Calculates the difference between two (nested) maps, and returns a map representing the patch of changes.

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Programming language: Elixir
License: MIT License

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Calculates the difference between two (nested) maps.

The idea is very simple: One of four things can happen to each key in a map:

  • It remains the same: :equal
  • It was not in the original map, but it is in the new one: :added
  • It was in the original map, but is no longer in the new one: :removed
  • It is in both maps, but its value changed.

For the fourth variant, MapDiff.diff/2 returns :primitive_change if the value under the key was 'simply changed', and :map_change if in both arguments this value itself is a map, which means that MapDiff.diff/2 was called on it recursively.

In the case of a :map_change, the resulting map also contains two extra keys: :added and :removed, which are maps containing all key-value pairs that were added, removed or changed (in this case, they are listed in both maps) at this level. Keys whose values remained equal are thus not listed in these maps.

In the case of a :primitive_change, the resulting map also contains :added and :removed, but they simply contain the before and after versions of the value stored.

MapDiff.diff/2 is the single function that MapDiff currently exports.

It returns a 'patch', which is a map describing the changes between map_a and map_b. This patch always has the key :changed, the key :value and if :changed is :map_change, the keys :added and :removed.

## Examples

If the (nested) map is still the same, it is considered :equal:

  iex> MapDiff.diff(%{my: 1}, %{my: 1})
  %{changed: :equal, value: %{my: 1}}

When a key disappears, it is considered :removed:

  iex> MapDiff.diff(%{a: 1}, %{})
  %{changed: :map_change,
  value: %{a: %{changed: :removed, value: 1}}, added: %{}, removed: %{a: 1}}

When a key appears, it is considered :added:

  iex> MapDiff.diff(%{}, %{b: 2})
  %{changed: :map_change, value: %{b: %{changed: :added, value: 2}}, added: %{b: 2}, removed: %{}}

When the value of a key changes (and one or both of the old or new values is not a map), then this is considered a :primitive_change.

  iex> MapDiff.diff(%{b: 3}, %{b: 2})
  %{changed: :map_change, value: %{b: %{added: 2, changed: :primitive_change, removed: 3}}, added: %{b: 2}, removed: %{b: 3}}
  iex> MapDiff.diff(%{val: 3}, %{val: %{}})
  %{changed: :map_change, value: %{val: %{added: %{}, changed: :primitive_change, removed: 3}}, added: %{val: %{}}, removed: %{val: 3}}

When the value of a key changes, and the old and new values are both maps, then this is considered a :map_change that can be parsed recursively.

  iex> MapDiff.diff(%{a: %{}}, %{a: %{b: 1}})
  %{changed: :map_change, 
      value: %{a: %{
        added: %{b: 1}, changed: :map_change, removed: %{},
        value: %{b: %{changed: :added, value: 1}}}
      added: %{a: %{b: 1}}, 
      removed: %{a: %{}}}

A more complex example, to see what happens with nested maps:

  iex> foo = %{a: 1, b: 2, c: %{d: 3, e: 4, f: 5}}
  iex> bar = %{a: 1, b: 42, c: %{d: %{something_else: "entirely"}, f: 10}}
  iex> MapDiff.diff(foo, bar)
  %{added: %{b: 42, c: %{d: %{something_else: "entirely"}, f: 10}},
    changed: :map_change, removed: %{b: 2, c: %{d: 3, e: 4, f: 5}},
    value: %{a: %{changed: :equal, value: 1},
      b: %{added: 42, changed: :primitive_change, removed: 2},
      c: %{added: %{d: %{something_else: "entirely"}, f: 10},
        changed: :map_change, removed: %{d: 3, e: 4, f: 5},
        value: %{d: %{added: %{something_else: "entirely"},
            changed: :primitive_change, removed: 3},
          e: %{changed: :removed, value: 4},
          f: %{added: 10, changed: :primitive_change, removed: 5}}}}}

It is also possible to compare two structs of the same kind. MapDiff.diff/2 will add a struct_name field to the output, so you are reminded of the kind of struct whose fields were changed.

For example, suppose you define the following structs:

  defmodule Foo do
    defstruct a: 1, b: 2, c: 3

  defmodule Bar do
    defstruct a: "foo", b: "bar", z: "baz"

Then the fields of one Foo struct can be compared to another:

  iex> MapDiff.diff(%Foo{}, %Foo{a: 3})
%{added: %Foo{a: 3, b: 2, c: 3}, changed: :map_change,
  removed: %Foo{a: 1, b: 2, c: 3}, struct_name: Foo,
  value: %{a: %{added: 3, changed: :primitive_change, removed: 1},
    b: %{changed: :equal, value: 2}, c: %{changed: :equal, value: 3}}}

When comparing two different kinds of structs, this of course results in a :primitive_change, as they are simply considered primitive data types.

  iex> MapDiff.diff(%Foo{}, %Bar{})
  %{added: %Bar{a: "foo", b: "bar", z: "baz"}, changed: :primitive_change,
    removed: %Foo{a: 1, b: 2, c: 3}}


The package can be installed by adding map_diff to your list of dependencies in mix.exs:

def deps do
  [{:map_diff, "~> 1.3"}]


  • 1.3.3 Removes unused dependency 'Tensor'.
  • 1.3.2 Fixes key => values that were unchanged still showing up in the added and removed fields. (Issue #4)
  • 1.3.1 Fixed README and documentation.
  • 1.3.0 Improved doctests, added :added and :removed fields to see without crawling in the depth what was changed at a :map_change.
  • 1.2.0 Comparisons with non-maps is now possible (yielding :primitive_changes).
  • 1.1.1 Refactoring by @andre1sk. Thank you!
  • 1.1.0 Allow comparison of struct fields.
  • 1.0.0 First stable version.

Documentation can be generated with ExDoc and published on HexDocs. Once published, the docs can be found at https://hexdocs.pm/map_diff.