Non-Indented python

Huaiyu Zhu huaiyu at
Tue Nov 27 02:27:15 CET 2001

On Sat, 24 Nov 2001 21:25:22 -0500, Peter Hansen <peter at> wrote:
>Dave Cinege wrote:
>> On Saturday 24 November 2001 9:21, Peter Hansen wrote:
>> > Unfortunately, since the definition of a tab is ambiguous and
>> > inconsistent,
>> # ascii tab
>> ASCII 0/9 is decimal 009, hex 09, octal 011, bits 00001001: called ^I, HT, TAB
>> Official name: Character Tabulation
>> Other names: Horizontal Tab, \t
>> It's what it's always been for at least 30 years...
>You really don't actually understand the point everyone is 
>making here, do you?  I thought you were just being "in your face"
>for effect, but now I see you're lost.

I think you are missing one point that half of the people here are saying:

- That there is no reason to associate tab with any equivalent in spaces.
  It should only be used as a distinct character in its own right.

- That the problems with different tab-sizes are all caused by people
  presuming tab can be used as a short hand for spaces.

>Yes, the above is what people call a tab.  That doesn't say anything
>about the uses to which people (and software) put it.  It is *that* 
>which is ambiguous and inconsistent.  Didn't that get through
>in the dozen other messages on the subject?  Or are you currently
>in a mode where you jump on perhaps-sloppy use of words instead
>of concentrating on the intended meaning?

There is no problem in using it the right way - as a place-holder of
indentation level.  It can be displayed anyway you want, as long as you do
not _assume_ the writer and reader will ever display them the same way in
terms of spaces.

If you get around the notion that tab can ever be translated into spaces in
a _universal_ way, you'll find that all the problems dissappear.

For example, got a problem with mixing tab and space?  Well, just don't do
it.  They are two different characters.  It's the same as mixing w with vv
or mixing m with rn.  If this is enforced with the same strictness there
would be no more problem with mixing tab and space than mixing w and vv.

>Tab, tabstop, whatever.  There's no "tab" in the binary world either.
>Just ones and zeros.

Nonesense.  There does exist a tab character, which is _defined_ as a
combination of zeros and ones.  What has that to do with tabstop, which is a
horizontal postition? 

>Once again, the point you missed is that tabs are sometimes 
>treated (by software) in such a way as to advance the cursor
>other than to the next multiple of 8 (which effect I was calling 
>the tabstop, so I wouldn't get jumped on by people like you for 
>saying tabs represented a fixed 8 spaces).

Why would it matter to you how other people are displaying a particular
character on screen?  They could just as well display it as red circle
inside a blue star followed by a yellow triangle inside a green square.  As
long as this character is encoded correctly all the programs they sent you
will display on your screen the way you want to.

Where is the inconsistency you are complaining about?  

Unless you were sharing code by taking screenshot of editors and sending
the graphics around ...  :-)

>I strongly suspect, based on your other postings, you are just
>trolling here, trying in a really obscure way to say that you
>think discussion of tab "sizes" is just a religious discussion.
>If that's all you're contributing, consider your point made
>and please stop the ranting.

I think his point is quite clear.  The reason you do not see it that way is
because, IMHO, you have not seriously considered the possibility that people
might be arguing for the position that tabs can be used consistently without
a defined equivalence as spaces.


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