O'Reilly logo

Version Control with Git, 2nd Edition by Matthew McCullough, Jon Loeliger

Stay ahead with the world's most comprehensive technology and business learning platform.

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required

Chapter 8. Diffs

A diff is a compact summary of the differences (hence the name diff) between two items. For example, given two files, the Unix and Linux diff command compares the files line by line and summarizes the deviations in a diff, as shown in Example 8-1. In the example, initial is one version of some prose and rewrite is a subsequent revision. The -u option produces a unified diff, a standardized format used widely to share modifications.

Example 8-1. Simple Unix diff

    $ cat initial                $ cat rewrite
    Now is the time              Today is the time
    For all good men             For all good men
    To come to the aid           And women
    Of their country.            To come to the aid
                                 Of their country.

    $ diff -u initial rewrite
    --- initial     1867-01-02 11:22:33.000000000 -0500
    +++ rewrite     2000-01-02 11:23:45.000000000 -0500
    @@ -1,4 +1,5 @@
    -Now is the time
    +Today is the time
     For all good men
    +And women
     To come to the aid
     Of their country.

Let’s look at the diff in detail. In the header, the original file is denoted by --- and the new file by +++. The @@ line provides line number context for both file versions. A line prefixed with a minus sign () must be removed from the original file to produce the new file. Conversely, a line with a leading plus sign (+) must be added to the original file to produce the new file. A line that begins with a space is the same in both files and is provided by the -u option as context.

By itself, a diff offers no reason or rationale for a change, nor does it justify the initial or final state. ...

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, interactive tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required