HTML format error - Chapter 8

Bill Maltby LFS Related lfsbill at
Sun Apr 14 08:10:00 PDT 2002


If, like me, you can discuss these things incessantly, let's
continue on lfs-chat. I know the discussion is somewhat
pointless, but I find topics like this interesting. I cc'd

Comments are below.

Nice (and surprised) to receive a reply on this.

Be good,

Bill Maltby
billm at

On Sun, 14 Apr 2002, Bruce Dubbs wrote:

> 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 wouldn't surprise me if it was Bell Labs - a *great* org.

I never did a study, but I knew I could (subjectively) scan
C and sh code *faster* and spot what I was looking for with
tabs at 4. It's nice to be validated after all this time.

> 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.

Yes. Long after I got comfortable with tabs at 4, I began considering
things like eye movement, association of related elements, etc. in
my design of screens for the users. But I never really (conciously)
put that together with what had become comfortable for me. Curious.
My mind is usually a pretty good associative processor.

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

Apparently a *lot* of ppl have never read it. :P *blush*

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