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PDFDiff for Mac

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Posted by MadaboutDana
Jun 7, 2021 at 10:13 AM


Yo folks, just a quickie that’s tangentially relevant to outliners, but especially to citation apps or equivalent.

I’m just testing out a new app for macOS called PDFDiff (available from the Mac App Store). It allows you to compare a couple of PDFs, using colours to highlight the differences between the two PDFs.

I was initially full of scepticism, because I’ve used many PDF differential comparison apps over the years and they’ve all been (severely) flawed, especially when comparing two longer PDFs. But so far, PDFDiff is proving exceptionally capable. I’m using it to compare two annual reports (2019 and 2020), one 140 pages, one 110 pages long, and despite the differences in length and the major structural differences in various areas, the app is making an unbelievably competent stab at highlighting the changes.

The only thing it hasn’t spotted so far is the transfer of an auditor’s report from one part of the document to a completely different part of the document – the report is pretty much identical from one year to the next, but clearly the 60-page shunt caused PDFDiff to miss it. Having said that, it’s successfully “found” plenty of other major shifts/text transfers.

As anyone involved in translation knows, dealing efficiently with PDFs is quite difficult, because depending on the competence of the layout artist, the text is more or less tricky to extract into something more writer-friendly (which one can then feed into a CAT tool for close comparison). This new app (with a footprint of just 4MB – yes, really!) is a valuable addition to the translator’s toolset.

So: apologies for the not-entirely-outliner-related post, but it’s definitely a goodie for information/knowledge management!