Vcdiff - diff and patch for binary data

    In order to use this module you must install one or more backend modules
    (see below)

        use Vcdiff;

        my $delta = Vcdiff::diff($source, $target);

        my $target2 = Vcdiff::patch($source, $delta);

        ## $target2 eq $target

    Given source and target data, the "Vcdiff::diff" function computes a
    "delta" that encodes the difference information needed to turn source
    into target. Anyone who has source and delta can derive target with the
    "Vcdiff::patch" function.

    The point of this module is that if the source and target inputs are
    related then delta can be small relative to target, meaning it may be
    more efficient to send delta updates to clients over the network instead
    of re-sending the whole target every time.

    Even though source and target don't necessarily have to be binary data
    (regular data is fine too), the delta will contain binary data including
    NUL bytes so if your transport protocols don't support this you will
    have to encode or escape the delta in some way (ie base64). Compressing
    the delta before you do this might be worthwhile depending on the size
    of your changes and the entropy of your data.

    The delta format is described by <RFC 3284>, "The VCDIFF Generic
    Differencing and Compression Data Format".

    Vcdiff is "the DBI" of VCDIFF implementations.

    This module doesn't itself implement delta compression. Instead, it
    provides a consistent interface to various open-source VCDIFF (RFC 3284)
    implementations. The implementation libraries it interfaces to are
    called "backends". You must install at least one backend.

    The currently supported backends are described below. See the POD
    documentation in the backend module distributions for more details on
    the pros and cons of each backend.

    In order to choose which backend to use, Vcdiff will first check to see
    if the $Vcdiff::backend variable is populated. If so, it will attempt to
    load that backend. This variable can be used to force a particular

            local $Vcdiff::backend = 'Vcdiff::OpenVcdiff';
            $delta = Vcdiff::diff($source, $target);

    Otherwise, it will check to see if any backends have been loaded already
    in the following order: Xdelta3, OpenVcdiff. If so, it will choose the
    first one it finds:

        use Vcdiff::Xdelta3;
        $delta = Vcdiff::diff($source, $target);

    If it doesn't find any loaded backends, it will try to load them in the
    same order as above.

    Finally, if no backends can be loaded, an exception is thrown.

    The backend that will be used can be determined by calling

  BACKEND: Xdelta3
    The Vcdiff::Xdelta3 backend module bundles Joshua MacDonald's <Xdelta3>

  BACKEND: open-vcdiff
    The Vcdiff::OpenVcdiff backend module depends on Alien::OpenVcdiff which
    configures, builds, and installs Google's <open-vcdiff> library.

  Future Backends
    Another possible candidate would be Kiem-Phong Vo's <Vcodex> utility
    which contains a VCDIFF implementation.

    A really cool project would be a pure-perl VCDIFF implementation that
    could be used in environments that are unable to compile XS modules.

    In the future I plan to build a Vcdiff::DumbDiffer module (name
    undecided) that will completely ignore the source and create a delta
    that embeds the entire target. Obviously this defeats the purpose of
    delta compression but will allow deltas to be generated really fast.
    This will be useful because protocols that frequently replace the entire
    content won't need a special case for this.

    Unless you are relying on features supported only by a specific backend,
    it's recommended that code that uses Vcdiff be backend-agnostic like

        use Vcdiff;
        print Vcdiff::diff("hello", "hello world");

    Instead of:

        use Vcdiff::Xdelta3;
        print Vcdiff::Xdelta3::diff("hello", "hello world");

    That way the selection of which backend to use is as dynamic as

    If you're writing a module that depends on Vcdiff, pick a backend and
    add that backend's package (ie "Vcdiff::Xdelta3") to your module's
    dependency list. This way a (sophisticated) user can force a different
    backend at install-time if the one you chose doesn't work for whatever

    Even more importantly, writing backend-agnostic code allows users of
    your module to choose which backend to use by setting $Vcdiff::backend
    before calling your module's routines. Backend-agnostic code also
    permits the flexibility of using one backend for diffing and another for
    patching by localising $Vcdiff::backend for specific operations.

    The streaming API is sometimes more convenient than the in-memory API.
    It can also be more efficient since it uses less memory. Also, you can
    start processing output before Vcdiff has finished.

    Sometimes you have to use the streaming API in order to handle files
    that are too large to fit into your virtual address space (though note
    some backends have size limitations apart from this).

    In order to send output to a stream, a file handle should be passed in
    as the 3rd argument to "diff" or "patch":

        Vcdiff::diff("hello", "hello world", \*STDOUT);

    In order to fully take advantage of streaming, either or both of the
    source and target parameters can also be file handles instead of
    strings. Here is the full-streaming mode where all parameters are file

        open(my $source_fh, '<', 'source.dat') || die $!;
        open(my $target_fh, '<', 'target.dat') || die $!;
        open(my $delta_fh, '>', 'delta.dat') || die $!;

        Vcdiff::diff($source_fh, $target_fh, $delta_fh);

    Note that in all current backends if the source parameter is a file
    handle it must be backed by an lseek(2)able and/or mmap(2)able file
    descriptor (in other words it must be a real file, not a pipe or
    socket). Vcdiff will throw an exception if the source file handle is

    If the source and/or target/delta are in files, an alternative to the
    streaming API is to map the files into memory with mmap(2) and then pass
    the mappings in to "diff"/"patch" as strings.

    Doing so is more efficient than the streaming API for large files
    because fewer system calls are made and a kernel-space to user-space
    copy is avoided. However, as mentioned above, files that are too large
    to fit in your virtual address space must be diffed with the streaming
    API (this will only come up when working with multi-gigabyte files on 32
    bit systems).

    Here is an example using Sys::Mmap (doesn't handle resource leaks in the
    case of exceptions):

        use Sys::Mmap;

        open(my $source_fh, '<', 'source.dat') || die $!;
        open(my $target_fh, '<', 'target.dat') || die $!;
        open(my $delta_fh, '>', 'delta.dat') || die $!;

        my ($source_str, $target_str);

        mmap($source_str, 0, PROT_READ, MAP_SHARED, $source_fh) || die $!;
        mmap($target_str, 0, PROT_READ, MAP_SHARED, $target_fh) || die $!;

        Vcdiff::diff($source_str, $target_str, $delta_fh);


    Note that under the hood the Vcdiff::OpenVcdiff backend uses Sys::Mmap
    for source file handles.

    The Vcdiff distribution includes a test suite that is shared by all the
    backends. Backends contain stub test files that invoke Vcdiff::Test

    Each backend also bundles backend-specific tests that relate to
    exception handling.

    This is a reference to an array that contains testcases. Each testcase
    is an array of 3 values. The first is the source, the second the target,
    and the third a test description.

    Every time a test-case is verified, source will be diffed with target,
    source will then be patched with the delta and the output compared with

    The tests currently verify a few basic cases up to a megabyte or so in
    length. I'd like to go through the various backend test-suites and copy
    any interesting corner cases so they can be re-applied to all other

    The Vcdiff::Test::streaming() test is somewhat mis-named. It loops
    through all test-cases described above and for each of them it tests
    every streaming/in-memory API combination. You will see this in the test
    output like so:

        ok 1 - [SSM]
        ok 2 - [MSM]
        ok 3 - [SMM]
        ok 4 - [MMM]
        ok 5 - [SSS]
        ok 6 - [MSS]
        ok 7 - [SMS]
        ok 8 - [MMS]

    The S/M indicators show which API combination is being used in the order
    of source, target/delta, and output arguments. For example, "SMS" means
    source is streamed in from a file, the target/delta is in memory, and
    the output is being streamed to a file.

    The point of this test is to verify that the deltas produced by each
    backend are compatible will all other backends. For each combination of
    backend, all the streaming() tests above are run.

    Since the VCDIFF standard defines a data format, even though backends
    may use very different encoding algorithms their outputs should still be
    compatible. By default Vcdiff tries to be RFC 3284 compatible so no
    backend-specific extensions like checksums or interleaving are enabled.

    This test has to be run manually because it needs to have all
    @Vcdiff::known_backends installed.

    <Vcdiff github repo>

    <RFC 3284>, "The VCDIFF Generic Differencing and Compression Data

    Doug Hoyte, "<>"

    Copyright 2013 Doug Hoyte.

    This module is licensed under the same terms as perl itself.