git diff command is a powerful tool in Git, a widely-used version control system. Its primary purpose is to show changes between commits, commit and working tree, etc. It is used to illustrate what changes have been made since the last commit.
git diff, we first need to understand what we mean by changes. In a version control context, changes refer to the differences in code, text, or other data between two points in time. These points in time can be two different versions of the same file, the state of a file at two different times, or two different branches of a project.
git diff command compares these changes between different commits, between the working directory and the index (staging area for the next commit), or between the working directory and the last commit. By running
git diff, you can see exactly what lines have been added, modified, or deleted.
This is especially useful in larger projects where you might need to see what has changed from one version to another. It’s also helpful when reviewing someone else’s code, as you can quickly see what they’ve changed without having to read through everything.
The command produces output in a standardized format, which can be parsed by various tools for further inspection or automation.
Here is a brief explanation of some common uses:
git diff: This command will show you the changes between your working directory and the index (i.e., what you would commit if you run
git commit -a)
git diff --staged(or
git diff --cached): This command will show you the changes between your index and the latest commit (i.e., what you’re about to commit when you run
git diff HEAD: This command will show you the changes between your working directory and the latest commit (i.e., changes that are in your working directory but not yet in your index or the next commit).
git diff <commit1>..<commit2>: This command will show you the changes between two specific commits.
By default, the diff output is shown in the command line, but you can also configure Git to show diffs in a GUI tool or a third-party diff tool.
So, in essence, the
git diff command is a way to view changes in your codebase, and it’s an essential part of any developer’s toolkit when using Git for version control.