The Usefulness of Excel Diff Utilities

Mar 13 08:48 2009 Sam Miller Print This Article

Spreadsheets form such a big part of modern business data processing solutions. It is often necessary to track changes between files. Excel diff utilities can prove to be invaluable assets.

Spreadsheet software,Guest Posting such as Excel (among others), have become quite ubiquitous or widespread, finding use in almost any organizational task. They are helpful for many tasks involving working with data, from data entry to tabulation to processing to display. The tables and sheets produced using such software will vary in size and complexity, from simple two column tables to huge arrays of information spanning many worksheets and files. The difficulty involved in maintaining large collections of data and spreadsheets can increase as size increases. The use of Excel diff and compare utilities is one way to reduce the labor involved in such tasks.

Difference or diff utilities, as their name implies, are helper applications whose function is to find and display the differences between two files. They can be used, for example, to compare two text files or documents, to see what has changed from one version to the next. Hence, they can be used to track changes in a document or documents, which will be especially useful used in conjunction with those editors that have no built-in change tracking. Apart from adding this function, these utilities also make it much easier to spot the changes between two files that contain a lot of information.

For example, comparing two large spreadsheets by manual inspection, as you can imagine, would take quite a long time. Who would not lose patience poring through row upon row of numerical data, looking for those few entries that have changed from one table to another? Then imagine this process repeated for every pair of spreadsheets in a collection, or for different pairs of tables and charts containing entirely different data.

With the use of these difference applications, such tedium and labor is virtually eliminated. By simply plugging the two files under consideration into the application, automatic computer aided processing would be able to find differences and highlight them. This aids greatly in human identification of such changes. This helper software will truly prove to be a godsend to people who have to work with Excel files and other spreadsheets for a living, increasing their efficiency and decreasing meaningless labor, letting them spot the difference in a jiffy.

Not only that, but some of these helpers would even allow the automation of multiple jobs using a scripting language. That is, many batches of comparison can be lined up and performed automatically. This would mean that you could set the program to go through hundreds or even thousands of spreadsheets to be compared, without needing human intervention. You could even specify what changes to make depending on what kind of differences are found by the program, in effect doing a conditional replace or edit.

These Excel diff programs are truly invaluable tools for working with large Excel files and other spreadsheets in large numbers. Although the more sophisticated and complicated ones may have a learning curve, in many cases, it would ultimately be worth it to take some time to learn and get used to these software solutions.

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Sam Miller
Sam Miller

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