I took a minute to see if there is a viable Linux alternative to WinDiff. Surprisingly, the search results have shown that WinDiff 3 will have its Linux version, being built on Qt.
Also, Meld is repeatedly quoted to outsmart WinDiff. I knew I’ve installed it some time ago, but couldn’t remember why it just didn’t stick.
Surprisingly I’ve remembered it immediately, as soon as I’ve seen the screenshot:
I’m still convinced that file comparison tool is all about the changes. And making changes visible is easily done by making the equal things get out of the way. A perfect way to do that appears to be alignment of the identical text parts (I wouldn’t mind even hiding, but a bit of context might come quite useful sometimes):
I decided to go after the issue, and see if it’s a configurable thing in Meld, but, to my surprise, the authors of Meld went even further. They literally made a special page for a statement that this is not an option. “Aligning changes by adding lines” is not possible: http://meldmerge.org/help/missing-functionality.html
At least they are honest. They either don’t plan or don’t have time to implement it. But wait, it’s a single thing, and they have created the entire page ‘Things that Meld doesn’t do’. Do they really not know if they don’t want to do it?
The explanation “It does not insert additional lines so that the left and right sides of a particular change are the same size.” shows that authors appear to miss the point. Unfortunately I couldn’t make the point directly to the authors (bug tracker takes hours to register), but it’s not about the same size of changes. It’s about the identical lines that are visually extremely simple to ignore if they appear side by side.
I’m still wondering if this might help authors consider this for implementing.