ApexSQL Compare 2018 – Screen shot tour

ApexSQL Compare provides the ability to compare files and folders of your choosing. Although it can compare a variety of script languages and also compare file folders, ApexSQL Compare is tightly coupled with SQL Server, SQL Server Management Studio, and Visual Studio. It is a free product, so you just need to download it and you are ready to go.

Once the application is downloaded, installed and run we are greeted with the New project window where we can choose between Files or Folders comparison types:

If we select the Files comparison, in the Data sources tab we can select files or database objects that we want to compare:

In Options tab, we have a choice of three Comparison modes (Character, Line, and Block) and various Ignore options if we want to exclude different specific parts from the comparison:

After setting selecting the desired options and loading the files we want to compare, clicking on the Compare button we are shown the comparison results of the selected files:

The Merge view is not shown by default, but when selected via the Merge button in the Home tab, under the Actions group, it allows us to merge checked differences from the left and/or right side:

Merge script can be created by:

  • Employing only differences from the left side
  • Employing only differences for the right side
  • Employing differences from the left and the right side
  • Employing combination of the differences from the left and the right side

Copy/Save buttons are located on the on the top-right corner of the Merge view panel which are used for to copy/paste the resulting merge script:

The Status bar is located below the Merge view panel, and provides relevant information regarding the number of Missing/Different/Additional/Equal rows.

If the Character comparison mode is selected in the Options tab when we click on the Edit button, different rows of compared files/SQL objects are highlighted, and also the differences on character level according to a corresponding color. This makes the information much easier to see:

When we choose Files comparison type, above the files/SQL objects panels that we are comparing, we have three different tabs. Starting from the Home tab, which consists of the following:

  • New creates a new project
  • Open opens an existing project
  • Edit allows us to edit an existing project
  • Save saves the current project with options to Save as or Save as batch
  • Merge shows/hides the Merge view panel that allows us to create merge script
  • Export allows exporting of comparison differences to a HTML report
  • Swap swaps the places of left and right compared file/SQL object
  • Previous/Next is used to go to the previous/next difference
  • Check all left will check all different lines on the left-side panel
  • Check all right will check all different lines on the right-side panel
  • Uncheck all will uncheck all left and right different lines, allowing us to check individual left/right differences
  • Refresh is used to refresh compared files/SQL objects, so if any changes are made on the original files/objects it will be instantly shown
  • Options opens the Options window where we can access various application options

After the Home tab, we have the View tab, with some useful options like:

Also below the Merge view panel, we can see the Find panel, which allows us to search in all of the panels:

When clicking the right mouse button to any of the panels the drop-down menu appears that consists of:

  • Find which shows/hides the find panel for further search
  • Increase/Decrease/Reset font size buttons increase/decrease/reset font size in all panels
  • Word wrap button will wrap loaded file/SQL object to fit the comparison window
  • Difference highlights opens its window and allows quick customization of colors for difference highlighting:

If we select the Folders comparison type in the New project window, we can select folders that we want to compare:

When clicking on Edit button and selecting Options tab we have a choice of several different Comparison options, which when selected, filter the folder content shown when doing comparison:

Once the desired folders that we want to compare are selected, along with options for different comparison filtering, we can proceed by clicking the Compare button. The resulting comparison results are as shown:

Below the compared folders panels, we have the Status bar, which provides us with the useful information regarding the number of Missing/Different/Additional/Equal files.

The Folders comparison type has its set of tabs (note that Folders comparison type tabs have different action buttons from the File comparison type tabs), starting from the Home tab:

  • Copy right will copy selected file(s) from left to right folder
  • Copy left will copy selected file(s) from right to left folder
  • Sync left will synchronize all files from right to left folder
  • Sync right will synchronize all files from right to left folder
  • Export which export comparison differences
  • Swap that swaps contents form right/left to the left/right panel
  • Previous moves to the previous difference
  • Next moves to the next difference
  • Refresh which refreshes comparison panels if something in the files/folders is changed

In the View tab, we have the following action buttons:

  • Find button in the View tab opens the Find panel, which we can use to search in the individual panels:

  • Center will center the left and right panels
  • Auto size will auto size grid columns
  • Fit to screen will fit grid columns to screen
  • Difference highlights will show the difference highlights options (Different/Additional/Missing
  • Different files will show different files only

ApexSQL Compare offers various options that can be set to make the comparison easier and more efficient. All relevant options can be found in the Home tab by clicking on the Options button. The Options window opens up, and we have the General tab and several options that we can check:

  1. What startup action we want our application to take (Show new project, Show last opened project or none of the above)
  2. Setting up the maximum items shown in the recent files list:

  3. Turning on the Word wrap which wraps the text in the comparison window
  4. Changing the colors for the Difference highlights (Different/Missing/Additional)
  5. Choosing between light/blue/dark theme:

In the File tab, we can select between Character, Line or Block comparison mode. In addition, we can set the Ignore options so we can ensure that certain parts of the script don’t get included in the comparison:

In the Folder tab, we can set Comparison options, where we can find and check which files we want to include or exclude from the comparison process:

In the Output tab, File locations and templates in addition with the Optional output elements and Encoding can be found:

In the Shortcuts tab, we can check different customized shortcuts that we want to use:

ApexSQL Compare offers full Visual Studio and SQL Server Management Studio integration, which once installed, adds the additional option called ApexSQL in the navigation bar of SSMS:

A new file comparison can be launched with the click on the New comparison command, which can be found in the ApexSQL Compare’s main menu. Once started we just need to choose the files/folders we want by clicking on the Browse button on the upper-right side of both panels:

A useful feature of ApexSQL Compare is that it can compare SQL Server objects just by right clicking on an object in the Object Explorer → Compare scripts → Set as left/right:

As it is for the ApexSQL Compare standalone application, by default the Merge view panel is not visible and we must click on the Merge view from ApexSQL Compare main menu, or the button on the top of the comparison window, so we could see the merge script:

ApexSQL Compare Add-in has all the options for comparing files/folders implemented as its standalone application counterpart.

December 20, 2017