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Diffify - 3 months on

Author: Myles Mitchell & Clarissa Barratt

Published: August 9, 2022

We’re now three months on from the initial release of Diffify, and what a few months it’s been! We thought now seemed like a good time to give you an overview of the big updates that Diffify has been through since it’s launch.

Recognition and user feedback

We are delighted to see that our app has been quickly adopted by the R community:

  • R Weekly now displays links to Diffify for updated CRAN packages!

  • Our very own Colin Gillespie has just presented a talk on Diffify at the recent RStudio Conference!

  • Lots of positive feedback on LinkedIn and Twitter.

  • Our users have also been making some really helpful suggestions on our GitHub, inspiring some of the updates listed below!


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Updates since launch

Diffify has had a lot of updates since launch, but here are a few of the biggest ones for end users:

  • In response to a comment from our users, we have added an option to diff against an “empty package” (e.g., https://diffify.com/R/rmarkdown/empty/2.14). This enables the user to view all dependencies, exports and functions for a given version. It also means we avoid a blank webpage for packages that only have one version!

empty package

  • To increase the accessibility of the website, we’ve

    • Improved the default text contrast and colours
    • Added an option to select a theme, including a dichromat-friendly colour theme and boosted-contrast theme (the latter is set as the default theme if the user prefers it)
    • Made the app fully accessible via keyboard navigation

    If you’re interested in learning more, check out the recent blog series by our frontend developer Tim!

colour theme

  • The app now looks great on mobile and narrow screens:
    • The left-hand navigation shrinks to a side-bar
    • We’ve fixed some visual bugs
    • Long entries are now scrollable

mobile screenshot

  • We’ve made some improvements to readability:

    • In the Namespace section, export type is now labelled to the right of each entry
    • In response to a comment on Twitter, we have reduced the whitespace between sections
    • In the Functions section, the “Arguments” dropdown is now replaced with a “No arguments” label if a function does not have any arguments
  • We’ve fixed a number of bugs:

    • The app is now consistent across different browsers
    • We’ve fixed various visual bugs (like NEWS text overlapping with borders)
  • We’ve made some optimisations:

    • The app is more responsive (e.g., “last updated” tooltip appears instantly)
    • Package dropdown suggestions now match from the start of the package name

Looking ahead

We have just completed a huge restructure of our backend code. While this is invisible to our users, it will make it much easier for us to add new languages and package repositories (e.g., bioconductor) in the future!

With that in mind, we are actively expanding Diffify to include Python packages. Stay tuned…


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