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PhpWiki has the most beautiful diff display. The key feature is that is uses unified diffs ala "diff -u". I find unified diffs much more useful for human readers. I'd love to see this feature in UseModWiki.


I've wanted for some time to make diffs more understandable to nonprogrammers. One of the clearest, most intuitive displays I've seen is cvsweb. It will give you color-coded, side-by-side comparisons of two versions of a page. (It's interesting to see a screenshot of Xanadu in this respect, because the two have similarities, but I digress).

Since you are using diff to do the comparisons, diff -y would give you side by side comparisons, and the regexps to turn this into color coded comparisons shouldn't be hard. Since the number of people in this world who understand ed commands (which diff's output is/can be compliant with) probably numbers only in the thousands, if not the hundreds, things like Changed: 1c1,9 serve only to confuse the user.

Another possibility is diff | ediff if you have ediff in stalled (it's billed as a "diff to English translator," and I found it in O'Reilly's Unix Power Tools.


I'm probably going to change the diff output to be more readable: "Changed: 1c1,9" might become "Changed line 1 into lines 1-9", with similar rewording for other diffs.

Another future possibility is something like the Why:GoldBar differences, which is a very pretty change bar implementation. This wouldn't work well with some browsers (especially text-only), so it would definitely be a user option. --CliffordAdams

Also consider [GNU wdiff]. This is a word-based (as opposed to line-based) diff frontend. Thus it can be used in either a Wiki:QuickDiff or Why:GoldBar display to highlight only the changed portion of a large paragraph. The [wdiff manual] has some cute examples of parsing the output.

I definately like the Why:GoldBar idea and the side-by-side diffs! I'm a programmer and I know diff quite well, but I still feel this is a much better solution for WIKI. Any chance it will be included in the next release? -- EvanLanglois (aka MeatBall:EvanLanglois).

Sorry, the next release (0.98 for early 2003) is "frozen"--no new features will be accepted. I also think the "gold bar" feature is unlikely to be in 1.0, unless someone else codes it. (My main concerns are documentation and integrating existing patches, rather than new features.) --CliffordAdams

Over at the UnrealWiki, we have replaced UseMod's built-in diff output by a Perl-driven word-by-word diff and a WikiPedia-style format of displaying the old and the new page version side by side. Some details about the display are user-configurable on the prefs page (color background or strike through/underline markup of deleted/added text, and display of paragraph marks la Microsoft Word and other word processors). If there's interest, I'll see that I make it available on WikiPatches. --MichaelBuschbeck

As Netscape 4.x has serious issues with CSS (MeatBall:NetscapeMustDie), it's advisable for Netscape 4.x users to enable the "Use underline/strike through formatting for added/deleted text" option on the Preferences page. --MichaelBuschbeck

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Last edited October 8, 2006 4:55 pm by MarkusLude (diff)