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Re: Merge commit diff results are confusing and inconsistent

On Mon, May 6, 2019 at 6:52 PM Ævar Arnfjörð Bjarmason <avarab@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> Maybe an example helps, let's say you have two paint buckets, one with
> red paint, one with yellow paint. You mix them. What happens?
>     (
>         rm -rf /tmp/git &&
>         git init /tmp/git &&
>         cd /tmp/git &&
>         git checkout -b red &&
>         echo red >color.txt &&
>         git add color.txt &&
>         git commit -m"red" &&
>         git checkout --orphan green &&
>         git reset --hard &&
>         echo green >color.txt &&
>         git add color.txt &&
>         git commit -m"green" &&
>         git merge --allow-unrelated-histories red;
>         echo yellow >color.txt &&
>         git add color.txt &&
>         git commit -m"red + green = yellow"
>     )
> I *think* what you're alluding to is trying to discover some sort of
> change to whatever the default merge resolution would have been, which
> in this case would be closer to:
>     (echo green && echo red) >color.txt
> But it's important to understand that the whole business of suggesting
> how you should merge is just sugar that isn't in any way represented in
> the object model that makes it into the repository.
> In that model we just had one branch with "color.txt" containing "red",
> and another with "green". Then we merged the two together and that
> commit merged two histories together, did something to yield an end
> result, and now the "color.txt" file contains "yellow".
> But what single thing can you look at to describe how you ended up with
> "yellow"? There isn't such a single thing, I just know that I have a
> commit with two parents:
>     $ git cat-file -p HEAD
>     tree 6318a50d67e6de533498a4a0c9f46360cff6908a
>     parent 2332fc6b40c1cbf9f5daf809f09eb4defdd2ce30
>     parent 1707f13d2d236d61ac7496962ecebc50ffff5be3
> And that if I diff against the 1st parent we went from green to yellow:
>     $ git diff HEAD^1..HEAD
>     diff --git a/color.txt b/color.txt
>     index a5b73ed..d1ed081 100644
>     --- a/color.txt
>     +++ b/color.txt
>     @@ -1 +1 @@
>     -green
>     +yellow
> And the other from red to yellow:
>     $ git diff HEAD^2..HEAD
>     diff --git a/color.txt b/color.txt
>     index a9d1386..d1ed081 100644
>     --- a/color.txt
>     +++ b/color.txt
>     @@ -1 +1 @@
>     -red
>     +yellow
> To the extent that we can show a single diff at all that's diff-tree's
> --cc option:
>     $ git diff-tree --cc HEAD
>     e89ef1f780d7c979c18cc0f03fd74c560466ef03
>     diff --cc color.txt
>     index a5b73ed,a9d1386..d1ed081
>     --- a/color.txt
>     +++ b/color.txt
>     @@@ -1,1 -1,1 +1,1 @@@
>     - green
>      -red
>     ++yellow
> Sometimes it makes things better, sometimes it's just more
> confusing. It's what "git show" will use to render merge commits.

Your example is very helpful. I understand what you're saying for
conflicted lines. But the "whatever the default merge resolution would
have been" doesn't exist, because there's no reality where line 1 in
color.txt can be something "automatic" (i.e. deduced by git). The only
reality for the merge commit is some hand-edited replacement to line
1. So there is no "diff what I see with some alternate reality".

The majority use case I'm interested in is seeing net-positive changes
that happen in merge commits. Normally I take for granted that merge
commits have nothing meaningful in them (meaningful here defined as
something unexpected for a merge commit). But what if someone makes a
poor decision and does some crazy refactoring in 1 file and amends it
into a merge commit? Let's also say that these changes are done to a
file that wasn't modified in any parent (say a unrelated.txt next to
your color.txt). Since neither parent cares about that file for the
purposes of the merge, I am trying to make sense of a revision
specification that can be used to see what they did to that file.

Even ignoring that issue, the more concerning observation of mine is
that `diff @^!` produces any output at all. If you exclude both
parents, why do I see a diff for parent 2 (I see the complete diff of
the branch that was merged in)?

Again, thank you for your example, you definitely made things very
clear for me. I see where the confusion is. And I think --cc is a good
way to get more context. At this point I'm just concerned about the
@^! behavior with merge commits & diff.