Larry Wall's comment on python...

James J. Besemer jb at
Thu Sep 26 02:39:15 EDT 2002

Courageous wrote:

>>Once upon a time, a large class of computers, and their attendant 
>>peripherals, OSs and utility programs universally implemented tabs 
>>hard-wired at 8 stops.
>Indeed; such is this issue that I leave hard tabstops as 8 in my
>editor, and set soft tab stops set to 4. 
I'm aware of that technique and I know of others who favor it.  And it 
does give you 4 column stops without having to dink with all your 
printers and other utilities.

Personally, though, I don't care for it.  VI is not my programming 
environment all the time (maybe 50% these days) and some other tools I 
use don't have this feature.  Then I'm stuck running into spaces where I 
don't expect them.

Another editing nit that I use is to cursor left one or some other 
specific number of "indents" and then cursor up or down to where the 
enclosing code lines up.  If you have spaces or a mix then half the time 
you have 3 extra character positions to move to get where you need to be.  

Incidentally, mixing spaces and tabs is officially less desirable in the 
official code style guides than tabs or spaces.

All my life I've relied on indent being 1 tab and I'm too old to change 
that, though I can live with 4 char tab stops.  When I make slight 
tweaks to other people's program, I always strive to honor the 
pre-existing standards.  If I'm doing a lot of work, then I might well 
convert to all tabs while I'm working on it and convert back, if 
necessary, to whatever standard the customer requires.  Code I write 
just for myself of course generally is all tabbed at 8 columns.

But I'm NOT telling you what you should do.  You do what you want.  



James J. Besemer		503-280-0838 voice
2727 NE Skidmore St.		503-280-0375 fax
Portland, Oregon 97211-6557	mailto:jb at	

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