Tab wars revisited (was Re: Python indentation)

Tor Iver Wilhelmsen tor.iver.wilhelmsen at
Thu Jul 8 20:33:47 CEST 2004

Thomas Bellman <bellman at> writes:

> Up to the next tab stop, and tab stops are placed at every 8th
> column.  No more, no less.

I think you mean the 8th column of the punch card, old timer.

> Because that's the way it has been since time eternal.

It has been that way for punch cards and Fortran-programmers using
Teletypes (the early paper-based character terminals that the "tty"
term in Unix comes from).

> Every terminal I have seen have had tab stops at every 8th column.

As well they should; a lot of ancient software depends on it.

> Every printer I have encountered does the same (if it supports plain
> text ASCII, that is; EBCDIC printers is of course a different
> matter, but Python doesn't support EBCDIC anyway).

As well they should; a lot of ancient software depends on it.

> The character code 91 (decimal) is by its very nature configurable
> what it means. For instance, some years ago here in Sweden it was
> popular to configure your display device to show it as a capital
> letter A with diaresis. Yet, Python absolutely believes that it is
> an opening square parenthesis.

Much like a TAB meaning tab stop every 8 characters, the ISO 646 you
refer to is DEAD - except for the one map that corresponds to US

> The fact that some people are doing broken things (configuring their
> editors to have tab stops at other than every 8th column) is not
> enough for me to give up tabs. It is *their* problem if they do such
> stupid things.


Let me guess, you hated the advancement of proportional fonts as well?

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