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Re: OT: Why is C so popular?

On Mon, Sep 01, 2003 at 10:19:18PM -0400, Mark Roach wrote:
> On Mon, 2003-09-01 at 13:26, Colin Watson wrote:
> > As it happens, setting the tabstop option to anything other than 8 does
> > irritate me when editing files containing tabs. I like to keep source
> > code within 80 columns, and mismatched tabstop settings have a habit of
> > screwing that up even if the file doesn't mix tabs and spaces. I've
> > edited files that were perfectly readable on an 80-column display with
> > tabstop=4, and were obviously intended that way, but that were
> > unreadable with a default tabstop. In languages where mixing tabs and
> > spaces is merely a cosmetic problem, the situation is worse yet. Leaving
> > the tab character to represent its historical default of eight spaces
> > simplifies everyone's life and means you can spend your life on more
> > productive things than worrying about different kinds of whitespace.
> I can see what you mean. That is part of why I try never to use tabs at
> all, especially in python code. I think both options have their
> appropriate uses, and that for python code where it is uncertain what
> tabs vs spaces will mean in terms of the code operation, spaces-only is
> a reasonable way to go. 
> Am I still way off the mark? Have I missed some other inherent evilness
> in converting tabs to spaces? (Mind you, I am speaking only in reference
> to python coding which is what I thought the conversation was about. if
> not, my mistake)

Well, I don't use Python, so I'm probably guilty of being a little
off-topic. There's one project I maintain that historically used tabs
for indentation before I came to it, and I haven't changed that since it
would result in unreasonable diffs in revision control and make other
things hard to track down. I actually rather like it in some ways: it
forces me to keep the level of indentation down, which in turn seems to
result in more generally readable code.

Nowadays, on average I tend to use expandtab for new code, but
converting tabs to spaces is still an operation that needs to be handled
carefully with respect to revision control, so I don't apply it across
the board.


Colin Watson                                  [cjwatson@flatline.org.uk]

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