Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Changes 1.5

Changes 1.5 is much more useful than previous versions thanks to a new “SCM HUD” window that lets you, from your editor, select two revisions of the current file to compare. It currently works with Git and Subversion.

Overall, I prefer the Find Differences feature in BBEdit (and TextWrangler) for processing differences one at a time, and I prefer viewing git diff patches color-coded in TextMate to get the big picture of what’s changed. Changes seems suited to an in-between case, where you want to see what’s changed and also make a few edits. All these tools are better than FileMerge, of course.

I found the default color scheme confusing, as I’m used to red meaning deleted, not changed. A gray background with blue text seemed to work better.



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Not used 1.5 yet. But $50 - too expensive? That's funny. That's 20-30 minutes @ contracting rates. Changes.app has saved me much more than that over the last year or so.

(Full disclosure know the developer yadda yadda)

Contracting rates are relevant in determining whether it’s worth it for you to buy the software. But that’s not how Mac software is priced—otherwise everything would be a lot more expensive. MarsEdit is $30, but it’s certainly saved more than $30 of my time.

Subjectively, I think $50 is a lot relative to the apps that one would use with Changes. There are apps that one lives in, and there are specialized apps for performing particular tasks, and Changes is the latter. Right now, TextMate is $53 and provides some built-in version control and file comparison features, along with tons of other stuff, and that makes the $50 for Changes seem off. Maybe TextMate is absurdly cheap. TextWrangler, too.

Or if you look at Espresso and Coda, these are integrated environments that are $80 and $100. Some of the key features like CSSEdit and Transmit can be broken out for $40 and $30. Subjectively, these apps do more than Changes.

Also, at $69 Cornerstone provides a full Subversion interface with an integrated file comparison tool that supports syntax coloring.

So the relative pricing is one issue.

Secondly, I think $50 could be a reasonable price for a file comparison app, but that Changes isn’t that app (yet). For me, at least, Changes provides functionality that’s roughly equivalent to what’s built into the tools that I’m already using. It does some things better, but overall I prefer my existing tools. If Changes did a lot more (better version control integration, better editor, more file types, etc.) so that it could replace my patchwork of file comparison tools rather than augment them, I would be willing to pay a lot more than $50 for it. Imagine if it were the Script Debugger of this space. I hope that’s where it goes, but right now—for me, at least—it’s a good app that isn’t better enough.

[...] like BBEdit or Changes. Overall, I think it’s prettier but less useful than Changes, with the same basic drawback: it isn’t quite integrated enough to fit into my workflow. I want more than the ability to [...]

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