The art of SPDocKit compare wizardry

Have you ever faced an issue where you had no clue what was going on with your SharePoint environment, let alone what changed and what suddenly went wrong?

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Gather all them differences!

If you’re not familiar with the SPDocKit Compare Wizard, let’s explore how the Wizard can help you track all the changes in your SharePoint farm settings.

The main purpose of the Compare Wizard is to effortlessly show differences, which you can then further analyze. And I promise that once you get to know SPDocKit, you will always have an answer ready when someone asks, What went wrong? It worked in the pre-production environment, but when it was deployed to production, it didn’t.”

Your first step is to select a compare type; in other words, you’ll choose what you want to compare and track changes in. You’ll notice that some types have two or more subtypes, which provide more detailed scopes for comparisons.

SPDocKit compare types

There are five major compare types in SPDocKit:

  • Farms
  • Web Applications
  • Site Collections
  • Permissions
  • Web.config files

Farms

SPDocKit stores snapshots of your entire farm configuration. This makes it possible to track changes in an entire farm or even different farms. Depending on your exact needs, you can pick from one of the following types of farm comparisons:

  • Compare Farm with a Previous Snapshot—This lists the configuration differences between snapshots of two farms. This type of comparison is ideal if you want an overview of all the changes made over time.
  • Compare Two Different SharePoint Farms—This lists differences between two different SharePoint farms. This type of comparison is most useful if you have multiple farms, such as DEV, TEST, STAGE, PROD, and QA farms.
  • Compare with Out-of-the-Box Farm—This lists differences between your farm and SharePoint’s baseline farm settings. This type of comparison can help you determine how a farm’s configuration has been altered in comparison to the default settings.

The awesome thing about SPDocKit is that it lets you go through the farm compare feature and compare all SharePoint farm settings, every web application and site collection.

When comparing two different SharePoint farms, you can map service applications, accounts, database and host names, URLs, service application proxies between two farms, servers, and SQL Servers.

Web Application

This feature lets you compare two SharePoint web application configurations to check for any differences. You can compare two different web applications or the same application at different points in time.

Select a snapshot that contains the web application settings you want to compare, and select web applications in the Compare Results window. SPDocKit will detect the differences and give you results with objects marked showing, for example, differences in children or objects that are missing in the scope or target. SPDocKit will also show any differences in rows and cells.
This is the result of Web applications comparison.

Site Collections

Comparing site collections covers a narrower scope than comparing web applications.

Site collection comparison lets you find any differences between two different site collections or track changes for one site collections over a specific period.

You can compare any two site collections, and they don’t even have to be from the same web application or farm.
Examine the site collection’s configuration in a relation to another SharePoint site collection or track changes through time.

SharePoint Permissions

Troubleshooting permissions and figuring out why your users can access one document but not another is difficult. Before SPDocKit came along, these kinds of tasks made people want to launch their computers into the sun. Luckily, you don’t have to resort to this.

Managing permissions and generating SharePoint documentation are the two main features that helped propel SPDocKit to become the ultimate SharePoint administration tool.

You can compare SharePoint permissions for different subsites, lists, and list items. Like other compare features, you have the option to compare permissions on two different subsites or compare permissions for one particular subsite over time. This makes it easy to track permission changes through different periods.

There are four subtypes of permission comparisons:

  • Object to Object—This lists permission differences between any two SharePoint objects.
  • Permissions Differences—This lists all the permission changes made in SharePoint over time, such as granted and removed permissions, changes in permission inheritances, changes made to SharePoint objects, and principals’ Active Directory permissions since the last snapshot.
  • Group to Group—This compares two different groups to check for changes made to group members. It’s quite useful when you need to troubleshoot permissions and identify duplicate SharePoint or Active Directory groups.
  • Membership Differences—This compares SharePoint or Active Directory groups to check for any changes over time.

Compare permissions between sites, lists and list items, users, and groups - in addition, set up alerts and receive email notifications each time a change in permissions is detected.

Web.config files

There are a few things you should keep an eye on when it comes to web.config files, especially because these files contain configuration parameters, which is something you shouldn’t joke around with. The web.config files are so important because they need to be identical across all your Web Front End servers. If they’re not, you might experience some issues.

When you’ve manually changed the configuration, you must make sure tall the changes are implemented on all your SharePoint servers hosting a particular web app. This can be done manually through the Internet Information Services Manager, but let me tell you, it’s tedious monkey work.

Instead, you can do it the easy way. With our Compare Wizard, you can verify that all changes are properly implemented on all the SharePoint servers hosting a particular web app. You can also check to see if there are any differences between your web.config files on various web applications.
Compare web.config files across different servers, web applications and web application zones

Tell us what you think!

We like to think that we’ve made the SPDocKit Compare Wizard and the compare feature itself rather intuitive. We’ve tried to keep at as simple as possible. I encourage you to take advantage of the free 30-day trial period to test out SPDocKit.

If you liked our Compare feature, what would you say was the best thing about it? Would you recommend SPDocKit to your business partners and colleagues? Do you think we should add other compare types? Join our Community portal and share your thoughts.

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