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This is Info file diff.info, produced by Makeinfo-1.55 from the input
file ./diff.texi.

   This file documents the the GNU `diff', `diff3', `sdiff', and `cmp'
commands for showing the differences between text files and the `patch'
command for using their output to update files.

   Copyright (C) 1992, 1993, 1994 Free Software Foundation, Inc.

   Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of this
manual provided the copyright notice and this permission notice are
preserved on all copies.

   Permission is granted to copy and distribute modified versions of
this manual under the conditions for verbatim copying, provided that
the entire resulting derived work is distributed under the terms of a
permission notice identical to this one.

   Permission is granted to copy and distribute translations of this
manual into another language, under the above conditions for modified
versions, except that this permission notice may be stated in a
translation approved by the Foundation.


File: diff.info,  Node: Top,  Up: (dir)

   This file documents the the GNU `diff', `diff3', `sdiff', and `cmp'
commands for showing the differences between text files and the `patch'
command for using their output to update files.

   This is Edition 1.2, for `diff' 2.4 and `patch' 2.1.

* Menu:

* Overview::            Preliminary information.

* Comparison::          What file comparison means.
* Output Formats::      Formats for difference reports.
* Comparing Directories::       Comparing files and directories.
* Adjusting Output::    Making `diff' output prettier.
* diff Performance::    Making `diff' smarter or faster.
* Comparing Three Files:: Formats for three-way difference reports.

* diff3 Merging::       Merging from a common ancestor.
* Interactive Merging:: Interactive merging with `sdiff'.
* Merging with patch::  Using `patch' to change old files into new ones.
* Making Patches::      Tips for making patch distributions.

* Invoking cmp::        How to run `cmp' and a summary of its options.
* Invoking diff::       How to run `diff' and a summary of its options.
* Invoking diff3::      How to run `diff3' and a summary of its options.
* Invoking patch::      How to run `patch' and a summary of its options.
* Invoking sdiff::      How to run `sdiff' and a summary of its options.

* Incomplete Lines::    Lines that lack trailing newlines.
* Projects::            If you think you've found a bug or other shortcoming.

* Concept Index::       Index of concepts.


File: diff.info,  Node: Overview,  Next: Comparison,  Up: Top

Overview
********

   Computer users often find occasion to ask how two files differ.
Perhaps one file is a newer version of the other file.  Or maybe the
two files started out as identical copies but were changed by different
people.

   You can use the `diff' command to show differences between two
files, or each corresponding file in two directories.  `diff' outputs
differences between files line by line in any of several formats,
selectable by command line options.  This set of differences is often
called a "diff" or "patch".  For files that are identical, `diff'
normally produces no output; for binary (non-text) files, `diff'
normally reports only that they are different.

   You can use the `cmp' command to show the offsets and line numbers
where two files differ.  `cmp' can also show all the characters that
differ between the two files, side by side.  Another way to compare two
files character by character is the Emacs command `M-x
compare-windows'.  *Note Other Window: (emacs)Other Window, for more
information on that command.

   You can use the `diff3' command to show differences among three
files.  When two people have made independent changes to a common
original, `diff3' can report the differences between the original and
the two changed versions, and can produce a merged file that contains
both persons' changes together with warnings about conflicts.

   You can use the `sdiff' command to merge two files interactively.

   You can use the set of differences produced by `diff' to distribute
updates to text files (such as program source code) to other people.
This method is especially useful when the differences are small compared
to the complete files.  Given `diff' output, you can use the `patch'
program to update, or "patch", a copy of the file.  If you think of
`diff' as subtracting one file from another to produce their
difference, you can think of `patch' as adding the difference to one
file to reproduce the other.

   This manual first concentrates on making diffs, and later shows how
to use diffs to update files.

   GNU `diff' was written by Mike Haertel, David Hayes, Richard
Stallman, Len Tower, and Paul Eggert.  Wayne Davison designed and
implemented the unified output format.  The basic algorithm is described
in "An O(ND) Difference Algorithm and its Variations", Eugene W. Myers,
`Algorithmica' Vol. 1 No. 2, 1986, pp. 251-266; and in "A File
Comparison Program", Webb Miller and Eugene W. Myers,
`Software--Practice and Experience' Vol. 15 No. 11, 1985, pp. 1025-1040.
The algorithm was independently discovered as described in "Algorithms
for Approximate String Matching", E. Ukkonen, `Information and Control'
Vol. 64, 1985, pp. 100-118.

   GNU `diff3' was written by Randy Smith.  GNU `sdiff' was written by
Thomas Lord.  GNU `cmp' was written by Torbjorn Granlund and David
MacKenzie.

   `patch' was written mainly by Larry Wall; the GNU enhancements were
written mainly by Wayne Davison and David MacKenzie.  Parts of this
manual are adapted from a manual page written by Larry Wall, with his
permission.


File: diff.info,  Node: Comparison,  Next: Output Formats,  Prev: Overview,  Up: Top

What Comparison Means
*********************

   There are several ways to think about the differences between two
files.  One way to think of the differences is as a series of lines
that were deleted from, inserted in, or changed in one file to produce
the other file.  `diff' compares two files line by line, finds groups of
lines that differ, and reports each group of differing lines.  It can
report the differing lines in several formats, which have different
purposes.

   GNU `diff' can show whether files are different without detailing
the differences.  It also provides ways to suppress certain kinds of
differences that are not important to you.  Most commonly, such
differences are changes in the amount of white space between words or
lines.  `diff' also provides ways to suppress differences in alphabetic
case or in lines that match a regular expression that you provide.
These options can accumulate; for example, you can ignore changes in
both white space and alphabetic case.

   Another way to think of the differences between two files is as a
sequence of pairs of characters that can be either identical or
different.  `cmp' reports the differences between two files character
by character, instead of line by line.  As a result, it is more useful
than `diff' for comparing binary files.  For text files, `cmp' is
useful mainly when you want to know only whether two files are
identical.

   To illustrate the effect that considering changes character by
character can have compared with considering them line by line, think
of what happens if a single newline character is added to the beginning
of a file.  If that file is then compared with an otherwise identical
file that lacks the newline at the beginning, `diff' will report that a
blank line has been added to the file, while `cmp' will report that
almost every character of the two files differs.

   `diff3' normally compares three input files line by line, finds
groups of lines that differ, and reports each group of differing lines.
Its output is designed to make it easy to inspect two different sets of
changes to the same file.

* Menu:

* Hunks::               Groups of differing lines.
* White Space::         Suppressing differences in white space.
* Blank Lines::         Suppressing differences in blank lines.
* Case Folding::        Suppressing differences in alphabetic case.
* Specified Folding::   Suppressing differences that match regular expressions.
* Brief::               Summarizing which files are different.
* Binary::              Comparing binary files or forcing text comparisons.


File: diff.info,  Node: Hunks,  Next: White Space,  Up: Comparison

Hunks
=====

   When comparing two files, `diff' finds sequences of lines common to
both files, interspersed with groups of differing lines called "hunks".
Comparing two identical files yields one sequence of common lines and
no hunks, because no lines differ.  Comparing two entirely different
files yields no common lines and one large hunk that contains all lines
of both files.  In general, there are many ways to match up lines
between two given files.  `diff' tries to minimize the total hunk size
by finding large sequences of common lines interspersed with small
hunks of differing lines.

   For example, suppose the file `F' contains the three lines `a', `b',
`c', and the file `G' contains the same three lines in reverse order
`c', `b', `a'.  If `diff' finds the line `c' as common, then the command
`diff F G' produces this output:

     1,2d0
     < a
     < b
     3a2,3
     > b
     > a

But if `diff' notices the common line `b' instead, it produces this
output:

     1c1
     < a
     ---
     > c
     3c3
     < c
     ---
     > a

It is also possible to find `a' as the common line.  `diff' does not
always find an optimal matching between the files; it takes shortcuts
to run faster.  But its output is usually close to the shortest
possible.  You can adjust this tradeoff with the `--minimal' option
(*note diff Performance::.).


File: diff.info,  Node: White Space,  Next: Blank Lines,  Prev: Hunks,  Up: Comparison

Suppressing Differences in Blank and Tab Spacing
================================================

   The `-b' and `--ignore-space-change' options ignore white space at
line end, and considers all other sequences of one or more white space
characters to be equivalent.  With these options, `diff' considers the
following two lines to be equivalent, where `$' denotes the line end:

     Here lyeth  muche rychnesse  in lytell space.   -- John Heywood$
     Here lyeth muche rychnesse in lytell space. -- John Heywood   $

   The `-w' and `--ignore-all-space' options are stronger than `-b'.
They ignore difference even if one file has white space where the other
file has none.  "White space" characters include tab, newline, vertical
tab, form feed, carriage return, and space; some locales may define
additional characters to be white space.  With these options, `diff'
considers the following two lines to be equivalent, where `$' denotes
the line end and `^M' denotes a carriage return:

     Here lyeth  muche  rychnesse in lytell space.--  John Heywood$
       He relyeth much erychnes  seinly tells pace.  --John Heywood   ^M$


File: diff.info,  Node: Blank Lines,  Next: Case Folding,  Prev: White Space,  Up: Comparison

Suppressing Differences in Blank Lines
======================================

   The `-B' and `--ignore-blank-lines' options ignore insertions or
deletions of blank lines.  These options normally affect only lines
that are completely empty; they do not affect lines that look empty but
contain space or tab characters.  With these options, for example, a
file containing
     1.  A point is that which has no part.
     
     2.  A line is breadthless length.
     -- Euclid, The Elements, I

is considered identical to a file containing
     1.  A point is that which has no part.
     2.  A line is breadthless length.
     
     
     -- Euclid, The Elements, I


File: diff.info,  Node: Case Folding,  Next: Specified Folding,  Prev: Blank Lines,  Up: Comparison

Suppressing Case Differences
============================

   GNU `diff' can treat lowercase letters as equivalent to their
uppercase counterparts, so that, for example, it considers `Funky
Stuff', `funky STUFF', and `fUNKy stuFf' to all be the same.  To
request this, use the `-i' or `--ignore-case' option.


File: diff.info,  Node: Specified Folding,  Next: Brief,  Prev: Case Folding,  Up: Comparison

Suppressing Lines Matching a Regular Expression
===============================================

   To ignore insertions and deletions of lines that match a regular
expression, use the `-I REGEXP' or `--ignore-matching-lines=REGEXP'
option.  You should escape regular expressions that contain shell
metacharacters to prevent the shell from expanding them.  For example,
`diff -I '^[0-9]'' ignores all changes to lines beginning with a digit.

   However, `-I' only ignores the insertion or deletion of lines that
contain the regular expression if every changed line in the hunk--every
insertion and every deletion--matches the regular expression.  In other
words, for each nonignorable change, `diff' prints the complete set of
changes in its vicinity, including the ignorable ones.

   You can specify more than one regular expression for lines to ignore
by using more than one `-I' option.  `diff' tries to match each line
against each regular expression, starting with the last one given.


File: diff.info,  Node: Brief,  Next: Binary,  Prev: Specified Folding,  Up: Comparison

Summarizing Which Files Differ
==============================

   When you only want to find out whether files are different, and you
don't care what the differences are, you can use the summary output
format.  In this format, instead of showing the differences between the
files, `diff' simply reports whether files differ.  The `-q' and
`--brief' options select this output format.

   This format is especially useful when comparing the contents of two
directories.  It is also much faster than doing the normal line by line
comparisons, because `diff' can stop analyzing the files as soon as it
knows that there are any differences.

   You can also get a brief indication of whether two files differ by
using `cmp'.  For files that are identical, `cmp' produces no output.
When the files differ, by default, `cmp' outputs the byte offset and
line number where the first difference occurs.  You can use the `-s'
option to suppress that information, so that `cmp' produces no output
and reports whether the files differ using only its exit status (*note
Invoking cmp::.).

   Unlike `diff', `cmp' cannot compare directories; it can only compare
two files.


File: diff.info,  Node: Binary,  Prev: Brief,  Up: Comparison

Binary Files and Forcing Text Comparisons
=========================================

   If `diff' thinks that either of the two files it is comparing is
binary (a non-text file), it normally treats that pair of files much as
if the summary output format had been selected (*note Brief::.), and
reports only that the binary files are different.  This is because line
by line comparisons are usually not meaningful for binary files.

   `diff' determines whether a file is text or binary by checking the
first few bytes in the file; the exact number of bytes is system
dependent, but it is typically several thousand.  If every character in
that part of the file is non-null, `diff' considers the file to be
text; otherwise it considers the file to be binary.

   Sometimes you might want to force `diff' to consider files to be
text.  For example, you might be comparing text files that contain null
characters; `diff' would erroneously decide that those are non-text
files.  Or you might be comparing documents that are in a format used
by a word processing system that uses null characters to indicate
special formatting.  You can force `diff' to consider all files to be
text files, and compare them line by line, by using the `-a' or
`--text' option.  If the files you compare using this option do not in
fact contain text, they will probably contain few newline characters,
and the `diff' output will consist of hunks showing differences between
long lines of whatever characters the files contain.

   You can also force `diff' to consider all files to be binary files,
and report only whether they differ (but not how).  Use the `--brief'
option for this.

   In operating systems that distinguish between text and binary files,
`diff' normally reads and writes all data as text.  Use the `--binary'
option to force `diff' to read and write binary data instead.  This
option has no effect on a Posix-compliant system like GNU or
traditional Unix.  However, many personal computer operating systems
represent the end of a line with a carriage return followed by a
newline.  On such systems, `diff' normally ignores these carriage
returns on input and generates them at the end of each output line, but
with the `--binary' option `diff' treats each carriage return as just
another input character, and does not generate a carriage return at the
end of each output line.  This can be useful when dealing with non-text
files that are meant to be interchanged with Posix-compliant systems.

   If you want to compare two files byte by byte, you can use the `cmp'
program with the `-l' option to show the values of each differing byte
in the two files.  With GNU `cmp', you can also use the `-c' option to
show the ASCII representation of those bytes.  *Note Invoking cmp::,
for more information.

   If `diff3' thinks that any of the files it is comparing is binary (a
non-text file), it normally reports an error, because such comparisons
are usually not useful.  `diff3' uses the same test as `diff' to decide
whether a file is binary.  As with `diff', if the input files contain a
few non-text characters but otherwise are like text files, you can
force `diff3' to consider all files to be text files and compare them
line by line by using the `-a' or `--text' options.


File: diff.info,  Node: Output Formats,  Next: Comparing Directories,  Prev: Comparison,  Up: Top

`diff' Output Formats
*********************

   `diff' has several mutually exclusive options for output format.
The following sections describe each format, illustrating how `diff'
reports the differences between two sample input files.

* Menu:

* Sample diff Input::   Sample `diff' input files for examples.
* Normal::              Showing differences without surrounding text.
* Context::             Showing differences with the surrounding text.
* Side by Side::        Showing differences in two columns.
* Scripts::             Generating scripts for other programs.
* If-then-else::        Merging files with if-then-else.


File: diff.info,  Node: Sample diff Input,  Next: Normal,  Up: Output Formats

Two Sample Input Files
======================

   Here are two sample files that we will use in numerous examples to
illustrate the output of `diff' and how various options can change it.

   This is the file `lao':

     The Way that can be told of is not the eternal Way;
     The name that can be named is not the eternal name.
     The Nameless is the origin of Heaven and Earth;
     The Named is the mother of all things.
     Therefore let there always be non-being,
       so we may see their subtlety,
     And let there always be being,
       so we may see their outcome.
     The two are the same,
     But after they are produced,
       they have different names.

   This is the file `tzu':

     The Nameless is the origin of Heaven and Earth;
     The named is the mother of all things.
     
     Therefore let there always be non-being,
       so we may see their subtlety,
     And let there always be being,
       so we may see their outcome.
     The two are the same,
     But after they are produced,
       they have different names.
     They both may be called deep and profound.
     Deeper and more profound,
     The door of all subtleties!

   In this example, the first hunk contains just the first two lines of
`lao', the second hunk contains the fourth line of `lao' opposing the
second and third lines of `tzu', and the last hunk contains just the
last three lines of `tzu'.


File: diff.info,  Node: Normal,  Next: Context,  Prev: Sample diff Input,  Up: Output Formats

Showing Differences Without Context
===================================

   The "normal" `diff' output format shows each hunk of differences
without any surrounding context.  Sometimes such output is the clearest
way to see how lines have changed, without the clutter of nearby
unchanged lines (although you can get similar results with the context
or unified formats by using 0 lines of context).  However, this format
is no longer widely used for sending out patches; for that purpose, the
context format (*note Context Format::.) and the unified format (*note
Unified Format::.) are superior.  Normal format is the default for
compatibility with older versions of `diff' and the Posix standard.

* Menu:

* Detailed Normal::     A detailed description of normal output format.
* Example Normal::      Sample output in the normal format.


File: diff.info,  Node: Detailed Normal,  Next: Example Normal,  Up: Normal

Detailed Description of Normal Format
-------------------------------------

   The normal output format consists of one or more hunks of
differences; each hunk shows one area where the files differ.  Normal
format hunks look like this:

     CHANGE-COMMAND
     < FROM-FILE-LINE
     < FROM-FILE-LINE...
     ---
     > TO-FILE-LINE
     > TO-FILE-LINE...

   There are three types of change commands.  Each consists of a line
number or comma-separated range of lines in the first file, a single
character indicating the kind of change to make, and a line number or
comma-separated range of lines in the second file.  All line numbers are
the original line numbers in each file.  The types of change commands
are:

`LaR'
     Add the lines in range R of the second file after line L of the
     first file.  For example, `8a12,15' means append lines 12-15 of
     file 2 after line 8 of file 1; or, if changing file 2 into file 1,
     delete lines 12-15 of file 2.

`FcT'
     Replace the lines in range F of the first file with lines in range
     T of the second file.  This is like a combined add and delete, but
     more compact.  For example, `5,7c8,10' means change lines 5-7 of
     file 1 to read as lines 8-10 of file 2; or, if changing file 2 into
     file 1, change lines 8-10 of file 2 to read as lines 5-7 of file 1.

`RdL'
     Delete the lines in range R from the first file; line L is where
     they would have appeared in the second file had they not been
     deleted.  For example, `5,7d3' means delete lines 5-7 of file 1;
     or, if changing file 2 into file 1, append lines 5-7 of file 1
     after line 3 of file 2.


File: diff.info,  Node: Example Normal,  Prev: Detailed Normal,  Up: Normal

An Example of Normal Format
---------------------------

   Here is the output of the command `diff lao tzu' (*note Sample diff
Input::., for the complete contents of the two files).  Notice that it
shows only the lines that are different between the two files.

     1,2d0
     < The Way that can be told of is not the eternal Way;
     < The name that can be named is not the eternal name.
     4c2,3
     < The Named is the mother of all things.
     ---
     > The named is the mother of all things.
     >
     11a11,13
     > They both may be called deep and profound.
     > Deeper and more profound,
     > The door of all subtleties!


File: diff.info,  Node: Context,  Next: Side by Side,  Prev: Normal,  Up: Output Formats

Showing Differences in Their Context
====================================

   Usually, when you are looking at the differences between files, you
will also want to see the parts of the files near the lines that
differ, to help you understand exactly what has changed.  These nearby
parts of the files are called the "context".

   GNU `diff' provides two output formats that show context around the
differing lines: "context format" and "unified format".  It can
optionally show in which function or section of the file the differing
lines are found.

   If you are distributing new versions of files to other people in the
form of `diff' output, you should use one of the output formats that
show context so that they can apply the diffs even if they have made
small changes of their own to the files.  `patch' can apply the diffs
in this case by searching in the files for the lines of context around
the differing lines; if those lines are actually a few lines away from
where the diff says they are, `patch' can adjust the line numbers
accordingly and still apply the diff correctly.  *Note Imperfect::, for
more information on using `patch' to apply imperfect diffs.

* Menu:

* Context Format::      An output format that shows surrounding lines.
* Unified Format::      A more compact output format that shows context.
* Sections::            Showing which sections of the files differences are in.
* Alternate Names::     Showing alternate file names in context headers.


File: diff.info,  Node: Context Format,  Next: Unified Format,  Up: Context

Context Format
--------------

   The context output format shows several lines of context around the
lines that differ.  It is the standard format for distributing updates
to source code.

   To select this output format, use the `-C LINES',
`--context[=LINES]', or `-c' option.  The argument LINES that some of
these options take is the number of lines of context to show.  If you
do not specify LINES, it defaults to three.  For proper operation,
`patch' typically needs at least two lines of context.

* Menu:

* Detailed Context::    A detailed description of the context output format.
* Example Context::     Sample output in context format.
* Less Context::        Another sample with less context.


File: diff.info,  Node: Detailed Context,  Next: Example Context,  Up: Context Format

Detailed Description of Context Format
......................................

   The context output format starts with a two-line header, which looks
like this:

     *** FROM-FILE FROM-FILE-MODIFICATION-TIME
     --- TO-FILE TO-FILE-MODIFICATION TIME

You can change the header's content with the `-L LABEL' or
`--label=LABEL' option; see *Note Alternate Names::.

   Next come one or more hunks of differences; each hunk shows one area
where the files differ.  Context format hunks look like this:

     ***************
     *** FROM-FILE-LINE-RANGE ****
       FROM-FILE-LINE
       FROM-FILE-LINE...
     --- TO-FILE-LINE-RANGE ----
       TO-FILE-LINE
       TO-FILE-LINE...

   The lines of context around the lines that differ start with two
space characters.  The lines that differ between the two files start
with one of the following indicator characters, followed by a space
character:

`!'
     A line that is part of a group of one or more lines that changed
     between the two files.  There is a corresponding group of lines
     marked with `!' in the part of this hunk for the other file.

`+'
     An "inserted" line in the second file that corresponds to nothing
     in the first file.

`-'
     A "deleted" line in the first file that corresponds to nothing in
     the second file.

   If all of the changes in a hunk are insertions, the lines of
FROM-FILE are omitted.  If all of the changes are deletions, the lines
of TO-FILE are omitted.


File: diff.info,  Node: Example Context,  Next: Less Context,  Prev: Detailed Context,  Up: Context Format

An Example of Context Format
............................

   Here is the output of `diff -c lao tzu' (*note Sample diff Input::.,
for the complete contents of the two files).  Notice that up to three
lines that are not different are shown around each line that is
different; they are the context lines.  Also notice that the first two
hunks have run together, because their contents overlap.

     *** lao    Sat Jan 26 23:30:39 1991
     --- tzu    Sat Jan 26 23:30:50 1991
     ***************
     *** 1,7 ****
     - The Way that can be told of is not the eternal Way;
     - The name that can be named is not the eternal name.
       The Nameless is the origin of Heaven and Earth;
     ! The Named is the mother of all things.
       Therefore let there always be non-being,
         so we may see their subtlety,
       And let there always be being,
     --- 1,6 ----
       The Nameless is the origin of Heaven and Earth;
     ! The named is the mother of all things.
     !
       Therefore let there always be non-being,
         so we may see their subtlety,
       And let there always be being,
     ***************
     *** 9,11 ****
     --- 8,13 ----
       The two are the same,
       But after they are produced,
         they have different names.
     + They both may be called deep and profound.
     + Deeper and more profound,
     + The door of all subtleties!


File: diff.info,  Node: Less Context,  Prev: Example Context,  Up: Context Format

An Example of Context Format with Less Context
..............................................

   Here is the output of `diff --context=1 lao tzu' (*note Sample diff
Input::., for the complete contents of the two files).  Notice that at
most one context line is reported here.

     *** lao    Sat Jan 26 23:30:39 1991
     --- tzu    Sat Jan 26 23:30:50 1991
     ***************
     *** 1,5 ****
     - The Way that can be told of is not the eternal Way;
     - The name that can be named is not the eternal name.
       The Nameless is the origin of Heaven and Earth;
     ! The Named is the mother of all things.
       Therefore let there always be non-being,
     --- 1,4 ----
       The Nameless is the origin of Heaven and Earth;
     ! The named is the mother of all things.
     !
       Therefore let there always be non-being,
     ***************
     *** 11 ****
     --- 10,13 ----
         they have different names.
     + They both may be called deep and profound.
     + Deeper and more profound,
     + The door of all subtleties!


File: diff.info,  Node: Unified Format,  Next: Sections,  Prev: Context Format,  Up: Context

Unified Format
--------------

   The unified output format is a variation on the context format that
is more compact because it omits redundant context lines.  To select
this output format, use the `-U LINES', `--unified[=LINES]', or `-u'
option.  The argument LINES is the number of lines of context to show.
When it is not given, it defaults to three.

   At present, only GNU `diff' can produce this format and only GNU
`patch' can automatically apply diffs in this format.  For proper
operation, `patch' typically needs at least two lines of context.

* Menu:

* Detailed Unified::    A detailed description of unified format.
* Example Unified::     Sample output in unified format.


File: diff.info,  Node: Detailed Unified,  Next: Example Unified,  Up: Unified Format

Detailed Description of Unified Format
......................................

   The unified output format starts with a two-line header, which looks
like this:

     --- FROM-FILE FROM-FILE-MODIFICATION-TIME
     +++ TO-FILE TO-FILE-MODIFICATION-TIME

You can change the header's content with the `-L LABEL' or
`--label=LABEL' option; see *Note Alternate Names::.

   Next come one or more hunks of differences; each hunk shows one area
where the files differ.  Unified format hunks look like this:

     @@ FROM-FILE-RANGE TO-FILE-RANGE @@
      LINE-FROM-EITHER-FILE
      LINE-FROM-EITHER-FILE...

   The lines common to both files begin with a space character.  The
lines that actually differ between the two files have one of the
following indicator characters in the left column:

`+'
     A line was added here to the first file.

`-'
     A line was removed here from the first file.


File: diff.info,  Node: Example Unified,  Prev: Detailed Unified,  Up: Unified Format

An Example of Unified Format
............................

   Here is the output of the command `diff -u lao tzu' (*note Sample
diff Input::., for the complete contents of the two files):

     --- lao    Sat Jan 26 23:30:39 1991
     +++ tzu    Sat Jan 26 23:30:50 1991
     @@ -1,7 +1,6 @@
     -The Way that can be told of is not the eternal Way;
     -The name that can be named is not the eternal name.
      The Nameless is the origin of Heaven and Earth;
     -The Named is the mother of all things.
     +The named is the mother of all things.
     +
      Therefore let there always be non-being,
        so we may see their subtlety,
      And let there always be being,
     @@ -9,3 +8,6 @@
      The two are the same,
      But after they are produced,
        they have different names.
     +They both may be called deep and profound.
     +Deeper and more profound,
     +The door of all subtleties!


File: diff.info,  Node: Sections,  Next: Alternate Names,  Prev: Unified Format,  Up: Context

Showing Which Sections Differences Are in
-----------------------------------------

   Sometimes you might want to know which part of the files each change
falls in.  If the files are source code, this could mean which function
was changed.  If the files are documents, it could mean which chapter or
appendix was changed.  GNU `diff' can show this by displaying the
nearest section heading line that precedes the differing lines.  Which
lines are "section headings" is determined by a regular expression.

* Menu:

* Specified Headings::  Showing headings that match regular expressions.
* C Function Headings:: Showing headings of C functions.


File: diff.info,  Node: Specified Headings,  Next: C Function Headings,  Up: Sections

Showing Lines That Match Regular Expressions
............................................

   To show in which sections differences occur for files that are not
source code for C or similar languages, use the `-F REGEXP' or
`--show-function-line=REGEXP' option.  `diff' considers lines that
match the argument REGEXP to be the beginning of a section of the file.
Here are suggested regular expressions for some common languages:

`^[A-Za-z_]'
     C, C++, Prolog

`^('
     Lisp

`^@\(chapter\|appendix\|unnumbered\|chapheading\)'
     Texinfo

   This option does not automatically select an output format; in order
to use it, you must select the context format (*note Context Format::.)
or unified format (*note Unified Format::.).  In other output formats it
has no effect.

   The `-F' and `--show-function-line' options find the nearest
unchanged line that precedes each hunk of differences and matches the
given regular expression.  Then they add that line to the end of the
line of asterisks in the context format, or to the `@@' line in unified
format.  If no matching line exists, they leave the output for that
hunk unchanged.  If that line is more than 40 characters long, they
output only the first 40 characters.  You can specify more than one
regular expression for such lines; `diff' tries to match each line
against each regular expression, starting with the last one given.  This
means that you can use `-p' and `-F' together, if you wish.


File: diff.info,  Node: C Function Headings,  Prev: Specified Headings,  Up: Sections

Showing C Function Headings
...........................

   To show in which functions differences occur for C and similar
languages, you can use the `-p' or `--show-c-function' option.  This
option automatically defaults to the context output format (*note
Context Format::.), with the default number of lines of context.  You
can override that number with `-C LINES' elsewhere in the command line.
You can override both the format and the number with `-U LINES'
elsewhere in the command line.

   The `-p' and `--show-c-function' options are equivalent to
`-F'^[_a-zA-Z$]'' if the unified format is specified, otherwise `-c
-F'^[_a-zA-Z$]'' (*note Specified Headings::.).  GNU `diff' provides
them for the sake of convenience.


File: diff.info,  Node: Alternate Names,  Prev: Sections,  Up: Context

Showing Alternate File Names
----------------------------

   If you are comparing two files that have meaningless or uninformative
names, you might want `diff' to show alternate names in the header of
the context and unified output formats.  To do this, use the `-L LABEL'
or `--label=LABEL' option.  The first time you give this option, its
argument replaces the name and date of the first file in the header;
the second time, its argument replaces the name and date of the second
file.  If you give this option more than twice, `diff' reports an
error.  The `-L' option does not affect the file names in the `pr'
header when the `-l' or `--paginate' option is used (*note
Pagination::.).

   Here are the first two lines of the output from `diff -C2 -Loriginal
-Lmodified lao tzu':

     *** original
     --- modified


File: diff.info,  Node: Side by Side,  Next: Scripts,  Prev: Context,  Up: Output Formats

Showing Differences Side by Side
================================

   `diff' can produce a side by side difference listing of two files.
The files are listed in two columns with a gutter between them.  The
gutter contains one of the following markers:

white space
     The corresponding lines are in common.  That is, either the lines
     are identical, or the difference is ignored because of one of the
     `--ignore' options (*note White Space::.).

`|'
     The corresponding lines differ, and they are either both complete
     or both incomplete.

`<'
     The files differ and only the first file contains the line.

`>'
     The files differ and only the second file contains the line.

`('
     Only the first file contains the line, but the difference is
     ignored.

`)'
     Only the second file contains the line, but the difference is
     ignored.

`\'
     The corresponding lines differ, and only the first line is
     incomplete.

`/'
     The corresponding lines differ, and only the second line is
     incomplete.

   Normally, an output line is incomplete if and only if the lines that
it contains are incomplete; *Note Incomplete Lines::.  However, when an
output line represents two differing lines, one might be incomplete
while the other is not.  In this case, the output line is complete, but
its the gutter is marked `\' if the first line is incomplete, `/' if
the second line is.

   Side by side format is sometimes easiest to read, but it has
limitations.  It generates much wider output than usual, and truncates
lines that are too long to fit.  Also, it relies on lining up output
more heavily than usual, so its output looks particularly bad if you
use varying width fonts, nonstandard tab stops, or nonprinting
characters.

   You can use the `sdiff' command to interactively merge side by side
differences.  *Note Interactive Merging::, for more information on
merging files.

* Menu:

* Side by Side Format::         Controlling side by side output format.
* Example Side by Side::        Sample side by side output.


File: diff.info,  Node: Side by Side Format,  Next: Example Side by Side,  Up: Side by Side

Controlling Side by Side Format
===============================

   The `-y' or `--side-by-side' option selects side by side format.
Because side by side output lines contain two input lines, they are
wider than usual.  They are normally 130 columns, which can fit onto a
traditional printer line.  You can set the length of output lines with
the `-W COLUMNS' or `--width=COLUMNS' option.  The output line is split
into two halves of equal length, separated by a small gutter to mark
differences; the right half is aligned to a tab stop so that tabs line
up.  Input lines that are too long to fit in half of an output line are
truncated for output.

   The `--left-column' option prints only the left column of two common
lines.  The `--suppress-common-lines' option suppresses common lines
entirely.


File: diff.info,  Node: Example Side by Side,  Prev: Side by Side Format,  Up: Side by Side

An Example of Side by Side Format
---------------------------------

   Here is the output of the command `diff -y -W 72 lao tzu' (*note
Sample diff Input::., for the complete contents of the two files).

     The Way that can be told of is n   <
     The name that can be named is no   <
     The Nameless is the origin of He        The Nameless is the origin of He
     The Named is the mother of all t   |    The named is the mother of all t
                                        >
     Therefore let there always be no        Therefore let there always be no
       so we may see their subtlety,           so we may see their subtlety,
     And let there always be being,          And let there always be being,
       so we may see their outcome.            so we may see their outcome.
     The two are the same,                   The two are the same,
     But after they are produced,            But after they are produced,
       they have different names.              they have different names.
                                        >    They both may be called deep and
                                        >    Deeper and more profound,
                                        >    The door of all subtleties!


File: diff.info,  Node: Scripts,  Next: If-then-else,  Prev: Side by Side,  Up: Output Formats

Making Edit Scripts
===================

   Several output modes produce command scripts for editing FROM-FILE
to produce TO-FILE.

* Menu:

* ed Scripts::          Using `diff' to produce commands for `ed'.
* Forward ed::          Making forward `ed' scripts.
* RCS::                 A special `diff' output format used by RCS.


File: diff.info,  Node: ed Scripts,  Next: Forward ed,  Up: Scripts

`ed' Scripts
------------

   `diff' can produce commands that direct the `ed' text editor to
change the first file into the second file.  Long ago, this was the
only output mode that was suitable for editing one file into another
automatically; today, with `patch', it is almost obsolete.  Use the
`-e' or `--ed' option to select this output format.

   Like the normal format (*note Normal::.), this output format does not
show any context; unlike the normal format, it does not include the
information necessary to apply the diff in reverse (to produce the first
file if all you have is the second file and the diff).

   If the file `d' contains the output of `diff -e old new', then the
command `(cat d && echo w) | ed - old' edits `old' to make it a copy of
`new'.  More generally, if `d1', `d2', ..., `dN' contain the outputs of
`diff -e old new1', `diff -e new1 new2', ..., `diff -e newN-1 newN',
respectively, then the command `(cat d1 d2 ... dN && echo w) | ed -
old' edits `old' to make it a copy of `newN'.

* Menu:

* Detailed ed::         A detailed description of `ed' format.
* Example ed::          A sample `ed' script.


File: diff.info,  Node: Detailed ed,  Next: Example ed,  Up: ed Scripts

Detailed Description of `ed' Format
...................................

   The `ed' output format consists of one or more hunks of differences.
The changes closest to the ends of the files come first so that
commands that change the number of lines do not affect how `ed'
interprets line numbers in succeeding commands.  `ed' format hunks look
like this:

     CHANGE-COMMAND
     TO-FILE-LINE
     TO-FILE-LINE...
     .

   Because `ed' uses a single period on a line to indicate the end of
input, GNU `diff' protects lines of changes that contain a single
period on a line by writing two periods instead, then writing a
subsequent `ed' command to change the two periods into one.  The `ed'
format cannot represent an incomplete line, so if the second file ends
in a changed incomplete line, `diff' reports an error and then pretends
that a newline was appended.

   There are three types of change commands.  Each consists of a line
number or comma-separated range of lines in the first file and a single
character indicating the kind of change to make.  All line numbers are
the original line numbers in the file.  The types of change commands
are:

`La'
     Add text from the second file after line L in the first file.  For
     example, `8a' means to add the following lines after line 8 of file
     1.

`Rc'
     Replace the lines in range R in the first file with the following
     lines.  Like a combined add and delete, but more compact.  For
     example, `5,7c' means change lines 5-7 of file 1 to read as the
     text file 2.

`Rd'
     Delete the lines in range R from the first file.  For example,
     `5,7d' means delete lines 5-7 of file 1.


File: diff.info,  Node: Example ed,  Prev: Detailed ed,  Up: ed Scripts

Example `ed' Script
...................

   Here is the output of `diff -e lao tzu' (*note Sample diff Input::.,
for the complete contents of the two files):

     11a
     They both may be called deep and profound.
     Deeper and more profound,
     The door of all subtleties!
     .
     4c
     The named is the mother of all things.
     
     .
     1,2d


File: diff.info,  Node: Forward ed,  Next: RCS,  Prev: ed Scripts,  Up: Scripts

Forward `ed' Scripts
--------------------

   `diff' can produce output that is like an `ed' script, but with
hunks in forward (front to back) order.  The format of the commands is
also changed slightly: command characters precede the lines they
modify, spaces separate line numbers in ranges, and no attempt is made
to disambiguate hunk lines consisting of a single period.  Like `ed'
format, forward `ed' format cannot represent incomplete lines.

   Forward `ed' format is not very useful, because neither `ed' nor
`patch' can apply diffs in this format.  It exists mainly for
compatibility with older versions of `diff'.  Use the `-f' or
`--forward-ed' option to select it.


File: diff.info,  Node: RCS,  Prev: Forward ed,  Up: Scripts

RCS Scripts
-----------

   The RCS output format is designed specifically for use by the
Revision Control System, which is a set of free programs used for
organizing different versions and systems of files.  Use the `-n' or
`--rcs' option to select this output format.  It is like the forward
`ed' format (*note Forward ed::.), but it can represent arbitrary
changes to the contents of a file because it avoids the forward `ed'
format's problems with lines consisting of a single period and with
incomplete lines.  Instead of ending text sections with a line
consisting of a single period, each command specifies the number of
lines it affects; a combination of the `a' and `d' commands are used
instead of `c'.  Also, if the second file ends in a changed incomplete
line, then the output also ends in an incomplete line.

   Here is the output of `diff -n lao tzu' (*note Sample diff Input::.,
for the complete contents of the two files):

     d1 2
     d4 1
     a4 2
     The named is the mother of all things.
     
     a11 3
     They both may be called deep and profound.
     Deeper and more profound,
     The door of all subtleties!


File: diff.info,  Node: If-then-else,  Prev: Scripts,  Up: Output Formats

Merging Files with If-then-else
===============================

   You can use `diff' to merge two files of C source code.  The output
of `diff' in this format contains all the lines of both files.  Lines
common to both files are output just once; the differing parts are
separated by the C preprocessor directives `#ifdef NAME' or `#ifndef
NAME', `#else', and `#endif'.  When compiling the output, you select
which version to use by either defining or leaving undefined the macro
NAME.

   To merge two files, use `diff' with the `-D NAME' or `--ifdef=NAME'
option.  The argument NAME is the C preprocessor identifier to use in
the `#ifdef' and `#ifndef' directives.

   For example, if you change an instance of `wait (&s)' to `waitpid
(-1, &s, 0)' and then merge the old and new files with the
`--ifdef=HAVE_WAITPID' option, then the affected part of your code
might look like this:

         do {
     #ifndef HAVE_WAITPID
             if ((w = wait (&s)) < 0  &&  errno != EINTR)
     #else /* HAVE_WAITPID */
             if ((w = waitpid (-1, &s, 0)) < 0  &&  errno != EINTR)
     #endif /* HAVE_WAITPID */
                 return w;
         } while (w != child);

   You can specify formats for languages other than C by using line
group formats and line formats, as described in the next sections.

* Menu:

* Line Group Formats::          Formats for general if-then-else line groups.
* Line Formats::                Formats for each line in a line group.
* Detailed If-then-else::       A detailed description of if-then-else format.
* Example If-then-else::        Sample if-then-else format output.