HTML format error - Chapter 8

Bruce Dubbs bdubbs at
Sun Apr 14 07:22:47 PDT 2002

Bill Maltby LFS Related wrote:
> Mark,
> You realize, of course, that using those tab settings puts
> you at odds with He-Who-Walks-on-Water (Linus) who insists
> that tabs=8 and more than three indents indicates that you
> are incompetent. >:-) ... For 'C' only.
> BTW, if tabs 8 gets you more compression, you could have it
> both ways by doing a little conv script go 8 -> 4 tab settings
> when you edit and 4 -> 8 for checking back in.
> The *defacto* standard, for historical reasons, is tabs 8
> for text. More folks will be comfortable with that than any-
> thing else. I personally like four also.
> I wish 'fspec" had survived the cut. It automated tab settings
> in many of the original PWB utilities. Ed, pr, troff, nroff,
> etc. all recognized the fspec and allowed us not to be concerned
> with it.

There was a research paper done in the 80's that compared different 
spacings for comprehension (in source code).  The spacings investigated 
were 0, 2, 4, 6, and 8.  The conclusion was that spacings of 2 and 4 
were the best.  0 was the worst, but 8 was almost as bad.

It issue is eye movement.  If the spacing is too large, the eye has to 
move and makes things harder to read and takes more concentration to 
understand.  The 'standard' of 8 spaces goes back to typewriters made 
inthe 1890s!  Isn't it wonderful that some people want a 2002 computer 
to emulate an 1890's device.

   -- Bruce

Note:  There is a very nice book available titled: A PC is NOT a Typewriter.

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