#diff #difference #discover #structural #values #detect

no-std visit_diff

Efficiently finding differences between data structures

2 releases

0.1.1 Jun 22, 2019
0.1.0 Feb 17, 2019

#1296 in Data structures

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visit_diff: analyzing structural differences in Rust

Build Status

This is a library for easily comparing Rust data structures to detect differences. This is useful, for example, when reporting a test failure.

The simplest use case:

  1. Put a #[derive(Diff)] annotation on your type.

  2. Replace assert_eq! with assert_eq_diff!.

Now your error messages will highlight diffs instead of making you hunt for them manually.

See the API docs on the module for more.


Analyzing structural differences in Rust values using visitors.

Simple application

This crate provides three functions that you can use immediately without having to learn a bunch of traits.

You can derive Diff for any custom type that implements Debug.

Under the hood

This scheme is modeled after a combination of core::fmt::Formatter and serde::Serialize. There are two main traits:

  • Diff is implemented by types that can be diff'd.
  • Differ is implemented by types that can process differences.

You'll typically derive Diff. Derived impls will simply present the structure of the type honestly, much like a derived Debug impl would. However, you can also implement it by hand if you need special functionality.

The most detailed docs are on the Differ trait.


Together, Diff and Differ implement the Visitor Pattern for climbing over a data structure. This is a little different than some other applications of visitors you might have encountered. In particular:

  1. The structure being visited is the Rust notion of types: here is a struct, the struct has fields, etc. A custom impl of Diff can fake the internals of a type to abstract away details, but the model is still the same.

  2. Instead of visiting the parts of a single data structure, here we are visiting two data structures of the same type in parallel. This means we stop visiting if the structures diverge -- for example, if we discover two different variants of an enum type. (When this happens we notify the Differ through the difference method.)

  3. The double dispatch aspect of the visitor pattern occurs at compile time, rather than at runtime, so there's very little overhead. The description of the pattern on Wikipedia (and the book Design Patterns that originated the name "visitor") doesn't discuss this version, only considering dyn-style runtime dispatch.

no_std support

This crate is no_std compatible, in case you want to diff data structures in a deeply-embedded system.


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