To <space> or <tab> or not :-)

Molle Bestefich molle.bestefich at
Mon Jun 5 07:34:36 CDT 2006

> isn't it rather insane to require specific editor settings
> just to be able to *view* the code?

It's a necessity for some editors.

The TAB setting can be embedded in ASCII files, there are various
magic comments that will cause vim and emacs to switch to a readable
tabs setting.

What is insane is 8 characters per tab.

IMHXP 2 characters is too little to quickly make out the indentation.
3 and 4 are both fine choices.  4 wastes slightly more horizontal
space, so I prefer 3.

8 is just nuts, it was probably written by someone who hates tabs and
wants to use it as an argument to convince everybody to convert to

Using spaces in place of tabs is bad, because you have to press
<backspace> and <space> so much the more, wasting your time and
tearing your fingers.  And there's a higher risk of misaligning
something - you have to pay more attention, which again is a waste of
your time.

You loose fine-grained control when you use tabs instead of spaces,
but fine-grained control also means a jungle of bizarre rules about
when-and-where-to-do-fine-grained-indenting, so it never pays off,
rather it always ends up ruining the indentation anyway.  By far the
easiest solution is to just use tabs, and just indent codelines that
span more than a screenful (7x chars or what not) with an extra tab.

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