Finding changes in report output

Thursday 25 January 2018 @ 4:23 pm

I often work with large and complex reports. Sometimes making a minor change can have unexpected consequences. I like to be able to see that the only things that changed are the things I intended to change. If the report is long or dense it can be a challenge to identify changes. But I recently worked out a relatively simple way to identify all of the values on a report that have changed as the result of my formula changes. I use the “compare” add-on in NotePadd ++.

So the first thing I do is refresh the ‘before’ report so I know that I have up to the minute data. Then I export the entire report into TXT format, creating the file before.txt. Then I make my change(s) and export the entire report a second time into TXT format, creating the file after.txt. Now I open these two files in open NotePad++ and run a compare.  All of the differences will be highlighted and it is easy to see all the changes.

For example, one of my upcoming assignments is to simplify the formulas in a complex report without changing the output. So my plan is to use this method after each round of changes. Since nothing should be different, any changes I find in the compare process will be a sign of a mistake.

If you haven’t tried NP++ (which is free) you can read more about it here, including the best place to download it (see update below).

Update – I just tried to install NP++ for a customer and I couldn’t add the Compare plugin because the plugin manager was completely missing. After some research I found that the developer of the plugin manager module added a sponsorship image (an ad) and so the plugin manager is no longer included in new downloads. If you already have the plugin manager upgrades will not affect you, since this only affects new installs.  The developer of NP++  is working on a replacement plugin manager.

Since Ninite always installs the latest version I recommend that, for now, you download NP++ version 7.4.2 directly from the NP++ site.  This was the last version that came with the plugin manager. It should automatically update itself to the latest version of NP++.









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Jeff-Net
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