HMEPS SharePoint InfoPath Version Compare WebPart

After moving from a Microsoft Access/Word-based forms library to a SharePoint/InfoPath solution, the Houston Municipal Employees Pension System (HMEPS) organization requested document version comparison functionality similar to Word’s change tracking feature. While SharePoint provides versioning and check in/check out functionality, it does not include tracking of individual changes within a document. Manual comparison of changes between document versions was inefficient and relying on the comments submitted with each check-in was impractical.

Houston Computer Consulting LLC determined that no document version comparison components were readily available for SharePoint. A custom SharePoint WebPart was developed to deliver the requested functionality. The WebPart uses SharePoint’s built-in web services to display a list of InfoPath documents. After a document is selected, a list of its versions is displayed. The user can select any two versions of the document to compare. A word-wise text comparison is then run on the underlying XML and a merged version of the two documents is displayed. New text is displayed with a green highlight and deleted text is displayed with a red strikethrough font.

The custom WebPart demonstrates the level of customization and flexibility that is possible with SharePoint. By leveraging existing text comparison/merge source code, Houston Computer Consulting was able to quickly deliver the requested functionality. As a result, HMEPS was able to comfortably move to the new SharePoint-based forms library while retaining commonly used functionality from MS Word.

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