diff3

You can use the `diff3' command to show differences among three files. When two people have made independent changes to a common original, `diff3' can report the differences between the original and the two changed versions, and can produce a merged file that contains both persons' changes together with warnings about conflicts.

SYNTAX
      diff3 OPTIONS... MINE OLDER YOURS

OPTIONS
     Multiple single letter options (unless they take an argument) can be
     combined into a single command line argument.

     The files to compare are MINE, OLDER, and YOURS.  At most one of
     these three file names may be `-', which tells `diff3' to read the
     standard input for that file.

     An exit status of 0 means `diff3' was successful, 1 means some
     conflicts were found, and 2 means trouble.

`-a'
     Treat all files as text and compare them line-by-line, even if they
     do not appear to be text.

`-A'
     Incorporate all changes from OLDER to YOURS into MINE, surrounding
     all conflicts with bracket lines.  *Note Marking Conflicts::.

`-e'
     Generate an `ed' script that incorporates all the changes from
     OLDER to YOURS into MINE.  *Note Which Changes::.

`-E'
     Like `-e', except bracket lines from overlapping changes' first
     and third files.  *Note Marking Conflicts::.  With `-e', an
     overlapping change looks like this:

          <<<<<<< MINE
          lines from MINE
          =======
          lines from YOURS
          >>>>>>> YOURS

`--ed'
     Generate an `ed' script that incorporates all the changes from
     OLDER to YOURS into MINE.  *Note Which Changes::.

`--easy-only'
     Like `-e', except output only the nonoverlapping changes.  *Note
     Which Changes::.

`-i'
     Generate `w' and `q' commands at the end of the `ed' script for
     System V compatibility.  This option must be combined with one of
     the `-AeExX3' options, and may not be combined with `-m'.  *Note
     Saving the Changed File::.

`--initial-tab'
     Output a tab rather than two spaces before the text of a line in
     normal format.  This causes the alignment of tabs in the line to
     look normal.  *Note Tabs::.

`-L LABEL'
`--label=LABEL'
     Use the label LABEL for the brackets output by the `-A', `-E' and
     `-X' options.  This option may be given up to three times, one for
     each input file.  The default labels are the names of the input
     files.  Thus `diff3 -L X -L Y -L Z -m A B C' acts like `diff3 -m A
     B C', except that the output looks like it came from files named
     `X', `Y' and `Z' rather than from files named `A', `B' and `C'.
     *Note Marking Conflicts::.

`-m'
`--merge'
     Apply the edit script to the first file and send the result to
     standard output.  Unlike piping the output from `diff3' to `ed',
     this works even for binary files and incomplete lines.  `-A' is
     assumed if no edit script option is specified.  *Note Bypassing
     ed::.

`--overlap-only'
     Like `-e', except output only the overlapping changes.  *Note
     Which Changes::.

`--show-all'
     Incorporate all unmerged changes from OLDER to YOURS into MINE,
     surrounding all overlapping changes with bracket lines.  *Note
     Marking Conflicts::.

`--show-overlap'
     Like `-e', except bracket lines from overlapping changes' first
     and third files.  *Note Marking Conflicts::.

`-T'
     Output a tab rather than two spaces before the text of a line in
     normal format.  This causes the alignment of tabs in the line to
     look normal.  *Note Tabs::.

`--text'
     Treat all files as text and compare them line-by-line, even if they
     do not appear to be text.  *Note Binary::.

`-v'
`--version'
     Output the version number of `diff3'.

`-x'
     Like `-e', except output only the overlapping changes.  *Note
     Which Changes::.

`-X'
     Like `-E', except output only the overlapping changes.  In other
     words, like `-x', except bracket changes as in `-E'.  *Note
     Marking Conflicts::.

`-3'
     Like `-e', except output only the nonoverlapping changes.  

`diff3' normally compares three input files line by line, finds groups of lines that differ, and reports each group of differing lines. Its output is designed to make it easy to inspect two different sets of changes to the same file.

If `diff3' thinks that any of the files it is comparing is binary (a non-text file), it normally reports an error, because such comparisons are usually not useful. As with `diff', you can force `diff3' to consider all files to be text files and compare them line by line by using the `-a' or `--text' options.

"Anyone who has been to an english public school will always feel comparitively at home in prison" - Evelyn Waugh

Related commands:

cmp - Compare two files
diff - Display the differences between two files
sdiff - merge two files interactively

Equivalent Windows NT commands:

COMP - Compare two files and display any characters which do NOT match
FC - Compare two files and display any LINES which do not match
FIND - Search for a text string in a file
FINDSTR - Search for strings in files
MUNGE - Find and Replace text within file(s)



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Simon Sheppard
SS64.com