Difference Viewer

Table of Contents

Introduction to Difference Viewer

With Difference Viewer, you can efficiently view, compare, and code documents across entire near duplicate groups from a single view displaying only unique text. To access Difference Viewer, open the duplicates context on the left-side context panel of the Review Window and select “View differences” on the bottom left. Or, press “d” on your keyboard.

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Difference Viewer displays a combined view of the text from an entire near duplicate group.

  • Shared text is unmarked and is consistent across the entire group. 
  • Differences are highlighted boxes marking where the text is not the same across the entire group. 
  • On the right-side panel, you can see Variants representing the unique text, and associated documents, that could appear within each difference. 
  • On the top-left, you can change the Reference Document to view the group in relation to a particular document.

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Imagine Difference Viewer as a stack of similar documents. At the top of the stack is the reference document that you are comparing the rest against. Shared text shows what’s the same throughout the stack. Think of the differences (highlighted boxes) as holes cut into the stack showing different content beneath. You can display variants within a difference to show unique text from the documents lower in the stack. Changing the reference document is placing a different document on the top of the stack to compare the rest against.

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Everlaw’s Difference Viewer allows you to review and code an entire near duplicate group in a single pass from start to finish without ever needing to read the same text twice. 

For example, you might use Difference Viewer to quickly see that the only difference in a group is an irrelevant change in a signature block and quickly rate the entire near duplicate group as cold. 

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Or, you might review versions of a contract that have changed over time, quickly isolating and coding only those documents with a particular problematic provision. 

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Navigating Difference Viewer

Differences represent places where text diverges within the near duplicate group. You can navigate differences:

  • With the up and down arrows at the top of your screen
  • By entering the number of the difference to jump to it
  • By using the up/down arrows on your keyboard 

Click on a difference to select it.

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Variants represent the unique text for one or more documents within a difference. When a difference is selected, its variants will all display on the right-side panel, along with the number of documents that share each variant. You can use the caret icon to expand the list of documents that share any specific variant. 

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Click on a variant to select it. The selected variant’s content will display on the left within the selected difference so you can view it in the context of the surrounding shared text. You can navigate variants in three ways:

  •  With the left/right arrows
  • Entering the number of the variant they’d like to jump to
  • Using the left/right arrows on your keyboard.

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The reference document represents the document you view the rest of the group from. By default, the reference document is the document you entered Difference Viewer from. You can change the reference document with the “Document” drop-down near the top-left or by selecting a Bates/Control # from the right-side variant panel.

Changing the reference document will make two visual changes:

  • It will fill in the variants of the new reference document in every difference so that the combined view only shows text from the reference document. 
  • It will pin the variant from the reference document to the top of the right-side variants panel for every difference. 

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The variant from the reference document displays in blue. The other variants display in gray. Whenever you navigate away from a difference, the displayed variant will pop back to that of the reference document. So, the only variant you can view at once that is “out of sync” with the reference document is the one you’re actively interacting with. 

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Reviewing from a reference document you’re familiar with can be very helpful, and Everlaw recommends sticking with a single reference document when reviewing a near duplicate group for the most efficient experience. That way, you can complete a single pass of an entire near duplicate group at once without needing to review any duplicate content. 

Applying Review Work

To apply review work in Difference Viewer, open the batch coding panel using the modify button on the bottom right of the variants panel.

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The batch coding panel will change whichever documents are included in the selected variants, represented by the checkboxes in the variants panel. By default, the entire near duplicate group is selected.

Note that instead of selecting or deselecting  individual documents with these checkboxes, you are acting on the set of documents that share the unique content of that variant. In the example below, if you’re coding for evidence that a facility is bad for agricultural use, you could select only the variant that reads the soil is “thin and ill-suited” for agriculture. By selecting that variant, you’re coding only the eight documents that share that unique content among the larger near duplicate group. 


Additional Information

Variant Sort Order: On the right-side variant panel, the reference document’s variant will always display first. After that, by default, are variants with the longest text to shortest text. You can also choose to sort variants by the number of documents associated with each variant or alphabetically. 


Near Duplicate Group Settings: Note that Difference Viewer will always display the near duplicate group as configured in the project settings, which by default includes exact duplicates, near duplicates, and email duplicates. The context panel will always display the most comprehensive notion of a duplicate to give full context. If an admin has chosen a narrower criteria for near duplicate grouping for the search and results table, Difference Viewer will display that near duplicate group. On such projects, you may notice a difference in the full set of near duplicates available in the context panel from the near duplicate groups chosen for search and Difference Viewer. So, you might see fewer documents included within Difference Viewer than you do in the near duplicates group of the context panel. This is because the context panel always displays a comprehensive set of near duplicates, but Project Administrators can set the near duplicate grouping to a narrower set of criteria, which defines what is included within the Difference Viewer.

Availability: Difference Viewer is not available for all near duplicate groups. Some common reasons Difference Viewer may not be available include: 

  • Document Type: Difference viewer is not available for some document types that don’t work well as text, like spreadsheets. 
  • Partial Group: If only a subset of a group is available either because of document access permissions or partial projects, the group is not currently viewable in Difference Viewer. 
  • No text differences: Sometimes, near duplicates might still have the exact same text so there’s no textual differences that Difference Viewer is able to display. 
  • Group too large: Difference viewer will not display groups larger than 500 documents, and in some cases may limit especially complex groups even if less than 500 documents. 

Near Duplicate Grouping: When uploading or changing duplicate settings, a near duplicate grouping in progress warning will appear in the top banner in Difference Viewer. This indicates that the displayed documents may not yet reflect the most up to date near duplicate grouping information. 


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