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Meld for graphical merging

Software: Great LWN weekly edition last Friday; not only is there a very nice article about SpamAssassin, debunking the ‘open spam filtering rules considered harmful’ myth, but there’s a great tool tip: Meld, a new graphical merging tool.

Basically, when you have two pieces of text, and want to merge them together into one, you need a merge tool. This is a tricky job; most people just get the tool to stick them all in one file, CVS-style, and try to figure it out visually. It’s fraught with problems.

Hence the idea of using a GUI to ease the task. There have been other graphical merge tools before; I know of the proprietary one bundled with ClearCase, and tkdiff. However, both of these just aren’t very good — it’s quite simply too hard to figure out exactly what direction which piece of text came from.

Looks like meld is a fantastic effort to fix this; take a look at the screenshots. The key is the approach they’ve taken of having a drawable area in the middle between the two differing texts; this is used for lines and graphical indications of what came from where. It really seems to work, from what I can see.