Coding standards / spaces vs tabs
pgoetz at mail.utexas.edu
Thu Oct 21 16:54:23 EDT 2010
On 10/21/2010 7:10 AM, Bron Gondwana wrote:
>> set tabstop=3
>> set expandtab
> 3? Why three?
Einstein said "make everything as simple as possible, but not too
simple". I think a similar principle applies to indentation: indent as
little as possible, but not too little.
When I first started coding again 10 years ago because both the
programmers I was working with abruptly quit for personal reasons,
leaving me (and the client) in the lurch, I inherited a bunch of code
where tab was used exclusively to indent. In my opinion, tab = 8
characters indentation is ridiculously unreadable. With just 3 or 4
nested blocks your lines start halfway across the page, increasing line
breaks. When I discovered tabstop and expandtab in vim, I realized that
I could make the indentation anything I damn well pleased and it would
automatically be invoked in any file I edited. And since I was the only
one working on the code at this point, my opinion was the only one that
mattered. After playing around a bit, glancing at a bunch of code to
make sure nested blocks "jumped out" visually, etc., I determined that
-- at least for me -- 3 spaces was the optimal number; 2 wasn't enough,
Re: using 8 space tabs. This is the point where someone says "what are
you talking about? Everyone has 24" 1900x1200 monitors these days; you
can have a terminal which is 300 characters wide!" Yes, and I can also
go blind staring at it 8 hours a day -- I'll pass.
Re: using tabs for indentation at all: especially given the somewhat
disturbing growing ubiquity of python, getting in the habit of using
tabs for indentation is like giving a box of matches and a stick of
dynamite to your pet monkey. It seems innocuous enough, but sooner or
later a tragedy will occur. Mixing tabs and spaces;especially given
that the width of tabs is user-definable? Add to the preceding showing
the monkey how to light the matches and throw in a couple of liters of
gasoline. And yes, I'm aware that Makefiles require tabs; this is just
one more indication that make is obsolete and needs to be rewritten from
scratch using modern programming paradigms.
I know talking about indentation is like starting a "vi vs. emacs --
which is better?" discussion, but you asked.
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