Merging documents

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maurerc
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Merging documents

Post by maurerc »

If I send out a document to a committee for review and receive six versions back, each using track changes, can I merge all six sets of comments and changes into a single file?

martin
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Re: Merging documents

Post by martin »

I'm afraid there isn't any way to do that, sorry. A custom macro might be able to accomplish some of what you propose. Merging and combining comments applied to different versions of the same document might be relatively easy, but anything that needs to cope with potentially conflicting tracked changes would be complicated and messy. I don't think there's any way to ensure such a hypothetical macro always succeeds.

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phspaelti
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Re: Merging documents

Post by phspaelti »

While what Martin says is of course true, provided all drafts started from the same original, one could write a macro that created an inventory of all the changes and listed them in document order for each of the drafts. These edit lists could then be combined and again sorted by edit location order. At that point one would have to review the list for all overlapping changes. If there are no overlapping changes at all, the changes could all be merged/combined.

But the truth is even in the best case scenario such merging will not always be successful, and an actual thinking person will always be required, to ensure a sensible result. To understand this take a simplistic example:

Original: The apples was rotten.
Editor A: The [apple] was rotten.
Editor B: The apples [were] rotten.
Combined edits: The apple were rotten.

Since the two edits do not overlap they are easily combined. But the result is nonsense.
philip

martin
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Re: Merging documents

Post by martin »

Philip's example shows the problem clearly. But there are potential situations that are much messier, even with simple text. At least with Philip's two editors the changes do not overlap and you can present both edits at once. But consider:

Original: The apples was rotten.
Editor A: The [apple] was rotten.
Editor C: The [golden pear is] rotten.

How are you going to neatly show these two overlapping edits in a single document? You might have whole edited sentence or paragraphs that weave and overlap each other from multiple editors. It could be a real nightmare to sort out, for software or the original author.

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phspaelti
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Re: Merging documents

Post by phspaelti »

Just back to my original suggestion: Merging the changed docs is not going to work, but displaying all changes together is possible.

One version of such a macro can be made very easily using NWP's super-duper Show Find Results command. Here is the resulting macro:
Show Tracked Changes (by doc).nwm
(5.79 KiB) Downloaded 5 times
This will give you a nice window listing all the changes for each document. And the edits are clickable, and will take you right to the location in the relevant document.

The only downside is that the edits will be ordered by document. So I tried a more home-brewed version. This one sorts all the changes by location (as measured in the original doc). The results are no longer clickable, but you should be able to see overlapping changes more easily.
Show Tracked Changes (by location).nwm
(7.03 KiB) Downloaded 6 times
philip

maurerc
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Re: Merging documents

Post by maurerc »

Thank you. The latter sounds exactly like what I was after.

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