Compare plugin started from CMD: comparison won't start automatically since N++ 7.6.6



  • Hi there.
    I had opened an issue on Github but I’ve been told this forum is a better place to get help. I’m using my message from there as a base since I think it already has all the information needed and follows the recommended template, but with a little more information since @Meta-Chuh answered to me there.

    Description of the Issue

    I’m using the Compare plugin for Notepad++, and I have setup a commandline tool to launch Notepad++, open two files and automatically launch the comparison between them.
    This has required me to download the Compare.exe file as explained in this Stackoverflow answer and put it in the Notepad++\plugins\ComparePlugin folder.

    Then, the files are called this way:

    "C:\Program Files (x86)\Notepad++\plugins\ComparePlugin\compare.exe" "C:\file1.txt" "C:\file2.txt"
    

    Now this used to work great, but yesterday there was a Notepad++ update (7.6.6), and since I installed it, the comparison doesn’t start automatically anymore.

    After @Meta-Chuh 's answer on Github, I have tried moving compare.exe from Notepad++\plugins\ComparePlugin\ to Notepad++\plugins\ComparePlugin\ComparePlugin and run it from there. But I still have the same result, the comparison still won’t start automatically.

    Steps to Reproduce the Issue

    1. Make sure you have the Compare plugin installed, and the compare.exe file in your Notepad++\plugins\ComparePlugin folder.
    2. Open a command line.
    3. Run a comparison between two files by using a command like this one:
      "C:\Program Files (x86)\Notepad++\plugins\ComparePlugin\compare.exe" "C:\file1.txt" "C:\file2.txt"

    Expected Behavior

    Notepad++ opens the two files, and lauches comparison between them. 1st file (file1.txt) is on the left, 2nd file (file2.txt) is on the right.

    Actual Behavior

    Notepad++ opens the two files (file1.txt in the first tab, file2.txt in the second tab), but it doesn’t start the comparison. You have to manually launch the comparison, by clicking on the Compare button of the toolbar.

    Debug Information

    Notepad++ v7.6.6   (32-bit)
    Build time : Apr  3 2019 - 23:49:50
    Path : C:\Program Files (x86)\Notepad++\notepad++.exe
    Admin mode : OFF
    Local Conf mode : OFF
    OS : Windows 10 (64-bit)
    Plugins : ComparePlugin.dll mimeTools.dll NppConverter.dll NppExport.dll 
    

    Thanks by advance to anyone who can help!



  • hi @Joey79100 and welcome to the notepad++ community.

    i have fiddled around a bit more, and i was not able to trigger a compare.exe compare with anything else but the original 1.5.6.6 dll, so no luck so far with e.g. ComparePlugin.dll version 2.0 or newer.

    (i only had success by using the old plugin package from your stackoverflow link: https://bitbucket.org/uph0/compare/downloads/ComparePlugin.v1.5.6.6.bin.zip )

    here are the listings of my compare plugin folders:

    Directory of c:\Program Files (x86)\Notepad++\plugins\ComparePlugin
    
    04/24/2019  12:53 PM    <DIR>          .
    04/24/2019  12:53 PM    <DIR>          ..
    04/24/2019  10:19 AM    <DIR>          ComparePlugin
    01/06/2015  01:26 PM           223,232 ComparePlugin.dll
    04/24/2019  10:19 AM    <DIR>          doc
                   1 File(s)        223,232 bytes
                   4 Dir(s)  19,907,543,040 bytes free
    
    Directory of c:\Program Files (x86)\Notepad++\plugins\ComparePlugin\ComparePlugin
    
    04/24/2019  10:19 AM    <DIR>          .
    04/24/2019  10:19 AM    <DIR>          ..
    01/06/2015  01:25 PM            79,872 compare.exe
    01/06/2015  01:29 PM               422 compare.ini
    06/12/2013  11:40 PM           600,064 git2.dll
    06/12/2013  08:31 PM           620,718 sqlite3.dll
                   4 File(s)      1,301,076 bytes
                   2 Dir(s)  19,906,506,752 bytes free
    

    my command line for compare.exe, working on 1.5.6.6:

    "c:\Program Files (x86)\Notepad++\plugins\ComparePlugin\ComparePlugin\compare.exe" "c:\Program Files (x86)\Notepad++\change.log" "c:\Program Files (x86)\Notepad++\change2.log"
    

    and here my compare.ini (stock from the zip, unmodified)

    [notepad]
    ; For instance, you have to enable and correctly configure following setting,
    ; a) if the compare.exe isn't placed in the "plugins/ComparePlugin" subfolder of the N++ path
    ; b) and if the used N++ isn't normally installed, thus not locatable via registry
    ;path=%PROGRAMFILES(X86)%\Notepad++\notepad++.exe
    [debug]
    ; For instance, use the tool "DebugView" to catch the debug output:
    ;output-debug-string=0
    

    i hope maybe someone has an idea how to start an instance of notepad++, comparing two files, directly from the command line, with newer versions of compare, or the upcoming compareplus plugin.

    best regards



  • @Joey79100

    what about using NPP_EXEC plugin with something like this

    if $(FILE_NAME) == compareit then 
    npp_close compareit
    npp_menucommand Plugins/Compare/Compare
    

    and to start the comparison one needs to provide 3 files and the last one must be named compareit - so something like

    notepad++.exe d:\test1.txt d:\test2.txt d:\compareit
    

    In order to have the NPP_EXEC script executed at startup you would save it with
    a name like CompareOnStart and within NppExec Advanced Options you
    would select this script in the execute this script when notepad++ starts

    Could this work for you?



  • @Ekopalypse
    Thank you for this useful trick! However, there are some issues which I want to clarify below.

    @Joey79100
    The NppExec script code @Ekopalypse posted above needs a little bugfix (missing endif statement). Furthermore, since you seem to be french I guess your Notepad++ UI is set to french as well. Thus the command to start comparison using the Compare plugin has to be slightly changed - the french name of the Plugins menu (should be Compléments) has to be used.

    if $(FILE_NAME) == compareit then 
      npp_close compareit
      npp_menucommand Compléments/Compare/Compare
    endif


  • @dinkumoil

    Thank you for fixing the missing part, very much appreciated.
    One question, how do you know or why do you assume that it is a french UI?



  • @Ekopalypse said:

    One question, how do you know or why do you assume that it is a french UI?

    I jumped over to the issue in Npp’s issue tracker @Joey79100 mentioned in his first posting and from there to his GitHub user profile. Looking at the ReadMe’s and commit messages of his repositories I noticed that he writes in french.

    I did that explicitly to figure out which UI language he presumably uses in Notepad++ because I’m aware of the language dependency of npp_menucommand.



  • @dinkumoil

    clever :-) - I see.
    Can’t promise, but I hope I won’t forget mentioning the localization dependency next time :-D





  • @guy038

    correct me if I’m wrong but I understood that this is what OP did in first place and
    seems not to work in 7.6.6 (maybe since 7.6) anymore.



  • @guy038

    I tried your How-To but it didn’t work. Notepad++ starts up and the two files are loaded, but no comparison takes place.

    I used the debug option of the settings file which makes it possible to view the debug output using DbgView by Sysinternals. It seems Compare.exe can not find the Plugins/Compare/Compare menu entry. It finds Plugins/Compare and then only finds the Detect Moves entry repeatedly.

    I have tried it with german and english locale for Npp’s UI and also removed the keyboard shortcut for the Compare submenu entry - no success. My Npp version is 7.5.6.

    If somebody is interested in a complete solution using the method @Ekopalypse found above - I wrote a Batch script and a VBS launcher for it (to avoid flickering console windows). The VBS launcher could be integrated into the Explorer context menu. It is able to process two files at once or it can be called twice with only one file each.



  • Hello all,

    @Joey79100 ,

    Is another instance of Notepad++ running when you start the compare.exe launcher?
    The compare launcher (compare.exe) starts Notepad++ in multi-instance mode.

    I just looked at the compare launcher (compare.exe) source code and it should work with notepad versions above version 6.
    The compare is triggered by searching for Compare plugins menu and Compare command which should both exist for Compare v2 and since the command ID is traced by name the menu ordering shouldn’t matter.

    Since the problem is with Notepad v7.6.6 I wonder if there is some kind of regression in its version API message.

    Can somebody who has installed Notepad++ 7.6.6 try sending NPPM_GETNPPVERSION (through PythonScript for example) and share what he/she gets from it?

    This issue aside, I wonder if it is worth implementing another Notepad++ command line argument that specifies which command to run upon start. What do you guys think?
    It might be gotten by name or menu and name and will be very useful for such batch invocations for any plugin or Npp command.
    This will make the compare.exe launcher (or any other additional plugin launcher) unnecessary.
    For example:

    notepad++.exe -nosession -multiInst file1 file2 .... --run=Compare:Compare
    (Compare Npp sub-menu, Compare command)

    BR



  • @pnedev said:

    Can somebody who has installed Notepad++ 7.6.6 try sending NPPM_GETNPPVERSION … and share what he/she gets from it?

    Did it using the NppExec plugin. The result is 0x00070042 - i.e. hi-word 7 and lo-word 66, the expected result.

    Since the problem is with Notepad v7.6.6 …

    The problem also exists with Notepad++ v7.5.6, see my posting above.

    I wonder if it is worth implementing another Notepad++ command line argument that specifies which command to run upon start.

    Would be nice to have, but I think people who need such a feature have no problem to install and use a plugin for that. A plugin provides more flexibility than simply simulating a mouse-click on a menu entry.



  • @dinkumoil ,

    Did it using the NppExec plugin. The result is 0x00070042 - i.e. hi-word 7 and lo-word 66, the expected result.

    Thanks for testing that.

    The problem also exists with Notepad++ v7.5.6, see my posting above.

    OK, I must have missed that.

    A plugin provides more flexibility than simply simulating a mouse-click on a menu entry.

    I agree but for more simple use it would be easier if Notepad++ could “simulate a simple mouse-click” directly through the command line.



  • Hi, @joey79100, @meta-chuh, @ekopalypse, @dinkumoil, @pnedev, @dail and All,

    Oh, stranger and stranger ! I found out something which seems off-topic but, eventually, allows the DOS program compare.exe to work nice ;-))

    • As you may know, I’m used to keep, numerous locale versions of Notepad++ for testing, on my laptop, in directories, like below :

    D:\@@\692\..., D:\@@\733\..., D:\@@\742\..., D:\@@\756\..., and of course all versions from N++ v.7.6.0 so the directories D:\@@\76x\...

    • And, generally, I don’t have the same plugins installed, in each configuration, as I installed a few for testing only !

    • Of course, for each tested version, I needed to install, first, the last Compareplugin v2.0.0.0 and its comparePlugin directory :

      • Along, with the others plugins, for tested N++ versions under v7.6.0

      • In a new Compareplugin folder, for tested versions, from v 7.6.0 and above

    • At the upper level, in the directory D:\@@, I placed the two files compare.exe and compare.ini, that I had previously extracted from the folder ComparePlugin of the archive ComparePlugin v1.5.6.6.bin.zip

    • In this same folder, I also placed two small working files z1.txt and z2.txt, slightly different, to see the results when comparing

    Remark :

    As all my N++ installations are portable ones, so not locatable via registry, the compare.ini file must contain, for instance, the line :

    path=D:\@@\760\notepad++.exe
    
    • Finally, in a DOS console window, I ran the command :
    D:\@@\compare.exe z1.txt z2.txt
    
    • And I was very intrigued to see that this same DOS command worked with my version 7.6.0 and not with my version 7.5.6 ( of course, I changed the path line, accordingly, in the compare.ini file ! ). More precisely, I mean :

      • With the 7.6.0 version, Notepad++ started with z1.txt in the main view and z2.txt in the secondary view and the compare process already done : the expected behavior :-))

      • With the 7.5.6 version, Notepad++ started with the two files, simply opened in the main view, without any compare process : the wrong behavior

    • Contrary to what you might think, this is not the consequence of the new way of installing plugins ! After one day of numerous tests ( Pfeeew ! ) I have come to the conclusion that if you include the BetterMultiSelection ( v1.3.0.0 ) plugin of Justin Dailey ( aka @dail ) , in your N++ configuration, it allows the compare.exe program, via the DOS command D:\@@\compare.exe z1.txt z2.txt, to get the right behavior ;-))

    • I cannot explain this fact and the logic of it ! I verified this assertion, with numerous versions of N++ and, of course, with any version above N++ v7.5.9 . During each test, I pressed the F1 key to make sure the expected Notepad++ version was used !

    • The tested versions of N++ were : v6.8.1, v6.8.8, v6.9.2, v7.2.0, v7.3.3, v7.4.2, v7.5.6, v7.5.8, v7.6.0, v7.6.1, v7.6.2, v7.6.3, v7.6.4, v7.6.6,


    However, be aware that some plugins break the right behavior of the compare.exe program ! Here is the ( non-exhaustive ) list of these plugins :

    AnalysePlugin.dll, AutoCompletion.dll, AutoEolFormat.dll, AutoSaveU.dll, Binhex.dll, Ccc.dll, Color_Picker.dll, ColorPicker.dll

    Up to now, after all my tests, it seems that everything is fine with all the plugins of the list, below :

        CustomizeToolbar.dll
        CutNCopyLine.dll
        DB_RegExp.dll
        DSpellCheck.dll
        ElasticTabstops.dll
        Explorer.dll
        FileSwitcher.dll
        FingerText.dll
        GhNppExec.dll
        GmodLua.dll
        HexEditor.dll
        HTMLTag.dll
        IndentByFold.dll
        LanguageHelp.dll
        LightExplorer.dll
        LineFilter.dll
        LineFilter2.dll
        LocationNavigate.dll
        LuaScript.dll
        MarkdownViewerPlusPlus.dll
        ModelineParser.dll
        MultiClipboard.dll
        NativeLang.dll
        NavigateTo.dll
        NppAStyle.dll
        NppAutoIndent.dll
        NppCalc.dll
        NppColdFusion.dll
        NppColumnSort.dll
        Nppcrypt.dll
        NppExec.dll
        NppFTP.dll
        NppHasher.dll
        NppHorizontalRuler_Eng_0.1.5.dll
        NPPJSONViewer.dll
        NppMarkdown.dll
        NppMenuSearch_0.8.0.0.dll
        NppPlugin_ChangeMarker.dll
        Nppplugin_ofis2.dll
        NppPlugin_PluginMargin.dll
        NppPlugin_SciMarkerSymbol.dll
        nppplugin_solutionhub.dll
        nppplugin_solutionhub_ui.dll
        nppplugin_solutiontools.dll
        NppQCP.dll
        NppRegEx.dll
        NppSnippets.dll
        NppTaskList.dll
        NppTextFX.dll
        OpenFileInFolders.dll
        Pork2Sausage.dll
        PreviewHTML
        PythonScript.dll
        QuickText.dll
        RunMe.dll
        Scintillua++.dll
        SearchPlus.dll
        SecurePad.dll
        SelectNLaunch.dll
        SessionMgr.dll
        SourceCookifier.dll
        SpellChecker.dll
        SurroundSelection.dll
        Tidy2.dll
        Translate.dll
        VIsimulator.dll
        XBrackets.dll
        XmlNavigator.dll
        XMLTools.dll
        XPatherizerNPP.dll
        ZenCoding-Python.dll
        ZoomDisabler.dll
    

    So, guys, could you test my assumption ? ( the fact of adding the BetterMultiSelection plugin is the key !? ) Many thanks for that !

    https://github.com/dail8859/BetterMultiSelection/releases

    Best Regards,

    guy038

    P.S. :

    May be, all this story is related with my Win XP SP3 laptop configuration ! Here is my debug info for the last v7.6.6 N++ version :

    Notepad++ v7.6.6   (32-bit)
    Build time : Apr  3 2019 - 23:49:50
    Path : D:\@@\766\notepad++.exe
    Admin mode : OFF
    Local Conf mode : ON
    OS : Windows XP (32-bit)
    Plugins : BetterMultiSelection.dll ComparePlugin.dll DSpellCheck.dll mimeTools.dll NppConverter.dll NppExport.dll 
    


  • @guy038

    I would like to take credit for purposely enabling the functionality with the BetterMultiSelection plugin…but I haven’t the slightest idea to why it does. The only “odd” thing it might do is hook the keyboard, but my SurroundSelection works the same way. So not sure what the root cause is.



  • Hi, @Dail and All,

    I also tested your other SurroundSelection plugin to verify if it could act as a catalyst ! Unfortunately, it cannot take on this role:-(

    On the other hand, even if your BetterMultiSelection is not enabled, it does not prevent the compare.exe program for acting just as expected ;-)) So, people may install it, without using it, if preferred !

    Tested on two configurations v7.5.6 and v7.6.6. Very very strange, indeed !!

    Cheers,

    guy038



  • @guy038

    Indeed, some of the plugins you found preventing compare.exe from working correctly are installed at my testing environment with Notepad++ v7.6.6 (a VM ), e.g. AnalysePlugin, AutoEolFormat and ColorPicker.

    But I don’t think that these plugins directly prevent compare.exe from doing its job nor do I believe that the BetterMultiSelection plugin is directly responsible for allowing compare.exe to work properly.

    When compare.exe starts up Notepad++, it performs a (I would like to call it) “remote search” in the menu structure of Notepad++ to find the correct menu entry (menu Plugins\Compare\Compare) to simulate a mouse-click on. Unfortunately the Plugins menu gets build up dynamically by Notepad++ during its startup. The time needed for that process depends on the number of installed plugins and how many submenu entries they want to install.

    That means compare.exe can not exactly know when the Plugins menu is completely built up. Instead it has to use guessing to try to get the right point of time to start its search. I think it waits for a certain time before searching or it tries to find the menu entry a certain number of times and gives up if it was not able to find it or it uses a combination of both methods. If I look to the debug output (see my posting above) I tend to say it uses at least the second approach.

    For what ever reason the presence of the BetterMultiSelection plugin helps compare.exe (maybe only on your system!) to get the right point of time for starting its search (but I have no clue how this could work) and the presence of other plugins prevent it from that.



  • Hi @dinkumoil and All,

    You said :

    That means compare.exe can not exactly know when the Plugins menu is completely built up. Instead it has to use guessing to try to get the right point of time to start its search. I think it waits for a certain time before searching or it tries to find the menu entry a certain number of times and gives up if it was not able to find it or it uses a combination of both methods.

    I do think that it’s the main point ! Thinking again about this matter, I realize that the list of the 8 plugins, that I gave in my previous post, and which prevents the compare.exe from working as expected, have a name with the first letter between A and C, only. And, as if by chance, the BetterMultiSelection name begins with letter B… …

    Not difficult to understand that, if any of these 8 plugins are not present, the BetterMultiSelection plugin becomes, generally, the first plugin of the alphabetic list of the plugins, … and, a priori, right before the Compare plugin ;-)) ;-)) This should mean a lot !?

    Best Regards,

    guy038



  • Hi all,

    The problem was in the code of the compare loader itself.

    for (int i = 0; i < iMenuItems; i++)
    {
    ...
    GetMenuItemInfo(hPluginMenu, i, TRUE, &mii);
    if (!lstrcmp(buffer, L"Compare"))
    {
    ...
    int iSubMenuItems = GetMenuItemCount(mii.hSubMenu);
    for (int j = 0; j < iSubMenuItems; j++)
    {
    ...
    GetMenuItemInfo(mii.hSubMenu, i, TRUE, &smii);

    The second GetMenuItemInfo should use the second forcycle index:

    GetMenuItemInfo(mii.hSubMenu, j, TRUE, &smii);

    BR


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