Structure using whitespace vs logical whitespace conrad.ammon at
Mon Dec 15 17:29:31 CET 2008

I've been trying to search through the years of Python talk to find an
answer to this, but my Googlefu is weak.

In most languages, I'll do something like this


Where the dashes are indentation (since some newsgroup handlers don't
do tabs well).  XML writing is just an example.

In general, I'm using indentation to show logical flow through code.
Python's choice to give semantic meaning to whitespace prevents me
from doing such things.  What was once reserved for logical use is now
used syntactically.  In 90% of cases, its not needed, and whitespace
significance seems to be pretty effective.  In that last 10%, however,
I've been frustrated many times.

I've been using python for a few years, and gotten around this in one
way or another, but now I want to get other who work with me to pick
up Python.  All newbies to Python have trouble with the idea of
whitespace sensitivity, but how can I convince them that "it just
works better" when I have this construct which I want to use but

Has anybody found a way to emulate this behavior?  I've often done it
by opening an expression for the whole thing, but there's a lot of
tasks where a single expression just isn't sufficient (such as things
with assignment).

PS. In my opinion the solution would be to have the option of entering
a "whitespace insensitive" mode which uses C style {} and ;.  The
token to enter it could be as complicated as you want (in fact, it may
make sense to make it complicated to discourage use unless it's really
advantageous).  I'd sugest {{ and }} or something bigger like {={ }
=}.  Only two problems: 1) I'm sure it would offend Guido's sense of
language aesthetics  2) I'm sure the idea has been hashed over on this
newsgroup to death... hence prefering a workaround instead.

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