Provided by: libtext-worddiff-perl_0.05-1_all bug


       Text::WordDiff - Track changes between documents


           use Text::WordDiff;

           my $diff = word_diff 'file1.txt', 'file2.txt', { STYLE => 'HTML' };
           my $diff = word_diff \$string1,   \$string2,   { STYLE => 'ANSIColor' };
           my $diff = word_diff \*FH1,       \*FH2;       \%options;
           my $diff = word_diff \&reader1,   \&reader2;
           my $diff = word_diff \@records1,  \@records2;

           # May also mix input types:
           my $diff = word_diff \@records1,  'file_B.txt';


       This module is a variation on the lovely Text::Diff module.  Rather than generating
       traditional line-oriented diffs, however, it generates word-oriented diffs. This can be
       useful for tracking changes in narrative documents or documents with very long lines. To
       diff source code, one is still best off using Text::Diff. But if you want to see how a
       short story changed from one version to the next, this module will do the job very nicely.

   What is a Word?
       I'm glad you asked! Well, sort of. It's a really hard question to answer. I consulted a
       number of sources, but really just did my best to punt on the question by reformulating it
       as, "How do I split text up into individual words?" The short answer is to split on word
       boundaries. However, every word has two boundaries, one at the beginning and one at the
       end. So splitting on "/\b/" didn't work so well. What I really wanted to do was to split
       on the beginning of every word. Fortunately, _Mastering Regular Expressions_ has a recipe
       for that: "/(?<!\w)(?=\w)/". I've borrowed this regular expression for use in Perls before
       5.6.x, but go for the Unicode variant in 5.6.0 and newer:
       "/(?<!\p{IsWord})(?=\p{IsWord})/". With either of these regular expressions, this
       sentence, for example, would be split up into the following tokens:

         my @words = (
             'With ',
             'either ',
             'of ',
             'these ',
             'regular ',
             'this ',
             'sentence, ',
             'for ',
             'example, ',
             'would ',
             'be ',
             'split ',
             'up ',
             'into ',
             'the ',
             'following ',

       Note that this allows the tokens to include any spacing or punctuation after each word. So
       it's not just comparing words, but word-like tokens. This makes sense to me, at least, as
       the diff is between these tokens, and thus leads to a nice word-and-space-and-punctation
       type diff. It's not unlike what a word processor might do (although a lot of them are
       character-based, but that seemed a bit extreme--feel free to dupe this module into

       Now, I acknowledge that there are localization issues with this approach. In particular,
       it will fail with Chinese, Japanese, and Korean text, as these languages don't put non-
       word characters between words. Ideally, Test::WordDiff would then split on every charaters
       (since a single character often equals a word), but such is not the case when the "utf8"
       flag is set on a string.  For example, This simple script:

         use strict;
         use utf8;
         use Data::Dumper;
         my @tokens = split /(?<!\p{IsWord})(?=\p{IsWord})/msx, $string;
         print Dumper \@tokens;


         $VAR1 = [

       Not so useful. It seems to be less of a problem if the "use utf8;" line is commented out,
       in which case we get:

         $VAR1 = [

       Someone whose more familiar with non-space-using languages will have to explain to me how
       I might be able to duplicate this pattern within the scope of "use utf8;", seing as it may
       very well be important to have it on in order to ensure proper character semantics.

       However, if my word tokenization approach is just too naive, and you decide that you need
       to take a different approach (maybe use Lingua::ZH::Toke or similar module), you can still
       use this module; you'll just have to tokenize your strings into words yourself, and pass
       them to word_diff() as array references:

         word_diff \@my_words1, \@my_words2;


       word_diff() takes two arguments from which to draw input and an optional hash reference of
       options to control its output. The first two arguments contain the data to be diffed, and
       each may be in the form of any of the following (that is, they can be in two different

       ·   String

           A bare scalar will be assumed to be a file name. The file will be opened and split up
           into words. word_diff() will also "stat" the file to get the last modified time for
           use in the header, unless the relevant option ("MTIME_A" or "MTIME_B") has been
           specified explicitly.

       ·   Scalar Reference

           A scalar reference will be assumed to refer to a string. That string will be split up
           into words.

       ·   Array Reference

           An array reference will be assumed to be a list of words.

       ·   File Handle

           A glob or IO::Handle-derived object will be read from and split up into its
           constituent words.

       The optional hash reference may contain the following options. Additional options may be
       specified by the formattting class; see the specific class for details.

       ·   STYLE

           "ANSIColor", "HTML" or an object or class name for a class providing "file_header()",
           "hunk_header()", "same_items()", "delete_items()", "insert_items()", "hunk_footer()"
           and "file_footer()" methods. Defaults to "ANSIColor" for nice display of diffs in an
           ANSI Color-supporting terminal.

           If the package indicated by the "STYLE" has no "new()" method, "word_diff()" will load
           it automatically (lazy loading). It will then instantiate an object of that class,
           passing in the options hash reference with which the formatting class can initialize
           the object.

           Styles may be specified as class names ("STYLE => "My::Foo""), in which case they will
           be instantiated by calling the "new()" construcctor and passing in the options hash
           reference, or as objects ("STYLE => My::Foo->new").

           The simplest way to implement your own formatting style is to create a new class that
           inherits from Text::WordDiff::Base, wherein the "new()" method is already provided,
           and the "file_header()" returns a Unified diff-style header. All of the other
           formatting methods simply return empty strings, and are therefore ripe for overriding.


           The name of the file and the modification time "files" in epoch seconds.  Unless a
           defined value is specified for these options, they will be filled in for each file
           when word_diff() is passed a filename. If a filename is not passed in and "FILENAME_A"
           and "FILENAME_B" are not defined, the header will not be printed by the base
           formatting base class.

       ·   OUTPUT

           The method by which diff output should be, well, output. Examples and their equivalent

               OUTPUT => \*FOOHANDLE,   # like: sub { print FOOHANDLE shift() }
               OUTPUT => \$output,      # like: sub { $output .= shift }
               OUTPUT => \@output,      # like: sub { push @output, shift }
               OUTPUT => sub { $output .= shift },

           If "OUTPUT" is not defined, word_diff() will simply return the diff as a string. If
           "OUTPUT" is a code reference, it will be called once with the file header, once for
           each hunk body, and once for each piece of content. If "OUTPUT" is an
           IO::Handle-derived object, output will be sent to that handle.


           The string to print before the filename in the header. Defaults are "---", "+++".

       ·   DIFF_OPTS

           A hash reference to be passed as the options to "Algorithm::Diff->new".  See
           Algorithm::Diff for details on available options.

Formatting Classes

       Text::WordDiff comes with two formatting classes:

           This is the default formatting class. It emits a header and then the diff content,
           with deleted text in bodfaced red and inserted text in boldfaced green.

           Specify "STYLE => 'HTML'" to take advantage of this formatting class. It outputs the
           diff content as XHTML, with deleted text in "<del>" elements and inserted text in
           "<ins>" elements.

       To implement your own formatting class, simply inherit from Text::WordDiff::Base and
       override its methods as necssary. By default, only the "file_header()" formatting method
       returns a value. All others simply return empty strings, and are therefore ripe for

         package My::WordDiff::Format;
         use base 'Text::WordDiff::Base';

         sub file_footer { return "End of diff\n"; }

       The methods supplied by the base class are:

           Constructs and returns a new formatting object. It takes a single hash reference as
           its argument, and uses it to construct the object. The nice thing about this is that
           if you want to support other options in your formatting class, you can just use them
           in the formatting object constructed by the Text::WordDiff::Base class and document
           that they can be passed as part of the options hash refernce to word_diff().

           Called once for a single call to "word_diff()", this method outputs the header for the
           whole diff. This is the only formatting method in the base class that returns anything
           other than an empty string. It collects the filenames from "filname_a()" and
           "filename_b()" and, if they're defined, uses the relevant prefixes and modification
           times to return a unified diff-style header.

           This method is called for each diff hunk. It should output any necessary header for
           the hunk.

           This method is called for items that have not changed between the two sequnces being
           compared. The unchanged items will be passed as a list to the method.

           This method is called for items in the first sequence that are not present in the
           second sequcne. The deleted items will be passed as a list to the method.

           This method is called for items in the second sequence that are not present in the
           first sequcne. The inserted items will be passed as a list to the method.

           This method is called at the end of a hunk. It should output any necessary content to
           close out the hunk.

           This method is called once when the whole diff has been procssed. It should output any
           necessary content to close out the diff file.

           This accessor returns the value specified for the "FILENAME_A" option to word_diff().

           This accessor returns the value specified for the "FILENAME_B" option to word_diff().

           This accessor returns the value specified for the "MTIME_A" option to word_diff().

           This accessor returns the value specified for the "MTIME_B" option to word_diff().

           This accessor returns the value specified for the "FILENAME_PREFIX_A" option to

           This accessor returns the value specified for the "FILENAME_PREFIX_B" option to

See Also

           Inspired the interface and implementation of this module. Thanks Barry!

           A module that attempts to diff paragraphs and the words in them.

           The module that makes this all possible.


       This module is stored in an open repository at the following address:


       Patches against Text::WordDiff are welcome. Please send bug reports to


       David Wheeler <>

Copyright and License

       Copyright (c) 2005-2008 David Wheeler. Some Rights Reserved.

       This module is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the same
       terms as Perl itself.