[TUHS] 80 columns ...

Jon Steinhart jon at fourwinds.com
Sat Nov 11 07:02:55 AEST 2017


Larry McVoy writes:
> On Fri, Nov 10, 2017 at 12:43:36PM -0800, Jon Steinhart wrote:
> > Toby Thain writes:
> > > Just don't move on without some limit. There are real
> > > cognitive/typographic reasons why excessively long lines hurt
> > > comprehension. This is why both 500 year old books and 5 month old books
> > > have narrow measures.
> > > 
> > > 80 might be too narrow for most, but at some point beyond 132 is "too
> > > far". :)
> > 
> > Well, I would claim that books have technological limitations that are
> > different than computer monitors.  It's a matter of doing what's appropriate
> > instead of taking a dogmatic approach.
> > 
> > I will point out that while it's sometimes a pain, the reader/writer ratio
> > is a major driving force.  I save on typing and use very terse code when
> > writing stuff for myself.  But, when writing stuff where there are many
> > readers I feel that it's my job to put in the extra work to make it more
> > accessible to the reader, partly because I don't want the readers bugging me.
> 
> So for the Nth time, there are people who read, I'm one of them,
> by looking down the middle of the text and getting the rest through
> peripheral vision.  I read easily 3-4x faster than a decently fast reader
> and I get enough info that I can find the place where I need to go read
> more closely later.
> 
> I can't imagine I'm the only person who does this, I'm special but not
> that special :)  So for me, wider is optimizing me out, not optimizing
> for me.

Well, as someone who also reads I don't really understand how your point
relates to 80 columns.  It sounds to me that you're making an argument
for something else in which I strongly believe, which is that the block
structure of the code should be clearly visible so that a reader doesn't
have to read every line in order to understand what's going on.  As an
example, I abhor styles that say that continuations of long lines should
be indented either an extra tab or right-aligned with the first line.
Both of those styles break the visible block structure.

Jon


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