When I first switched from Windows to Mac Snow Leopard for development, Kaleidoscope file comparison was one of the first apps I installed. Unfortunately, it only took a few compares to realise that it wasn’t ready for everyday use. Yes, it was beautiful: a clean, simple interface designed especially for the Mac, rather than a port of an ugly Windows app or, worse, an “OS-neutral” Java-based app. Kaleidoscope’s fatal flaw was that it had almost no user options. More specifically, it lacked the single most useful user option a file comparison app could have – the ability to ignore white space.
Tabs, line feeds, spaces. These are the kind of things that are changed regularly during software development and maintenance: code is indented and extra space lines are routinely added to make source more readable. When you are reviewing a change, the ability to ignore these changes is essential. With the first release of Kaleidoscope you were condemned to suffer the mind-numbing waste of time that is sifting through thousands of white space “differences” just to find the two-line change that actually mattered. “Pretty, but dumb” was the best that could be said about Kaleidoscope 1.
So, now we have Kaleidoscope 2 (beta)… years after the first release it has been updated, mainly to include folder compare and merging. Both of these are very welcome additions and they seem to work how you’d expect (i.e. how almost every other file comparison app works). But, there is still no ability to ignore white space. Yet again, Kaleidoscope is rendered almost impotent for the lack of a relatively simple, often requested feature. We can only hope that it won’t be years before this omission is rectified.
A 15-day trial of the Kaleidoscope 2 beta is free to download. It’s currently priced at an eye-watering $34.99, 50% off the intended retail price.