one way to skin a cat and more than one way to synchronize two folders or run file diffs. Beyond Compare was my preferred method and I found after doing some research that I’m not the only one who felt that way. There were lots of people looking for the same replacement as me. I understand that Beyond Compare 3.x has features that the 2.x version doesn’t have, but 3.x is only available for Windows and Linux. For a Mac user it’s the same as it not existing at all. Don’t get me wrong, I’d buy Beyond Compare for the Mac today if it existed. Fact is it doesn’t, and it doesn’t appear that it will any time soon. [With the new Cocoa UI, filter enhancements, and session saving I’d now choose DeltaWalker over Beyond Compare 3, even if BC3 were available on the Mac. As much as I like Beyond Compare, the fact is that Deltopia took the time to get there first.]
DeltaWalker (at the time of this writing) is around $40 for a personal license for a single platform (Linux, Windows, or Mac). A personal license for all three platforms runs around $75. Commercial pricing is higher.
So if you’ve switched to the Mac like me and haven’t been able to find a way to replace Beyond Compare, DeltaWalker is a worthy replacement.
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