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Proposal: Add functionality to Retrieve last change

The idea here is simple:

  • Currently you can get at the last diff by clicking on the link for comparing the latest revision (by number) with the previous revision (by number).
    • I suspect gnu's rcs/diff probably allows symbolic naming of these - not everyone uses gnu's rcs/diff however
  • It would be useful to simply to be able to say "give me the last diff".
    • This would be an especially useful button on the top of the page IMHO.

The idea here is powerful:

  1. Including the last diff in a formatted search allows mailnotify to send out updates
  2. It allows "at a glance" views of recent updates on a different form of WebChanges.
  3. It is useful for doing targeted mail notification - especially as I note in CopyToEmail

I would suggest that UnifiedDiffOutput is most useful for these 3 cases - since it most closely matches the nettiquette for email. (It's not perfect, but close)

And yes, I'm prepared to do this, just after feedback smile

-- MichaelSparks - 15 Aug 2003

Sounds like a good idea. I definately prefer the idea of unified diffs over side-by-side or other diffs.

I have a few things I would like to see in something like this (I don't think I've seen them in other discussions, so I will put them here for now, please move them if they're better suited elsewhere):

  1. Sometimes in our TWiki, someone will use (often bad) html (almost always bad xhtml) in place of WikiSyntax. This irks me to no end, since the idea of TWiki is that it can be easily read, which I don't consider fancily formatted html. Usually doing this a few times shows the person the right way of doing things, and life is good. Anyway, I change it, and there's an indication in the diff that something changed, but no visual clue as to what. It would be nice if diff either did not highlight this (I think this is a bad behavior), or tag it in a special way that said formatting change in some way.
    • This (like the second point) actually points to the idea that you want the diffs done on the resulting output - has the appearance changed - rather than on the source. This I sympathise with - since I often do small cleanups like this.
  2. The diffs tend to include very large blocks of information, even if only one line is changed. This usually happens in things like (bulleted) lists. In something like an email, I think it would be better to only show the affected line, and one or two lines before/after, like a normal unified diff.
    • This is a side effect of the way people create bullet lists. For example bullet 1 on my screen looks like 6 lines of text in this edit box, but is in fact just 1 line. On some screens it might look like 10 or more. However if I change 1 character in that line, to you it will look like 6-10 lines have changed - even though it's just one. This is because 1 line of diff output == 1 source line, but 1 line of diff output = 6-10 lines displayed. A WordDiff (mentioned lots) has been discussed before and is probably in line with what you'd want. (I'd also like it, but like everyone a finite amount of time and I think there's more pressing issues smile )
    • Both options really relate around "only show me diffs that contain visual changes, and make the diffs jump out at me - give me an automatic highlighter". This idea exists in quite a number of topics, but hasn't been dealt with. One possible way of getting round this (slightly) is to lower our sights on what we want diffs to look like - do we want them to look like they do now, or would we be happier with a more textual, but accurate representation. (For example if I do a lynx -dump -width 72 of two revs using lynx, and do a diff on those, small changes to large bullets like this would be much more visible (heck you could even pre-format it so single char changes are clearer), but significantly less pretty. It would take longer to do however, and has a much higher overhead. That said if it's on a Wiki that's pre-compiled, you'd have a lot of spare CPU cycles to do this...)

-- MikeMaurer, MichaelSparks (comments inline) - 16 Aug 2003

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Topic revision: r3 - 2003-08-16 - MichaelSparks
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