The Diff That
Understands Your Code

SemanticDiff is a Visual Studio Code extension to help you understand code changes faster by removing noise and adding useful annotations.

SemanticDiff
Demo

Try It Now!

Want to test it yourself? Go ahead and try the online demo which supports a subset of the features provided by the VS Code Extension.

Features

Fast & Thorough Code Reviews

Understand code changes faster without missing critical details, no matter if you are checking your own code before committing or when reviewing a pull request.

Hides Style Changes
Style changes are hidden in SemanticDiff
Hides Style Changes

Why spend time on reviewing the output of your code formatter? Let the CI validate the code style, while you concentrate on the logic changes.

  • Spot changes within reformated code
  • Skip manual review of style changes
  • Focus on changes to the program logic
Detects Moved Code
SemanticDiff detects how code was moved
Detects Moved Code

When moving a lot of code, it is easy to overlook that print statement you added while debugging. It is buried in a huge hunk of red and green lines. Wouldn’t it be great if your diff tool would highlight such modifications?

  • See how code was moved within or across files
  • Spot changes within moved code
Understands Refactorings
SemanticDiff highlights refactorings
Understands Refactorings

Refactorings are often simple but can affect many lines of code. Checking all the individual changes is often too tedious so that other unintended changes get overlooked. SemanticDiff assists you by automatically separating refactorings from other code changes.

  • See which changes belong to the same refactoring
  • Selectively hide certain or all refactorings
  • Divide and conquer your diff

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FAQ

Learn more about SemanticDiff.

A code diff is a visual representation of how source code files have changed between two (or more) versions of a software. There are a few different variants, but most of them are based on a line-by-line comparison of the source code files. Added lines are marked in green, deleted lines are marked in red. Diff tools are part of every version control system, with git diff and the GNU diffutils being the most popular ones.

Common diffs treat source code as text files, and generate a visualization based on a simple line-by-line comparison. This is far from perfect: There are many types of code changes, such as inserting line breaks between function arguments, that don’t have any effect on the software but are displayed as changes. This adds a lot of visual noise and makes it difficult for developers to spot the relevant changes.

In contrary, a semantic diff (or also called structural diff) understands the meaning of the change. It can, for example, distinguish between relevant and irrelevant changes, and recognizes when changes correspond to a typical refactoring pattern, like moving code or renaming a function. Instead of showing lot of changed lines, a semantic diff will show an abstract description of the change, e.g., that a function has been renamed.

SemanticDiff works similar to a compiler or interpreter. Given two source codes to compare, they are first converted to Abstract Syntax Trees (ASTs). This step adds additional information that enables us to filter out various style changes, like adding optional semicolons or commas in an array initialization.

In a second step, we match both trees to find out what has changed. Additional rules are applied to filter out more complex invariances. Afterwards the detected changes are translated back into a text diff representation.

The online demo contains only a subset of the programming languages that the Visual Studio Code extension will support. We haven’t finalized the list yet, as we want to take feedback from the beta phase into account. The following languages are currently on our list:

  • C#
  • CSS
  • JavaScript / JSX
  • JSON
  • Python
  • SCSS
  • TypeScript / TSX

Our long-term goal is to make SemanticDiff available wherever you need it. For now, we’re focusing on one product, our VS Code Extension, to iterate quickly. However, we are open to third-parties integrating our technology into their software. If this sound interesting to you, get in touch with us.

You can review merge requests locally by pulling their changes through Git and opening them with our VS Code extension. If you are looking for a better out-of-the-box experience, check out MergeBoard. Our code review software not only allows your team to use the SemanticDiff technology collaboratively, but also offers other benefits like better communication tools.

SemanticDiff is able to detect moved or copied blocks of code, as well as renaming of variables, functions, and classes. Additional types of refactorings will be added over time. If you have suggestions on what should be recognized, feel free to send us your feedback via our contact form.

There are very few other tools that can generate structural/semantic diffs. The ones we know of focus on supporting a wide variety of programming languages at the expense of accuracy and not supporting advanced features.

In contrast, our goal is to develop software that delivers correct results that developers can rely on. This is also an important requirement for advanced features, like detecting refactorings. We therefore support only a small number of programming languages at the moment, for which we want to improve support together with our beta testers.

As long as SemanticDiff is in beta, it will be available completely free of charge for both personal and commercial use. Once SemanticDiff is released, certain features or programming languages may only be available in a paid version.

Want To Know More? Get In Touch!

Do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or feedback.
We look forward to hearing from you.