[erlang-questions] Controversial subject of the day: tabs and spaces for indentation

Björn-Egil Dahlberg <>
Wed Feb 5 20:00:27 CET 2014

This is a war worth winning but it feels like every battle has been a 
loss so far ..

As a member of the OTP-team and the *only* vim user, I can say that the 
rest of OTP has utter disinterest to change the current format. (or so 
it seems anyway =)

I guess Emacs does not allow indentation to be anything other than horrible.

Every time I've brought it up there is whining about some precious 
little elisp file that can't handle the change.

I've gotten harassed on the number of '%' comment characters I'm 
supposed to use for different context .. otherwise Emacs just explodes 
.. or something.

Ok, so perhaps I'm being a bit dramatic here =)

The truth is that a lot of code in otp is emacs:ified - that is the 
convention. I think it's bad - but i've managed.

Tabs are problematic because code-rendering tools for reviewing code has 
a lot of issues with it. *We should remove them*, but I'll guess hell 
will freeze over well before that happens.

// Björn-Egil

On 2014-02-05 19:35, Garrett Smith wrote:
> On Wed, Feb 5, 2014 at 12:27 PM, Andrew Thompson <> wrote:
>> On Wed, Feb 05, 2014 at 07:14:30PM +0100, Vlad Dumitrescu wrote:
>>> Hi all,
>>> It's been almost a full day since the last controversial issue was
>>> discussed here and I feel it's time for a new one (well, it's actually
>>> old).
>>> The default indentation used by the erlang-mode uses a mix of tabs and
>>> spaces. Whatever side one is in the "tabs vs spaces" war, mixing them
>>> is the common enemy!
>> As a vim user, I find the emacs indent mode for erlang incredibly
>> annoying to 'fake' by hand. I'd love to see the tabs die as mixing tabs
>> and spaces makes erlang files a horrible mess when your tabstop is not
>> 8.
> I'm curious what the argument *for* mixed tabs and spaces is. It is to
> save precious disk space?
> Garrett
> P.S. I agree, going two to three days without religious material on
> the Erlang list is, well, it's just hard to go back now.
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