Who are the "spacists"?

Nathan Ernst nathan.ernst at gmail.com
Sat Mar 18 19:16:31 EDT 2017

On Sat, Mar 18, 2017 at 4:44 PM, ROGER GRAYDON CHRISTMAN <dvl at psu.edu>

> Just a couple minor notes from my experience:
> 1)
> Some of the course management software I use doesn't like me typing tab
> characters.
> When I want to post sample code into a course page using this software,
> tabs
> are either
> ignored or does something really broken (like post an incomplete file).
> So, I
> must necessarily
> type spaces when posting that code -- and of course, downloading that
> sample
> from the page
> has spaces in it instead of tabs.
> Point in favor of using spaces.

Then your course management software is broken, and should be fixed. This
is not a valid argument against tabs, although it may make it more
convenient to use spaces for you.

> 2)
> Tabs are one byte; spaces are one byte; so unless all of your indents are
> only
> one space at a time,
> a source file with tabs takes less memory than a source file with tabs.
> It's not a significant difference.
> Very minor point in favor of using tabs.
> I'm still a spacer myself.
> --
> https://mail.python.org/mailman/listinfo/python-list

The size of tab vs space is a novel argument, but generally specious. Yes,
it may matter in certain circumstances, but it's not generally valid (and I
say this with a tab preferrence).

As I said earlier, where tabs are superior in that most code focused
editors (at least those worth using) allow you to adjust the width of the
tab. I'm not aware of a single editor that allows you to adjust the
indentation of multiple spaces, let alone in the face of sources with mixed
space indentations in the same codebase. Again, I've seen 2, 3 and 4 spaced
identations. Really f***ing annoying to see that in a single codebase. It's
even worse when you get files edited by two different people with different
styles and their white space changes happen to work because the entire
block is within their preferred style. (yes, I've seen 3-spaced indents
mixed with 2-spaced idents and 4-spaced indents all within a single file!)
Tabs rectify this issue as you can configure them to appear how you like to
see your code without affecting or impacting any other contributors to a
code base.

Personally, I used to be a 4-spacer. Now, I prefer 2 spaces. Guess what?
When I changed my preference, zero lines of source were changed, no commits
were necessary, and I was happy.

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