'Compare My Docs' does just what you think it does

Got a bunch of versions of Word docs you need to compare for edits? Hosted service Compare My Docs will sift through them to help you spot the differences.

Josh Lowensohn Former Senior Writer
Josh Lowensohn joined CNET in 2006 and now covers Apple. Before that, Josh wrote about everything from new Web start-ups, to remote-controlled robots that watch your house. Prior to joining CNET, Josh covered breaking video game news, as well as reviewing game software. His current console favorite is the Xbox 360.
Josh Lowensohn
2 min read

If you're a regular user of the revision comparison feature in Google Docs, you'll likely enjoy new service Compare My Docs. It comes from the same folks who created TextFlow, the Adobe AIR-based app that spot differences across multiple copies of a Word document or rich text file.

Compare My Docs does many of the same things as TextFlow, including being able to compare up to six versions of the same document to see what's been changed. The big difference though, is that it runs right in your browser and requires no sign-up whatsoever.

Just like TextFlow, Compare My Docs color codes any changes it finds between the different revisions of a document and gives you a quick and easy way to accept, reject, or set aside a change. This means you can cruise through a document and keep the changes or revisions you like, while keeping an active log of what you don't.

When finished, you'll have a new version that has all of those changes, which can be saved either as a Word doc or rich text file back on your hard drive. Although unlike what you can do in TextFlow, with Compare My Docs there's no way to publish the finished product to the Web or save it in parent company Nordic River's servers for safe keeping; something that seems meant to entice users to try out TextFlow instead.

Compare My Docs looks a lot like TextFlow, in fact it basically is, but runs in your browser instead of as an Adobe AIR app. CNET

The service does manage to suffer from some of the limitations in the core technology behind both it and TextFlow, including having photos and charts being stripped out. This means you'll have to add them back in after you've run a few documents through its editor.

Along with Compare My Docs, Nordic River is also finally releasing an API for TextFlow, which will let developers make use of the service's comparison technology in their apps or Web services. This could help make up for some of the service's shortcomings, while augmenting the versioning tools currently offered by some online services. File hosting in particular comes to mind, since places like DropBox and Box.net offer versioning, and version rollback, but in order to see the differences you have to save, then open up each file and look for differences. Those places could now very quickly build tools that let users compare multiple versions of a saved Word or text file from right within the app.

Nordic River says that TextFlow in its Adobe AIR form will remain, but that the site is closing up to new users in a few weeks until it readies a new interface. In the meantime the company will continue its free and paid services to those who have already signed up.

Correction 8:57 a.m. on November 3: This story initially misstated that users could not make edits to the text within the tool. This was due to the functionality not being present in the pre-release version of the site used for review.