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xmerge.c: "diff3 -m" style clips merge reduction level to EAGER or less

When showing a conflicting merge result, and "--diff3 -m" style is asked
for, this patch makes sure that the merge reduction level does not exceed
XDL_MERGE_EAGER.  This is because "diff3 -m" style output would not make
sense for anything more aggressive than XDL_MERGE_EAGER, because of the
way how the merge reduction works.

"git merge-file" no longer has to force MERGE_EAGER when "--diff3" is
asked for because of this change.

Suppose a common ancestor (shared preimage) is modified to postimage #1
and #2 (each letter represents one line):

    postimage#1: 1234ABCDE789
                    |    /
                    |   /
    preimage:    123456789
                    |   \
    postimage#2: 1234AXYE789


 (1) find the s/56/ABCDE/ done on one side and s/56/AXYE/ done on the
     other side,

 (2) notice that they touch an overlapping area, and

 (3) mark it as a conflict, "ABCDE vs AXYE".

The difference between the two algorithms is that EAGER drops the hunk
altogether if the postimages match (i.e. both sides modified the same
way), while MINIMAL keeps it.  There is no other operation performed to
the hunk.  As the result, lines marked with "#" in the above picure will
be in the RCS merge style output like this (letters <, = and > represent
conflict marker lines):

    output:      1234<ABCDE=AXYE>789    ; with MINIMAL/EAGER

The part from the preimage that corresponds to these conflicting changes
is "56", which is what "diff3 -m" style output adds to it:

    output:      1234<ABCDE|56=AXYE>789 ; in "diff3 -m" style

Now, XDL_MERGE_ZEALOUS looks at the differences between the changes two
postimages made in order to reduce the number of lines in the conflicting
regions.  It notices that both sides start their new contents with "A",
and excludes it from the output (it also excludes "E" for the same
reason).  The conflict that used to be "ABCDE vs AXYE" is now "BCD vs XY":

    output:      1234A<BCD=XY>E789      ; with ZEALOUS

There could even be matching parts between two postimages in the middle.
Instead of one side rewriting the shared "56" to "ABCDE" and the other
side to "AXYE", imagine the case where the postimages are "ABCDE" and
"AXCYE", in which case instead of having one conflicted hunk "BCD vs XY",
you would have two conflicting hunks "B vs X" and "D vs Y".

In either case, once you reduce "ABCDE vs AXYE" to "BCD vs XY" (or "ABCDE
vs AXCYE" to "B vs X" and "D vs Y"), there is no part from the preimage
that corresponds to the conflicting change made in both postimages
anymore.  In other words, conflict reduced by ZEALOUS algorithm cannot be
expressed in "diff3 -m" style.  Representing the last illustration like
this is misleading to say the least:

    output:      1234A<BCD|56=XY>E789   ; broken "diff3 -m" style

because the preimage was not ...4A56E... to begin with.  "A" and "E" are
common only between the postimages.

Even worse, once a single conflicting hunk is split into multiple ones
(recall the example of breaking "ABCDE vs AXCYE" to "B vs X" and "D vs
Y"), there is no sane way to distribute the preimage text across split
conflicting hunks.

Signed-off-by: Junio C Hamano <>
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1 parent 838338c commit 83133740d9c81ce4c98cb53b85c8d5b190944f81 @gitster gitster committed Aug 29, 2008
Showing with 10 additions and 3 deletions.
  1. +1 −3 builtin-merge-file.c
  2. +9 −0 xdiff/xmerge.c
@@ -27,10 +27,8 @@ int cmd_merge_file(int argc, const char **argv, const char *prefix)
else if (!strcmp(argv[1], "-q") ||
!strcmp(argv[1], "--quiet"))
freopen("/dev/null", "w", stderr);
- else if (!strcmp(argv[1], "--diff3")) {
+ else if (!strcmp(argv[1], "--diff3"))
merge_style = XDL_MERGE_DIFF3;
- merge_level = XDL_MERGE_EAGER;
- }
@@ -392,6 +392,15 @@ static int xdl_do_merge(xdfenv_t *xe1, xdchange_t *xscr1, const char *name1,
int level = flags & XDL_MERGE_LEVEL_MASK;
int style = flags & XDL_MERGE_STYLE_MASK;
+ if (style == XDL_MERGE_DIFF3) {
+ /*
+ * "diff3 -m" output does not make sense for anything
+ * more aggressive than XDL_MERGE_EAGER.
+ */
+ if (XDL_MERGE_EAGER < level)
+ level = XDL_MERGE_EAGER;
+ }
c = changes = NULL;
while (xscr1 && xscr2) {

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