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Term based tool to view colored, incremental diff in a Git/Mercurial/Svn workspace or from stdin, with side by side and auto pager support. Requires python (>= 2.5.0) and less.

default side by side


Install with pip

Cdiff is already listed on PyPI, you can install with pip if you have the tool.

pip install --upgrade cdiff

Install with

You can also run the from the source if you don't have pip.

git clone
cd cdiff
./ install

Install with Homebrew

You can also install with Homebrew on Mac. (Thanks to @josa42, @bfontaine, @hivehand and @nijikon for contributing to the Homebrew Formula).

brew install cdiff

Download directly

Just save to whatever directory which is in your $PATH, for example, $HOME/bin is in my $PATH, so I save the script there and name as cdiff.

curl -ksSL > ~/bin/cdiff
chmod +x ~/bin/cdiff


Type cdiff -h to show usage:

$ cdiff -h
Usage: cdiff [options] [file|dir ...]

View colored, incremental diff in a workspace or from stdin, with side by side
and auto pager support

  --version           show program's version number and exit
  -h, --help          show this help message and exit
  -s, --side-by-side  enable side-by-side mode
  -w N, --width=N     set text width for side-by-side mode, 0 for auto
                      detection, default is 80
  -l, --log           show log with changes from revision control
  -c M, --color=M     colorize mode 'auto' (default), 'always', or 'never'

    Option parser will stop on first unknown option and pass them down to
    underneath revision control

Read diff from local modification in a Git/Mercurial/Svn workspace (output from e.g. git diff, svn diff):

cd proj-workspace
cdiff                       # view colored incremental diff
cdiff -s                    # view side by side, use default text width 80
cdiff -s -w 90              # use text width 90 other than default 80
cdiff -s -w 0               # auto set text width based on terminal size
cdiff -s file1 dir2         # view modification of given files/dirs only
cdiff -s -w90 -- -U10       # pass '-U10' to underneath revision diff tool
cdiff -s -w90 -U10          # '--' is optional as it's unknown to cdiff
cdiff -s --cached           # show git staged diff (git diff --cached)
cdiff -s -r1234             # show svn diff to revision 1234

Read log with changes in a Git/Mercurial/Svn workspace (output from e.g. git log -p, svn log --diff), note --diff option is new in svn 1.7.0:

cd proj-workspace
cdiff -l                    # read log along with changes
cdiff -ls                   # equivalent to cdiff -l -s, view side by side
cdiff -ls -w90              # set text width 90 as well
cdiff -ls file1 dir2        # see log with changes of given files/dirs only

If you feel more comfortable with a command such as git cdiff to trigger the cdiff command, you may symlink the executable to one named git-cdiff as follows:

cdiff_dir=$(dirname $(which cdiff))
ln -s "${cdiff_dir}/cdiff" "${cdiff_dir}/git-cdiff"

Pipe in a diff:

git log -p -2 | cdiff       # view git log with changes of last 2 commits
git show 15bfa | cdiff -s   # view a given git commit, side by side
svn diff -r1234 | cdiff -s  # view svn diff comparing to given revision
diff -u file1 file2 | cdiff # view diff between two files (note the '-u')
diff -ur dir1 dir2 | cdiff  # view diff between two dirs

# View diff in a GitHub pull request, side by side
curl | cdiff -s

# View a patch file in unified or context format, the latter depends on
# command `filterdiff` from package `patchutils` which is available in
# major Linux distros and MacPorts.
cdiff -s < foo.patch

Redirect output to another patch file is safe:

svn diff -r PREV | cdiff -s > my.patch


Cdiff has following known issues:

  • Does not recognize normal diff, and depends on filterdiff (patchutils) to read context diff
  • Side by side mode has alignment problem for wide chars
  • Terminal might be in a mess on exception (type reset can fix it)

Pull requests are very welcome, please make sure your changes can pass unit tests and regression tests by run make test (required tool coverage can be installed with pip install coverage). Also watch out travis build after push, make sure it passes as well.

See also

I have another tool coderev which generates side-by-side diff pages for code review from two given files or directories, I found it's not easy to extend to support git so invented cdiff. Idea of ansi color markup is also from project colordiff.