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Comparison of Two “Silent Runners” Output Files

As of release 64, the “Silent Runners” output file is in Unicode format. The two freeware utilities cited below are not compatible with Unicode. To use them, the output files first need to be converted to ANSI format. This is easy to do in any Windows version since Windows 95. Double-click the output file to load it either into Notepad (which will launch by default in any Windows version as of NT 4.0) or Wordpad (which will open due to Notepad file size constraints in Windows 98 & Millennium). Then, under “File | Save as…”, choose “Text Document” and, if it’s offered, select “ANSI” in the Encoding drop-down box. (In Windows NT 4.0, you’ll need to uncheck the “Save as Unicode” checkbox.)

Alternatively, many commercial file-comparison utilities directly support Unicode-format text files. This Wikipedia article has a good list.

Sticking with freeware, once the files have been converted to ANSI format, two tools are recommended to compare them:

  1. PrestoSoft's ExamDiff, or …

  2. Microsoft's WinDiff.exe along with a companion freeware program, RunWinDiff.exe, that simplifies file selection.

    There are a number of ways to obtain WinDiff:

    1. Find a Windows XP or Windows 2000 installation CD and navigate to the SUPPORT.CAB file in the “\support\tools” directory. Using WinZip, extract gutils.dll, windiff.exe and windiff.hlp to the same directory.

    2. Find a Windows 98 CD – the three files are in the “\tools\reskit\file” directory.

    3. Download the Windows NT 4.0 Resource Kit Support Tools:

      • Extract sp4rkx86.cab from the self-extracting zip file and then extract the following three files from the .CAB file:


      • For each of the three above files, remove the characters “STORMGMT_FILETOOL_” from the filename and place the three files in the same directory.

    4. Finally, download Chris Maunder's “RunWinDiff”, a convenient GUI “front end”, extract the executable and launch it. Enter the location of WinDiff.exe in the “WinDiff location:” field.

To compare two files:

  • Start ExamDiff or RunWinDiff.

  • Note that there are fields for two filenames, which will be called the top and bottom files.

  • Drag and drop the files to compare onto the fields in the ExamDiff or RunWinDiff window or …

  • Use the “Browse” (ExamDiff) or “Select Files” (RunWinDiff) buttons directly to the right of the top and bottom filename fields.

  • For ExamDiff, press the “OK” button on the bottom; for RunWinDiff, press the “Compare Files” button in the upper right-hand corner.

  • For ExamDiff:

    • The two files are shown side by side. The top file is on the left. A legend is at the bottom.

    • Each difference is selectable in the drop-down list above the file display.

    • Use the mouse scroll wheel or Ctrl-N to move from one difference to the next.

  • For WinDiff:

    • Lines found only in the top file are shown on a red background.

    • Lines found only in the bottom file are shown on a yellow background.

    • Lines common to both files are shown on a white background.

    • To skip from one difference to the next, press F8. Press F7 to go back.

Copyright 2013 by Andrew Aronoff