Who are the "spacists"?

Gregory Ewing greg.ewing at canterbury.ac.nz
Sun Mar 19 17:47:50 EDT 2017

Steve D'Aprano wrote:
> Unix tools
> which often assume spaces are used for indentation, and consequently cope
> badly with tabs. I maintain that makes them "broken" tools,

They're not broken in the context of Unix, where there is a
long-standing convention of assuming tab stops every 8 columns.
 From that point of view, tabs are not formatting instructions,
but are just a way of compressing consecutive spaces.
If tabs are used according to that convention, Unix tools
cope with them just fine.

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

Tabs used according to non-Unix conventions will break Unix
tools. But that doesn't mean the tools themselves are broken,
any more than the fact that putting diesel fuel in a petrol
car damages it means that petrol engines are broken.

Python is in the awkward position of being expected to run
on either petrol or diesel. It copes by requiring a
particularly refined form of fuel, i.e. not mixing tabs
and spaces.


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