[Catalyst] [OT] unified diffs

Jonathan Rockway jon at jrock.us
Sun Aug 13 00:35:47 CEST 2006

The reason for -u diffs is for their human readability factor.  When you
post a patch to a mailing list, people usually skim them over (looking
for obvious mistakes) before applying them to their source tree.  The
+/- syntax (and context) make it very easy to mentally understand the
changeset.  The big blocks of ! or ">" and "<" aren't so easy to grok. 
(Although obviously patch has no problem either way, so if you're a
security-through-obscurity web framework developer distributing some
s00per sekr3t security updates, you'd probably choose the less-readable
format over ones that people could actually understand.)

Also, I think the laziness factor comes in to play, as well.  svn diff
and cvs diff both produce unified diffs by default.  Less typing is good :)

Jonathan Rockway

> These were diff -c, which patch(1) is happy with. Can you tell me what format (in diff(1)) you're refering to?

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