Swift Package Index

Swift implementation of Paul Heckel's diff technique.

  • The latest stable release is 1.2.1. Released 7 months ago.
  • The last commit to master was 7 months ago.

Swift Version Compatibility

  • 1.2.1 and master
Full build results

Platform Compatibility

  • 1.2.1 and master
Full build results


Is a very efficient diff algorithm implementend in Swift with linear complexity in both time and space.

Based on Paul Heckel's paper: A technique for isolating differences between files.

Given two different arrays, A and B, what steps A has to make to become B?

PHDiff can answer that by calculating the needed Inserts, Deletes, Moves and Updates!

PHDiff can also provide batch updates for UITableView and UICollectionView changes, it can be used right on the main queue because it's lightning fast.


  • iOS 8.0+ / macOS 10.10+ / tvOS 9.0+ / watchOS 2.0+
  • Xcode 11.0+
  • Swift 5.0+



To integrate PHDiff into your Xcode project using CocoaPods, specify it in your Podfile:


target '<Your Target Name>' do
    pod 'PHDiff', '~> 1.2'


To integrate PHDiff into your Xcode project using Carthage, specify it in your Cartfile:

github "andre-alves/PHDiff" ~> 1.2

Run carthage update to build the framework and drag the built PHDiff.framework into your Xcode project.

Swift Package Manager

The Swift Package Manager is a tool for automating the distribution of Swift code and is integrated into the swift compiler.

Once you have your Swift package set up, adding PHDiff as a dependency is as easy as adding it to the dependencies value of your Package.swift.

dependencies: [
    .package(url: "https://github.com/andre-alves/PHDiff.git", .upToNextMajor(from: "1.2.0"))


Simple copy the .swift files from the folder Sources to your project.


Depending of the installation method, you may need to import PHDiff in the files that you use it:

import PHDiff

PHDiff provides two methods: PHDiff.sortedSteps(fromArray:toArray:) and PHDiff.steps(fromArray:toArray:) and they both return an array of DiffSteps:

public enum DiffStep<T> {
    case insert(value: T, index: Int)
    case delete(value: T, index: Int)
    case move(value: T, fromIndex: Int, toIndex: Int)
    case update(value: T, index: Int)

PHDiff.sortedSteps(fromArray:toArray:) calculates Inserts, Deletes and Updates in a sorted way that can be applied to the first array to transform it into the second array.

let a = ["a", "b", "c", "d"]
let b = ["e", "a", "d"]
let steps = PHDiff.sortedSteps(fromArray: a, toArray: b)
//[Delete c at index: 2, Delete b at index: 1, Insert e at index: 0]
print(a.apply(steps: steps))
//["e", "a", "d"]

PHDiff.steps(fromArray:toArray:) calculates Inserts, Deleted, Moves and Updates to be used only with batch operations (i.e: UITableView and UICollectionView batch updates).

    private func updateTableView(newColors: [DemoColor]) {
        let steps = PHDiff.steps(fromArray: self.colors, toArray: newColors)

        if steps.count > 0 {
            self.colors = newColors // update your model here

            var insertions: [IndexPath] = []
            var deletions: [IndexPath] = []
            var reloads: [IndexPath] = []

            steps.forEach { step in
                switch step {
                case let .insert(_, index):
                    insertions.append(IndexPath(row: index, section: 0))
                case let .delete(_, index):
                    deletions.append(IndexPath(row: index, section: 0))
                case let .move(_, fromIndex, toIndex):
                    deletions.append(IndexPath(row: fromIndex, section: 0))
                    insertions.append(IndexPath(row: toIndex, section: 0))
                case let .update(_, index):
                    reloads.append(IndexPath(row: index, section: 0))

            tableView.insertRows(at: insertions, with: .automatic)
            tableView.deleteRows(at: deletions, with: .automatic)
            tableView.reloadRows(at: reloads, with: .automatic)


  • Both methods are linear in complexity and space.
  • Do not apply the result from steps(fromArray:toArray:) to the 'fromArray'. The result is not sorted in a way that it expects the indexes offset changes caused by each other step. If you need this type of result, use sortedSteps instead.

In order to diff your models, they need to conform to the Diffable protocol:

Diffable Protocol

Diffable extends the Equatable protocol by providing one diffIdentifier. It can be a String, Int or anything that conforms to the Hashable protocol. You can think of it as a unique key to represent your object.

struct DemoColor: Diffable {
    let name: String
    let r: Float
    let g: Float
    let b: Float
    var diffIdentifier: String {
        return name

func ==(lhs: DemoColor, rhs: DemoColor) -> Bool {
    return lhs.name == rhs.name && lhs.r == rhs.r && lhs.b == rhs.b && lhs.g == rhs.g

Note: if your model conforms to Hashable, it does not need to implement diffIdentifier.


Diffing two random generated arrays of length 1000 each:

Performance Test

Tested on MacBook Pro (Retina, 13-inch, Mid 2014) - 2.6 GHz Intel Core i5.


Dwifft - I used the same enum name 'DiffStep'.

IGListKit - I used the concept of the protocol Diffable and a small optimization to avoid unnecessary steps.


PHDiff is released under the MIT license. See LICENSE for details.