Tabs -vs- Spaces: Tabs should have won.

rantingrick rantingrick at
Sun Jul 17 17:15:39 CEST 2011

On Jul 17, 2:32 am, Ian Kelly < at> wrote:

> This.  I used to think that tabs were better, for pretty much the
> reasons Rick outlined, but I've had enough problems with editors
> munging my tabs that I eventually found it simpler in practice to just
> go with the flow and use spaces.


> Of course, there is also another major problem with tabs that I have
> not seen pointed out yet, which is that it's not possible to strictly
> adhere to 80-column lines with tabs.

Of course it is. The litmus test will be "four-space-tab-view". If the
code overflows in this "view type" then the code will fail the 80 char
maximum limit. This argument is ridiculous anyhow. It is up to you how
to view the source. If you view it in 80 width tabs don't start
complaining later when one indention goes off the page. Would you view
the source with 50 point font? Jeez.

>  I can write my code to 80
> columns using 4-space tabs, but if somebody later tries to edit the
> file using 8-space tabs, their lines will be too long.

THEIR LINES is the key words. A tab control is a tab control is a (you
guessed it!) a tab control. No matter how small or large your tab
settings are the source only reflects one tab control char per press
of the tab key. Heck, people are already (unwisely) using "8-space-
spaces" and i don't hear you making the same argument.

> Rick's answer
> to this might be to just mandate that everybody uses 4-space tabs, but
> then this would pretty much defeat the purpose of using tabs in the
> first place.

We already mandate four space spaces so what is the difference? I'll
tell you, the difference is Freedom and Unity living in perfect

Yes, we mandate that all code must meet the 80 line limit in "four-
space-tab-view", and if it doesn't, it's not allowed in the stdlib.
Plain and simple.

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