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The output format from "git-diff-cache", "git-diff-tree" and
"git-diff-files" is very similar.
 
These commands all compare two sets of things; what are
compared are different:
 
git-diff-cache <tree-ish>::
        compares the <tree-ish> and the files on the filesystem.
 
git-diff-cache --cached <tree-ish>::
        compares the <tree-ish> and the cache.
 
git-diff-tree [-r] <tree-ish-1> <tree-ish-2> [<pattern>...]::
        compares the trees named by the two arguments.
 
git-diff-files [<pattern>...]::
        compares the cache and the files on the filesystem.
 
 
An output line is formatted this way:
 
in-place edit  :100644 100644 bcd1234... 0123456... M file0
copy-edit      :100644 100644 abcd123... 1234567... C68 file1 file2
rename-edit    :100644 100644 abcd123... 1234567... R86 file1 file3
create         :000000 100644 0000000... 1234567... N file4
delete         :100644 000000 1234567... 0000000... D file5
unmerged       :000000 000000 0000000... 0000000... U file6
 
That is, from the left to the right:
 
  (1) a colon.
  (2) mode for "src"; 000000 if creation or unmerged.
  (3) a space.
  (4) mode for "dst"; 000000 if deletion or unmerged.
  (5) a space.
  (6) sha1 for "src"; 0{40} if creation or unmerged.
  (7) a space.
  (8) sha1 for "dst"; 0{40} if creation, unmerged or "look at work tree".
  (9) status, followed by similarlity index number only for C and R.
 (10) a tab or a NUL when '-z' option is used.
 (11) path for "src"
 (12) a tab or a NUL when '-z' option is used; only exists for C or R.
 (13) path for "dst"; only exists for C or R.
 (14) an LF or a NUL when '-z' option is used, to terminate the record.
 
<sha1> is shown as all 0's if new is a file on the filesystem
and it is out of sync with the cache.  Example:
 
  :100644 100644 5be4a4...... 000000...... M file.c
 
Generating patches with -p
--------------------------
 
When "git-diff-cache", "git-diff-tree", or "git-diff-files" are run
with a '-p' option, they do not produce the output described above
instead they produce a patch file.
 
The patch generation can be customized at two levels.  This
customization also applies to "git-diff-helper".
 
1. When the environment variable 'GIT_EXTERNAL_DIFF' is not set,
   these commands internally invoke "diff" like this:
 
      diff -L a/<path> -L a/<path> -pu <old> <new>
+
For added files, `/dev/null` is used for <old>.  For removed
files, `/dev/null` is used for <new>
+
The "diff" formatting options can be customized via the
environment variable 'GIT_DIFF_OPTS'.  For example, if you
prefer context diff:
 
      GIT_DIFF_OPTS=-c git-diff-cache -p $(cat .git/HEAD)
 
 
2. When the environment variable 'GIT_EXTERNAL_DIFF' is set, the
   program named by it is called, instead of the diff invocation
   described above.
+
For a path that is added, removed, or modified,
'GIT_EXTERNAL_DIFF' is called with 7 parameters:
 
     path old-file old-hex old-mode new-file new-hex new-mode
+
where:
 
     <old|new>-file:: are files GIT_EXTERNAL_DIFF can use to read the
		      contents of <old|ne>,
     <old|new>-hex:: are the 40-hexdigit SHA1 hashes,
     <old|new>-mode:: are the octal representation of the file modes.
 
+ 
The file parameters can point at the user's working file
(e.g. `new-file` in "git-diff-files"), `/dev/null` (e.g. `old-file`
when a new file is added), or a temporary file (e.g. `old-file` in the
cache).  'GIT_EXTERNAL_DIFF' should not worry about unlinking the
temporary file --- it is removed when 'GIT_EXTERNAL_DIFF' exits.
 
For a path that is unmerged, 'GIT_EXTERNAL_DIFF' is called with 1
parameter, <path>.