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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2018

    Lightbulb Use BC to linear_order a large collection of materials into subject-oriented segments

    I'm trying to organize 1200 pages of materials generated over 15 years into a correspondingly huge linear exposition. The chunks of this material are sometimes a paragraph, sometimes several pages, pertaining to some part of the whole work. So the task is changing 1200 pages of disorganized materials into 100-200 subject-oriented segments in a linearly-ordered 1200 page rough draft.

    When I pick up a chunk in the disorganized 1200 and want to move it into its best placement in what will be the ordered 1200 pages--and noting also that the linear ordering of the 100-200 subject-oriented segments is also somewhat fluid and gets revised as I go--my memory does not suffice. Searching for a salient term can still turn up 50 hits, as sometimes a term is used referentially, as contrasted with the few places in the linear order where it will be substantively treated, and where it might best be placed. I tried to find software that would provide a visual display of clusters of hits, as a way of directing me to probable placements, that wouldn't require me to visit every hit. Though there might be some word-processor that does this, I couldn't locate such a feature in my internet efforts.

    Enter Beyond Compare. BC provides a vertical thumbprint of the location of all changes between two files—in my case rtf's. So I exported my DevonThink Pro draft file into two rtf copies: one the reference copy, and the other the "to be modified" copy. I opened the "to be modified" copy in TextEdit, and also opened a comparison in BC between the reference and "to be modified" files, and set the preferences in BC to update the comparison automatically when any changes to the files were made.

    Now I do a "find/replace ALL" for a salient term in the "to be modified" copy, adding a • symbol within the term, and then switch to BC, which on becoming the active application compares the files and maps the locations of this difference, allowing me to see and explore those places in the huge document where the salient term clusters. When I've decided where to put the chunk, I switch to DevonThink Pro and do so, then I return to TextEdit and "undo" the find/replace ALL operation. Enter BC to update back to a difference-less comparison, then back to DevonThink Pro for the next chunk to be placed.

    It's more elegant a process than it sounds, and it has saved me interminably clicking through irrelevant hits to accomplish this daunting organization of essentially several paragraphs at a time in a 1200 page work.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Madison, WI


    Thanks for the use case story! Just in case it helps, you can right-click the Text Compare's Thumbnail scroll (View menu -> Thumbnail to enable/disable), and you can switch between a fixed mode or Allow Scrolling, depending on which preview size better meets your needs.
    Aaron P Scooter Software

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