Recently, #we released Collection Update 1 (CU1) for Pipeline Pilot 8.5, and along with many other updates to various component collections, we have updated the Professional (Pro) Client and released a new feature called “Protocol Comparison”. In software development it is very common to use a “diff” tool to compare two versions of code, to see where differences occur and determine if the differences should be kept or resolved. This can be very useful when working on a newer version of a program, or, when multiple developers have worked on the same program, combining it into a single working version.
Well, Protocol Comparison is like “diffing” for Pipeline Pilot protocols. For two versions of a protocol, it allows you to see which components have been added, deleted, or modified. For modified components, there is a report that shows all the changes to that component, and the same information is provided at the protocol level itself. It also shows which pipes have been added or deleted, and we have incorporated a tool for comparing scripts and long parameter values. Typical scenarios where we think this will be valuable is to review recent changes to your protocol, to see which ones to keep and which to revert, and where multiple authors are working on the same protocol. You can also compare the same protocol deployed to different servers, to simplify the process of making changes to a protocol on a development server, and deploying that protocol to a production server with confidence that only the desired changes have been made.
Protocol Comparison is a feature that has been requested for some time, and although conceptually quite simple, proved to be a fairly challenging task to implement. We’re not aware of any other diff that makes comparisons in the graphical way that Protocol Comparison works, so we’re excited about it and we think this is a big advantage to anyone who uses Pipeline Pilot to create data processing pipelines. I hope you will use it, and provide us feedback about your experiences with it, and any further enhancements you’d like to see.