Alex Feinman Alex Feinman - 1 year ago 136
Git Question

Quantifying the amount of change in a git diff?

I use git for a slightly unusual purpose--it stores my text as I write fiction. (I know, I know...geeky.)

I am trying to keep track of productivity, and want to measure the degree of difference between subsequent commits. The writer's proxy for "work" is "words written", at least during the creation stage. I can't use straight word count as it ignores editing and compression, both vital parts of writing. I think I want to track:

(words added)+(words removed)

which will double-count (words changed), but I'm okay with that.

It'd be great to type some magic incantation and have git report this distance metric for any two revisions. However, git diffs are patches, which show entire lines even if you've only twiddled one character on the line; I don't want that, especially since my 'lines' are paragraphs. Ideally I'd even be able to specify what I mean by "word" (though \W+ would probably be acceptable).

Is there a flag to git-diff to give diffs on a word-by-word basis? Alternately, is there a solution using standard command-line tools to compute the metric above?

Answer Source

wdiff does word-by-word comparison. Git can be configured to use an external program to do the diffing. Based on those two facts and this blog post, the following should do roughly what you want.

Create a script to ignore most of the unnecessary arguments that git-diff provides and pass them to wdiff. Save the following as ~/ or something similar and make it executable.


import sys
import os

os.system('wdiff -s3 "%s" "%s"' % (sys.argv[2], sys.argv[5]))

Tell git to use it.

git config --global diff.external ~/
git diff filename
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