The diff UNIX utility has been a great tool for me. It performs a task I need to do regularly, find the differences between two files. Unfortunately, despite using it regularly, I am still routinely puzzled by its output. To the rescue: a tool I already had installed, but didn’t know about.

FileMerge.app is an application bundled with Xcode that can be invoked at the command line to display differences between files (or directories!):

$ opendiff path1 path2

This opens a very intuitive GUI to display the differences. (Wow! And I thought piping diff‘s output to TextMate to use its diff mode was an improvement…)

You can even hook it into Subversion. By the way, the IDL Workbench has a similar tool built into it.