Tabs -vs- Spaces: Tabs should have won.

Steven D'Aprano steve+comp.lang.python at
Sat Jul 16 23:09:11 EDT 2011

Cameron Simpson wrote:

> On 16Jul2011 09:51, rantingrick <rantingrick at> trolled:
> |  Evidence: Tabs ARE superior!
> | --------------------------------------------------
> | I have begun to believe that tabs are far more superior to spaces
> Please Rick: you need at least three things to use the term "more
> superior". With only two, you just have superior. It grates.

Really? If you just say "superior", how do you know if it's more superior or
less superior?


> Personally, I prefer spaces to tabs, at least fgor my Python code and
> generally anyway. Why? Well to some extent because I share files with
> another who uses 4 position tabs. Editing these is a real nightmare if
> one uses 8 position tabs (as I do, the common editor/terminal default
> these days). 

I can't fathom why 8 position tabs were *ever* the default, let alone why
they are still the default.

> For pure indentation you may get sane (if wider that liked) 
> results, bit any multicolumn stuff is badly broken by the mismatch.
> Personally, I like to use the tab _key_ as an input device, but to have
> my editor write real spaces to the file in consequence. With pure
> spaces, the text is laid out reliably for us both. And so I have my
> editor set to that behaviour.

I have reluctantly come to do the same thing. There is a plethora of broken
tools out there that don't handle tabs well, and consequently even though
tabs for indentation are objectively better, I use spaces because it is
less worse than the alternative.

Victory of worse-is-better.

> | Some would argue that allowing both tabs and spaces is freedom,
> | however this line of reasoning is flawed. Allowing a programmer to
> | format his code in way he pleases is bad, bad, bad. As a member of a
> | community we must all format our code in the same manner.
> This leads me to think you're just trolling.

Slow learner, huh? :)

I'm not sure which is worse... that Rick is trolling, and we still give him
the attention he craves, or that he honestly believes this crap.

I suspect the later. I get the impression that he genuinely has so little
self-awareness that he doesn't notice that for all his talk about FREEDOM,
he's constantly trying to deny it to others by forcing them to do what he
wants them to do.


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