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2011-05-17 The Files are Different

Today a user calls me to complain that a file I sent them is very different than a previous file I sent.

So how do you compare two files against each other? I use a spreadsheet called CompareSheets.xls to determine the differences. The program will:

1. Get you to select the two files you want to compare
2. Press a button to start the comparison
3. Compare the data cell by cell and display a list of differences

After the comparison runs the sheet allows me to step by step view the differences in the two files. I examine the data and notice that the differences are caused by the user adding a formula while the sheet was filtered on one sheet but not the other.

This is a case where developing tools for my work paid off. I was quickly able to diagnose the problem.

It also reminds me that you should always compare output against a previous working or validated output to make sure you haven't changed anything.