[TxMt] Re: Indent size different from tab size

Jacob Rus jrus at hcs.harvard.edu
Thu Nov 9 03:41:10 UTC 2006

Let me clarify...

Jacob Rus wrote:
> Curt Sampson wrote:
>> It's not just emacs; this is very common in vi as well. [...]
>> 1. There's no standard for carrying the tab size around with the file. 
>> Given any file, there's no way to tell if it uses 8 or 4 column tabs without 
>> manually inspecting it. [...]

This is an argument against using tabs at all

>> In this situation, if you're not using the original coders [sic] tab 
>> size, you end up with the stuff at the right-hand not lining up.

This is also an argument against using tabs

> Ok, fine.  Changing tab size could be bad, if someone still is using 
> some random editor no one has ever heard of, which can't handle any tab 
> size other than 8.  So what's the benefit to coding like this instead of 
> just using spaces?  Is it just saving a few bytes?

To clarify my statement, so there are no ruffled feathers: Every editor 
worth its salt can interpret tabs to be any desired size.  This includes 
bbedit, emacs, vim, and textmate.  But emacs (and apparently vim) want 
to do this odd dance where you use 4-space tabs, but replace pairs of 
them with literal tab characters to save 7 bytes.  This just seems 
absurd to me.  Can you give any rational explanation why anyone would 
want to do this?


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