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Introducing Blended Diffs

January 10, 2024

What would diffs look like if they were optimized for comprehension? Could we convey more by showing less? Could we leverage dynamic UI conventions and AI to let you dig deeper, but only when you needed? How could we help quantify review time and give you the tools to improve it?

Our answer? Blended diffs.

Blended diffs reimagine how versioned code changes are shown to reviewers by minimizing deleted lines, simplifying modified lines, and providing more context around a set of changes. All while improving the review process and making it more approachable for the whole team. Starting today, it’s the only diff style on Pierre.

By emphasizing a file’s after state over a decades-old diff design, we drastically reduce the level of visual noise while giving space for previously unseen levels of context around code changes. Okay, enough talk, let's walk through some of the changes!

Starting from the top, you'll see a new set of diff stats. We now show three numbers: additions, deletions, and modifications. What are modifications you ask?

Modifications are singlular changed lines. They replace the old deleted and added lines of yesteryear and are indicated with a blue ~ character and striped border (shoutout VS Code!). Inline additions are highlighted with a green background while inline deletions are indicated by a vertical red bar. Click that red bar to open a popover that shows the before and after for that line.

Blended diffs also include a dedicated column left of the line number called a gutter. The gutter is where we show additional relevant information for code changes. This is where annotation markers are now rendered, avatars for authors that left a comment on that line, and more.

Finally, deleted lines are now hidden by default and their changes are summarized by AI. Deletions can be shown by clicking the summary text or subtle red horizontal line.

Blended diffs are a massive leap for code review on Pierre. In the future we'll be adding more functionality to blended diffs, including expanding diffs to show more of the file, commenting on files, reference files, suggested changes, and more.

Happy branching! Jump into the Discord for early access and to tell us what you think.

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