Skip to content
Highlight the exact differences, based on characters and words
Branch: master
Clone or download
Latest commit 42d5607 Mar 22, 2019
Type Name Latest commit message Commit time
Failed to load latest commit information.
autoload Update 8.5 Mar 22, 2019
doc Update 8.5 Mar 22, 2019
plugin Update 8.5 Mar 22, 2019 Update 8.5 Mar 22, 2019
demo.gif Update 8.5 Mar 22, 2019
example1.png Update 8.5 Mar 22, 2019


Highlight the exact differences, based on characters and words

 ____   _  ____  ____  _____  _   _  _____  ____   
|    | | ||    ||    ||     || | | ||  _  ||  _ |  
|  _  || ||  __||  __||     || | | || | | || | ||  
| | | || || |__ | |__ |   __|| |_| || |_| || |_||_ 
| |_| || ||  __||  __||  |   |     ||     ||  __  |
|     || || |   | |   |  |__ |  _  ||  _  || |  | |
|____| |_||_|   |_|   |_____||_| |_||_| |_||_|  |_|


This plugin has been developed in order to make diff mode more useful. Vim highlights all the text in between the first and last different characters on a changed line. But this plugin will find the exact differences between them, character by character - so called DiffChar.

For example, in diff mode:

This plugin will exactly show the changed and added units:

This plugin will synchronously show/reset the highlights of the exact differences as soon as the diff mode begins/ends since a g:DiffModeSync is enabled as a default. And the exact differences will be kept updated while editing.

You can use :SDChar and :RDChar commands to manually show and reset the highlights on all or some of lines. To toggle the highlights, use :TDChar command.

This plugin shows the differences based on a g:DiffUnit. Its default is 'Word1' and it handles a \w+ word and a \W character as a difference unit. There are other types of word provided and you can also set 'Char' to compare character by character.

In diff mode, the corresponding changed lines are compared between two windows. You can set a matching color to a g:DiffColors to make it easy to find the corresponding units between two windows. As a default, all the changed units are highlighted with DiffText. In addition, DiffAdd is always used for the added units and both the previous and next character of the deleted units are shown in bold/underline.

When the diff mode begins, this plugin detects the limited number of the DiffChange lines, specified by a g:DiffMaxLines, in the current visible and upper/lower lines of the window. Whenever a cursor is moved onto another line and then the window is scrolled up or down, it dynamically detects the DiffChange lines again. Which means, independently of the file size, the number of lines to be detected and then the time consumed are always constant. You can specify a positive value as the actual number of DiffChange lines. The height of the current window is used instead if its value is less than it. A negative value is also allowed as multiples of the window height. If 0 is specified, it disables and statically detects all DiffChange lines once the diff mode begins. Its default is -3 and detects three times as many lines as the window height.

While showing the exact differences, when cursor is moved on a difference unit, you can see its corresponding unit with cursor-like highlight in another window, and also its whole string with the assigned color as a message, based on g:DiffPairVisible.

You can use ]b or ]e to jump cursor to start or end position of the next difference unit, and [b or [e to the start or end position of the previous unit. Those keymaps are configurable in your vimrc and so on.

Like line-based :diffget/:diffput and do/dp vim commands, you can use <Leader>g and <Leader>p commands in normal mode to get and put each difference unit, where the cursor is on, between 2 buffers and undo its difference.

In order to check the actual differences in a line, you can use :EDChar command and echo the lines for range. A changed, added, and deleted unit is shown as [-...-][+...+], [+...+], and [-...-] respectively, while showing its highlight. If a strike highlighting is available such as on GUI and some terminal, the deleted unit is highlighted with the strike instead and [+, +], [-, and -] are eliminated. This command tries to shorten some equivalent units and show ... instead, if the line is too long to fit on the command line. The line number is shown if number or relativenumber option is set in the window. When [!] is used, nothing is shorten and all lines are displayed.

This plugin has been using "An O(NP) Sequence Comparison Algorithm" developed by S.Wu, et al., which always finds an optimum sequence. But if there are many lines to be detected, it takes time to complete the diff tracing. To make it more efficient, this plugin tries to use the external diff command if available.

This plugin works on each tab page individually. You can use a tab page variable (t:), instead of a global one (g:), to specify different options on each tab page. Note that this plugin can not handle more than two diff mode windows in a tab page. If it would happen, to prevent any trouble, all highlighted DiffChar units are to be reset in the tab page.

This plugin has been always positively supporting mulltibyte characters.


  • :[range]SDChar
    • Show the highlights of difference units for [range]
  • :[range]RDChar
    • Reset the highlights of difference units for [range]
  • :[range]TDChar
    • Toggle to show/reset the highlights for [range]
  • :[range]EDChar[!]
    • Echo the line for [range], by showing each corresponding unit together in [+...+]/[-...-] or strike highlighting. Some equivalent units may be shown as .... The line number is shown if number or relativenumber option is set in the window. When [!] is used, all lines and all units are displayed.


  • <Plug>JumpDiffCharPrevStart (default: [b)
    • Jump cursor to the start position of the previous difference unit
  • <Plug>JumpDiffCharNextStart (default: ]b)
    • Jump cursor to the start position of the next difference unit
  • <Plug>JumpDiffCharPrevEnd (default: [e)
    • Jump cursor to the end position of the previous difference unit
  • <Plug>JumpDiffCharNextEnd (default: ]e)
    • Jump cursor to the end position of the next difference unit
  • <Plug>GetDiffCharPair (default: <Leader>g)
    • Get a corresponding difference unit from another buffer to undo difference
  • <Plug>PutDiffCharPair (default: <Leader>p)
    • Put a corresponding difference unit to another buffer to undo difference


  • g:DiffUnit, t:DiffUnit - Type of difference unit
    • 'Word1' : \w\+ word and any \W single character (default)
    • 'Word2' : non-space and space words
    • 'Word3' : \< or \> character class boundaries
    • 'Char' : any single character
    • 'CSV(,)' : separated by characters such as ',', ';', and '\t'
  • g:DiffColors, t:DiffColors - Matching colors for changed unit pairs (always DiffAdd for added units)
    • 0 : always DiffText (default)
    • 1 : 4 colors in fixed order
    • 2 : 8 colors in fixed order
    • 3 : 16 colors in fixed order
    • 100 : all colors defined in highlight option in dynamic random order
  • g:DiffPairVisible, t:DiffPairVisible - Make a corresponding unit visible when cursor is moved on a difference unit
    • 2 : highlight with cursor-like color plus echo as a message (default)
    • 1 : highlight with cursor-like color
    • 0 : disable
  • g:DiffModeSync, t:DiffModeSync- Synchronously show/reset/update with diff mode
    • 1 : enable (default)
    • 0 : disable
  • g:DiffMaxLines, t:DiffMaxLines - A maximum number of DiffChange lines to be dynamically detected
    • -n : multiples of the window height (default as -3)
    • n : the actual number of lines
    • 0 : disable (detect all DiffChange lines once diff mode begins)



:let t:DiffModeSync = 0
:windo diffthis | windo set wrap

:let t:DiffModeSync = 1        " this is a default value
:windo diffthis | windo set wrap

:let t:DiffColors = 3
:windo diffthis | windo set wrap
:EDChar          " echo line 3 together with corresponding difference unit
:%EDChar!        " echo all lines along with the line number

<space>          " move a cursor forward on line 1 and
<space>          " make its corresponding unit pair visible
...              " move a mouse cursor over on line 3 and show a balloon
]b\g             " jump to the next difference unit on line 3 and
]b\g             " get each unit pair from another buffer to undo difference

You can’t perform that action at this time.