[erlang-questions] Off-topic: source code width and tab stops

Toby Thain <>
Mon Mar 19 19:29:57 CET 2007


On 19-Mar-07, at 3:08 PM, David Hopwood wrote:

> ok wrote:
>> On 16 Mar 2007, at 8:36 am, Vance Shipley wrote:
>>> ok wrote:
>>
>>>>  Source files should be kept to a maximum width of 80 columns;
>>
>>> A number of years ago I would have whole heartedly agreed
>>> but no longer.  A few years ago I did a project which used
>>> ASN.1 and it ended up having really long names which I did
>>> not have the luxury of choosing.  It became impractical to
>>> use 80 column pages.  I did all my work in 132 column windows
>>> for that project.  I now find I really prefer working that
>>> way as I have plenty of glass these days.  I wouldn't however
>>> unecessarily force others into it.
>>
>> The psychology-of-reading results really do seem to be clear this  
>> time -
>> narrower columns really ARE easier to read.
>
> Narrow columns of natural-language text are easier to read. For
> programming languages, statements or expressions that have to be
> split over more than one line are more difficult to read.

As a typographer I was going to make a similar clarification. Agreed.

> The extent
> of the difficulty, and the frequency of long lines, is programming
> language-dependent. Unlike natural-language texts, *most* lines are
> short regardless of the window width.
>
> For C and Java, I find that a window width of less than 100 columns
> is impractical. I haven't written enough in Erlang to come to a firm
> conclusion in that case.


To me, it seems to mix very short and very long lines, more than say, C.

--Toby

>
> [...]
>> I don't care what keys you press to make indentation happen (the  
>> TAB key
>> in Emacs doesn't normally insert a literal tab; Vi uses > and < for
>> changing indentation; Xcode uses Cmd-] and Cmd-[; &c).  You could  
>> do it
>> by clicking your teeth like castanets for all I care.  But if you  
>> want
>> other people to be able to look at your code and see what you see,  
>> any
>> tabstops had better be 8 columns apart, and it is best of all if  
>> there
>> are no tab characters in the file at all.
>
> Agreed.
>
> -- 
> David Hopwood <>
>
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