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When using the file comparison tool in Oxygen XML Web Author, there are cases where there are actually some sort of differences between the text versions of the files, but you see one of the following messages: No visual differences between the two files were detected or There are differences that cannot be displayed in the visual comparison mode. This means that if the two files were compared in a text mode version of the file comparison tool, a difference would be detected, but since Web Author's version is a visual file comparison tool, when the files are rendered, there are no visible differences. In these instances, the differences are insignificant for the visual rendering because the differences are somewhere in the XML source code and do not affect how the document looks in the visual editor or in the published output.

There are several possible scenarios:
  • Whitespace Differences - There could be differences in the formatting or indentation of insignificant whitespaces that exist in the XML syntax for readability purposes in a text mode, but these whitespaces are not rendered in a visual mode or in the output. For example, blank lines in the XML syntax would be considered insignificant whitespaces, so if one file has more blank lines than the other, no visual differences will be detected even though there are differences in the number of lines in the text version of the documents. Another example would be a difference in XML tag indentation.
  • Encoding Differences - If the two files have a different encoding, there will be no visual differences detected unless the two encodings render any characters differently.
  • Attribute Order Differences - If the two files have any differences in the order that attributes appear in any particular element (and the attributes and elements are the same), the visual mode will not detect any differences.
  • DOCTYPE Declaration Differences - If the two files have a difference in their DOCTYPE declaration, that particular difference is not detected in the visual comparison.
  • XML Comment Differences - If an XML comment is added inside an element that is not rendered in the visual editor or the output, this type of difference is not detected in the visual comparison. For example, an XML comment added in between row elements within a table's body element.