Who are the "spacists"?

Steve D'Aprano steve+python at pearwood.info
Sun Mar 19 13:29:22 EDT 2017

On Mon, 20 Mar 2017 01:27 am, Grant Edwards wrote:

> On 2017-03-18, Nathan Ernst <nathan.ernst at gmail.com> wrote:
>> 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.
> What about all other other text tools that _aren't_ 'code focused
> editors'?  (e.g. grep, less, cat, awk, sed, a2ps, asciidoc, etc.)

I wonder whether the tabs versus spaces divide is closely aligned to the
Windows versus Unix/Linux divide?

It seems to me that Unix users are typically going to be using Unix tools
which often assume spaces are used for indentation, and consequently cope
badly with tabs. I maintain that makes them "broken" tools, but broken or
not, that's the status quo and Unix users will simply deal with it by using
spaces for indents.

On the other hand, the typical Windows developer probably has little or no
access to grep, less, sed, etc, and consequently doesn't fear using tabs in
source code. Since nothing is going to touch it apart from either Notepad
or the IDE, there's no problem with using tabs.

Back when dinosaurs ruled the earth, and I had a Macintosh (classic OS, not
OS X) it was normal to use tabs for indents. Likewise when I had a Windows
machine. It was only when I moved to Linux that I had "tabs are bad,
m'kay?" beaten into me, with the main justification being "tabs will break
your tools".

I'm not even sure that it is true that tabs will break the Unix toolset. But
Unix users mostly *believe* it is true.

“Cheer up,” they said, “things could be worse.” So I cheered up, and sure
enough, things got worse.

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