Compare local and remote files for differences

Dreamweaver can work with file comparison tools (also known as “diff tools”) to compare the code of local and remote versions of the same file, two different remote files, or two different local files. Comparing local and remote versions is useful if you’re working on a file locally and you suspect the copy of the file on the server has been modified by someone else. Without leaving Dreamweaver, you can view and merge the remote changes into your local version before putting the file to the server.

Comparing two local files or two remote files is also useful if you keep previous, renamed versions of your files. If you’ve forgotten the changes made to a file from a previous version, a quick comparison will remind you.

Before you start, you must install a third-party file comparison tool on your system. For more information on file comparison tools, use a web search engine such as Google Search to search for “file comparison” or “diff” tools. Dreamweaver works with most third-party tools.

Specify a comparison tool in Dreamweaver

  1. Install the file comparison tool on the same system as Dreamweaver.
  2. In Dreamweaver, open the Preferences dialog box by selecting Edit > Preferences (Windows) or Dreamweaver > Preferences (Macintosh), and then select the File Compare category.
  3. Do one of the following:
    • In Windows, click the Browse button and select the application that compares files.

    • On the Macintosh, click the Browse button and select the tool or script that launches the file comparison tool from the command line, not the actual comparison tool itself.

    Launch tools or scripts are typically located in the /usr/bin folder on your Macintosh. For example, if you want to use FileMerge, browse to /usr/bin and select opendiff, which is the tool that launches FileMerge.

    The following table lists common file comparison tools for the Macintosh and the location of their launch tools or scripts on your hard disk:

If you use

Select the following file

FileMerge

/usr/bin/opendiff (or /Developer/usr/bin/opendiff)

BBEdit

/usr/bin/bbdiff

TextWrangler

/usr/bin/twdiff

Note:

The usr folder is normally hidden in Finder. However, you can access it with the Browse button in Dreamweaver.

Note:

The actual results displayed depends on the diff tool you are using. Check the user manual for your tool to understand how to interpret the results.

Compare two local files

You can compare two files located anywhere on your computer.

  1. In the Files panel, Control‑click (Windows) or Command-click (Macintosh) the two files to select them.

    Note:

    To select files outside your defined site, select your local disk from the left pop‑up menu in the Files panel and then select the files.

  2. Right-click one of the selected files and select Compare Local Files from the context menu.

    Note:

    If you have a one-button mouse, Control‑click one of the selected files instead.

    The file comparison tool starts and compares the two files.

Compare two remote files

You can compare two files located on your remote server. You must define a Dreamweaver site with remote settings before you can accomplish this task.

  1. In the Files panel, display the files on the remote server by selecting Remote View from the right pop‑up menu.
  2. Control‑click (Windows) or Command-click (Macintosh) the two files to select them
  3. Right-click one of the selected files and select Compare Remote Files from the context menu.

    Note:

    If you have a one-button mouse, Control‑click one of the selected files instead.

    The file comparison tool starts and compares the two files.

Compare a local file to a remote file

You can compare a local file to a file located on your remote server. To do this, you must first define a Dreamweaver site with remote settings.

  • In the Files panel, right-click a local file and select Compare With Remote from the context menu.

    Note:

    If you have a one-button mouse, Control‑click the local file instead.

    The file comparison tool starts and compares the two files.

Compare a remote file to a local file

You can compare a remote file to a local file. You must define a Dreamweaver site with remote settings before accomplishing this task.

  1. In the Files panel, display the files on the remote server by selecting Remote View from the right pop‑up menu.
  2. Right-click a file in the panel and select Compare with Local from the context menu.

    Note:

    If you have a one-button mouse, Control‑click the file instead.

Compare an open file to a remote file

You can compare a file open in Dreamweaver to its counterpart on the remote server.

  • In the Document window, select File > Compare with Remote.

    The file comparison tool starts and compares the two files.

    Note:

    You can also right-click the document tab along the top of the Document window and select Compare with Remote from the context menu.

Compare before putting files

If you edit a file locally and then try to upload it to your remote server, Dreamweaver will notify you if the remote version of the file has changed. You have the option of comparing the two files before you upload the file and overwrite the remote version.

Before you start, you must install a file comparison tool on your system and specify it in Dreamweaver.

  1. After editing a file in a Dreamweaver site, put the file (Site > Put) to your remote site.

    If the remote version of the file has been modified, you’ll receive a notification with the option of seeing the differences.

  2. To view the differences, click the Compare button.

    The file comparison tool starts and compares the two files.

    If you haven’t specified a file comparison tool, you are prompted to specify one.

  3. After you’ve reviewed or merged the changes in the tool, you can proceed with the Put operation or cancel it.

Compare files when synchronizing

You can compare the local versions of your files with the remote versions when you synchronize your site files with Dreamweaver.

Before you start, you must install a file comparison tool on your system and specify it in Dreamweaver.

  1. Right-click anywhere in the Files panel and select Synchronize from the context menu.
  2. Complete the Synchronize Files dialog box and click Preview.

    After you click Preview, the selected files and the actions that will be taken during synchronization are listed.

  3. In the list, select each file you want to compare and click the Compare button (the icon with two small pages).

    Note:

    The file must be text-based, such as HTML or ColdFusion files.

    Dreamweaver starts the comparison tool, which compares the local and remote versions of each file you selected.

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