Vim documentation: diff

main help file
*diff.txt*      For Vim version 7.2.  Last change: 2008 Jul 21


		  VIM REFERENCE MANUAL    by Bram Moolenaar



				*diff* *vimdiff* *gvimdiff* *diff-mode*
This file describes the +diff feature: Showing differences between two,
three or four versions of the same file.

The basics are explained in section |08.7| of the user manual.

1. Starting diff mode		|vimdiff|
2. Viewing diffs		|view-diffs|
3. Jumping to diffs		|jumpto-diffs|
4. Copying diffs		|copy-diffs|
5. Diff options			|diff-options|

{not in Vi}


1. Starting diff mode The easiest way to start editing in diff mode is with the "vimdiff" command. This starts Vim as usual, and additionally sets up for viewing the differences between the arguments. vimdiff file1 file2 [file3 [file4]] This is equivalent to: vim -d file1 file2 [file3 [file4]] You may also use "gvimdiff" or "vim -d -g". The GUI is started then. You may also use "viewdiff" or "gviewdiff". Vim starts in readonly mode then. "r" may be prepended for restricted mode (see |-Z|). The second and following arguments may also be a directory name. Vim will then append the file name of the first argument to the directory name to find the file. This only works when a standard "diff" command is available. See 'diffexpr'. Diffs are local to the current tab page |tab-page|. You can't see diffs with a window in another tab page. This does make it possible to have several diffs at the same time, each in their own tab page. What happens is that Vim opens a window for each of the files. This is like using the |-O| argument. This uses vertical splits. If you prefer horizontal splits add the |-o| argument: vimdiff -o file1 file2 [file3 [file4]] If you always prefer horizontal splits include "horizontal" in 'diffopt'. In each of the edited files these options are set: 'diff' on 'scrollbind' on 'scrollopt' includes "hor" 'wrap' off 'foldmethod' "diff" 'foldcolumn' value from 'diffopt', default is 2 These options are set local to the window. When editing another file they are reset to the global value. The differences shown are actually the differences in the buffer. Thus if you make changes after loading a file, these will be included in the displayed diffs. You might have to do ":diffupdate" now and then, not all changes are immediately taken into account. In your .vimrc file you could do something special when Vim was started in diff mode. You could use a construct like this: if &diff setup for diff mode else setup for non-diff mode endif While already in Vim you can start diff mode in three ways. *E98* :diffsplit {filename} *:diffs* *:diffsplit* Open a new window on the file {filename}. The options are set as for "vimdiff" for the current and the newly opened window. Also see 'diffexpr'. *:difft* *:diffthis* :diffthis Make the current window part of the diff windows. This sets the options like for "vimdiff". :diffpatch {patchfile} *:diffp* *:diffpatch* Use the current buffer, patch it with the diff found in {patchfile} and open a buffer on the result. The options are set as for "vimdiff". {patchfile} can be in any format that the "patch" program understands or 'patchexpr' can handle. Note that {patchfile} should only contain a diff for one file, the current file. If {patchfile} contains diffs for other files as well, the results are unpredictable. Vim changes directory to /tmp to avoid files in the current directory accidentally being patched. But it may still result in various ".rej" files to be created. And when absolute path names are present these files may get patched anyway. To make these commands use a vertical split, prepend |:vertical|. Examples: :vert diffsplit main.c~ :vert diffpatch /tmp/diff If you always prefer a vertical split include "vertical" in 'diffopt'. *E96* There can be up to four buffers with 'diff' set. Since the option values are remembered with the buffer, you can edit another file for a moment and come back to the same file and be in diff mode again. *:diffo* *:diffoff* :diffoff Switch off diff mode for the current window. :diffoff! Switch off diff mode for all windows in the current tab page. The ":diffoff" command resets the relevant options to their default value. This may be different from what the values were before diff mode was started, the old values are not remembered. 'diff' off 'scrollbind' off 'scrollopt' without "hor" 'wrap' on 'foldmethod' "manual" 'foldcolumn' 0
2. Viewing diffs *view-diffs* The effect is that the diff windows show the same text, with the differences highlighted. When scrolling the text, the 'scrollbind' option will make the text in other windows to be scrolled as well. With vertical splits the text should be aligned properly. The alignment of text will go wrong when: - 'wrap' is on, some lines will be wrapped and occupy two or more screen lines - folds are open in one window but not another - 'scrollbind' is off - changes have been made to the text - "filler" is not present in 'diffopt', deleted/inserted lines makes the alignment go wrong All the buffers edited in a window where the 'diff' option is set will join in the diff. This is also possible for hidden buffers. They must have been edited in a window first for this to be possible. *:DiffOrig* *diff-original-file* Since 'diff' is a window-local option, it's possible to view the same buffer in diff mode in one window and "normal" in another window. It is also possible to view the changes you have made to a buffer since the file was loaded. Since Vim doesn't allow having two buffers for the same file, you need another buffer. This command is useful: command DiffOrig vert new | set bt=nofile | r # | 0d_ | diffthis \ | wincmd p | diffthis (this is in |vimrc_example.vim|). Use ":DiffOrig" to see the differences between the current buffer and the file it was loaded from. A buffer that is unloaded cannot be used for the diff. But it does work for hidden buffers. You can use ":hide" to close a window without unloading the buffer. If you don't want a buffer to remain used for the diff do ":set nodiff" before hiding it. *:diffu* *:diffupdate* :diffu[pdate] Update the diff highlighting and folds. Vim attempts to keep the differences updated when you make changes to the text. This mostly takes care of inserted and deleted lines. Changes within a line and more complicated changes do not cause the differences to be updated. To force the differences to be updated use: :diffupdate Vim will show filler lines for lines that are missing in one window but are present in another. These lines were inserted in another file or deleted in this file. Removing "filler" from the 'diffopt' option will make Vim not display these filler lines. Folds are used to hide the text that wasn't changed. See |folding| for all the commands that can be used with folds. The context of lines above a difference that are not included in the fold can be set with the 'diffopt' option. For example, to set the context to three lines: :set diffopt=filler,context:3 The diffs are highlighted with these groups: |hl-DiffAdd| DiffAdd Added (inserted) lines. These lines exist in this buffer but not in another. |hl-DiffChange| DiffChange Changed lines. |hl-DiffText| DiffText Changed text inside a Changed line. Vim finds the first character that is different, and the last character that is different (searching from the end of the line). The text in between is highlighted. This means that parts in the middle that are still the same are highlighted anyway. Only "iwhite" of 'diffopt' is used here. |hl-DiffDelete| DiffDelete Deleted lines. Also called filler lines, because they don't really exist in this buffer.
3. Jumping to diffs *jumpto-diffs* Two commands can be used to jump to diffs: *[c* [c Jump backwards to the previous start of a change. When a count is used, do it that many times. *]c* ]c Jump forwards to the next start of a change. When a count is used, do it that many times. It is an error if there is no change for the cursor to move to.
4. Diff copying *copy-diffs* *E99* *E100* *E101* *E102* *E103* *merge* There are two commands to copy text from one buffer to another. The result is that the buffers will be equal within the specified range. *:diffg* *:diffget* :[range]diffg[et] [bufspec] Modify the current buffer to undo difference with another buffer. If [bufspec] is given, that buffer is used. Otherwise this only works if there is one other buffer in diff mode. See below for [range]. *:diffpu* *:diffput* *E793* :[range]diffpu[t] [bufspec] Modify another buffer to undo difference with the current buffer. Just like ":diffget" but the other buffer is modified instead of the current one. When [bufspec] is omitted and there is more than one other buffer in diff mode where 'modifiable' is set this fails. See below for [range]. *do* do Same as ":diffget" without argument or range. The "o" stands for "obtain" ("dg" can't be used, it could be the start of "dgg"!). *dp* dp Same as ":diffput" without argument or range. When no [range] is given, the diff at the cursor position or just above it is affected. When [range] is used, Vim tries to only put or get the specified lines. When there are deleted lines, this may not always be possible. There can be deleted lines below the last line of the buffer. When the cursor is on the last line in the buffer and there is no diff above this line, the ":diffget" and "do" commands will obtain lines from the other buffer. To be able to get those lines from another buffer in a [range] it's allowed to use the last line number plus one. This command gets all diffs from the other buffer: :1,$+1diffget Note that deleted lines are displayed, but not counted as text lines. You can't move the cursor into them. To fill the deleted lines with the lines from another buffer use ":diffget" on the line below them. *E787* When the buffer that is about to be modified is read-only and the autocommand that is triggered by |FileChangedRO| changes buffers the command will fail. The autocommand must not change buffers. The [bufspec] argument above can be a buffer number, a pattern for a buffer name or a part of a buffer name. Examples: :diffget Use the other buffer which is in diff mode :diffget 3 Use buffer 3 :diffget v2 Use the buffer which matches "v2" and is in diff mode (e.g., "file.c.v2")
5. Diff options *diff-options* Also see |'diffopt'| and the "diff" item of |'fillchars'|. FINDING THE DIFFERENCES *diff-diffexpr* The 'diffexpr' option can be set to use something else than the standard "diff" program to compare two files and find the differences. When 'diffexpr' is empty, Vim uses this command to find the differences between file1 and file2: diff file1 file2 > outfile The ">" is replaced with the value of 'shellredir'. The output of "diff" must be a normal "ed" style diff. Do NOT use a context diff. This example explains the format that Vim expects: 1a2 > bbb 4d4 < 111 7c7 < GGG --- > ggg The "1a2" item appends the line "bbb". The "4d4" item deletes the line "111". The '7c7" item replaces the line "GGG" with "ggg". When 'diffexpr' is not empty, Vim evaluates to obtain a diff file in the format mentioned. These variables are set to the file names used: v:fname_in original file v:fname_new new version of the same file v:fname_out resulting diff file Additionally, 'diffexpr' should take care of "icase" and "iwhite" in the 'diffopt' option. 'diffexpr' cannot change the value of 'lines' and 'columns'. Example (this does almost the same as 'diffexpr' being empty): set diffexpr=MyDiff() function MyDiff() let opt = "" if &diffopt =~ "icase" let opt = opt . "-i " endif if &diffopt =~ "iwhite" let opt = opt . "-b " endif silent execute "!diff -a --binary " . opt . v:fname_in . " " . v:fname_new . \ " > " . v:fname_out endfunction The "-a" argument is used to force comparing the files as text, comparing as binaries isn't useful. The "--binary" argument makes the files read in binary mode, so that a CTRL-Z doesn't end the text on DOS. *E97* Vim will do a test if the diff output looks alright. If it doesn't, you will get an error message. Possible causes: - The "diff" program cannot be executed. - The "diff" program doesn't produce normal "ed" style diffs (see above). - The 'shell' and associated options are not set correctly. Try if filtering works with a command like ":!sort". - You are using 'diffexpr' and it doesn't work. If it's not clear what the problem is set the 'verbose' option to one or more to see more messages. The self-installing Vim includes a diff program. If you don't have it you might want to download a diff.exe. For example from http://jlb.twu.net/code/unixkit.php. USING PATCHES *diff-patchexpr* The 'patchexpr' option can be set to use something else than the standard "patch" program. When 'patchexpr' is empty, Vim will call the "patch" program like this: patch -o outfile origfile < patchfile This should work fine with most versions of the "patch" program. Note that a CR in the middle of a line may cause problems, it is seen as a line break. If the default doesn't work for you, set the 'patchexpr' to an expression that will have the same effect. These variables are set to the file names used: v:fname_in original file v:fname_diff patch file v:fname_out resulting patched file Example (this does the same as 'patchexpr' being empty): set patchexpr=MyPatch() function MyPatch() :call system("patch -o " . v:fname_out . " " . v:fname_in . \ " < " . v:fname_diff) endfunction Make sure that using the "patch" program doesn't have unwanted side effects. For example, watch out for additionally generated files, which should be deleted. It should just patch the file and nothing else. Vim will change directory to "/tmp" or another temp directory before evaluating 'patchexpr'. This hopefully avoids that files in the current directory are accidentally patched. Vim will also delete files starting with v:fname_in and ending in ".rej" and ".orig". top - main help file