Tab wars revisited (was Re: Python indentation)

Mike C. Fletcher mcfletch at
Wed Jul 7 23:44:59 CEST 2004

Jarek Zgoda wrote:

>Istvan Albert <ialbert at> pisze:
>>>Ambiguity sucks but a SPACE is a SPACE is a SPACE.
>>Is there a reason why a TAB is not a TAB is not a TAB?
>Because TAB is TAB and not 8 * SPACE nor 4 * SPACE nor 2 * SPACE. In
>editor you don't see a TAB, you see 8 * SPACE or 4 * SPACE or 2 * SPACE
>or any number of spaces you set in your editor options. There's no
>display character for TAB, it is substituted by SPACES.
>As you see, TAB is down, while spaces are up. Resistance is futile. You
>will be assimilated.
Nope.  People have been telling me to use spaces in my Python for 
*years*, and I'm nowhere near assimilated.  The number of silly 
occasions where hitting <del> or <backspace> to remove a tab works where 
the editor doesn't pick up an attempt to remove 4-or-so-spaces keeps me 
going back to the simple "a tab is an indent" approach.  The simple fact 
( ;) I know, it's a holy war, there are no facts, but I feel like 
tweaking the spacies) is that having 3 or 4 or 2 or 8 characters 
represent the concept "indentation level" is just silly when you've got 
the single character representation available.

Oh, and decent editors (hint: PythonWin rules), that is, those based on 
Scintilla (almost every Python-specific IDE) *do* have a character for 
displaying <tab>, it's an elongated arrow that looks surprisingly like 
the arrow on my keyboard's tab key :) .  BTW the fact that I can set the 
display of an indentation level (tab) to whatever width I like is a 
*benefit* :) .

Of course, normally I just tell people telling me to switch "sure, I 
could change, but I have more Python code than you[1], so *you* conform" 
;) ,

[1] And, generally speaking, this is true, as anyone who has written 
more Python is almost certainly one of us old-timers and would never 
think of starting this silly thread *again*... :)

  Mike C. Fletcher
  Designer, VR Plumber, Coder

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