Tabs -vs- Spaces: Tabs should have won.

Cameron Simpson cs at
Sun Jul 17 06:12:23 CEST 2011

On 17Jul2011 13:09, Steven D'Aprano <steve+comp.lang.python at> wrote:
| 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?

Neither. We can learn from the sage Dumpty, who writes:

  `When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, `it
  means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less.'

| > 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.

Shrug. I imagine it's enough to be useful. An 80 column display gets 8
tab stops (not counting the edges). Personally I find 8 a little more
than I would like, but 6 is displeasing and 4 may be frustratingly small
for some users. I used to indent in 3s at uni, 5 is odd, 7 is just weird
and 2 seems almost not worth the effort. And 1 is taken.

Today's lesson is brought to you by the number 37, the lowest arbitrary

| > 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.

Yeah. Worse is at least reliable in this scheme.

Cameron Simpson <cs at> DoD#743

It is time. Awaken, sleepers, for yet another herd of slow moving prey has
swept into Peevetown, unaware of the sure fate of the fools that disturb the
inhabitants. Shall it be a rending of flesh, and the lamentations of the
sorely afflicted, or shall we be buried in a sea of drivel?
        - Woulffe <shampton at>

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