[TUHS] 80 columns ...

Warner Losh imp at bsdimp.com
Sat Nov 11 06:46:30 AEST 2017

On Fri, Nov 10, 2017 at 1:39 PM, Larry McVoy <lm at mcvoy.com> wrote:

> > > Separate from this, I think that the whole 80 column thing is a bit
> silly.
> > > I have used 132 as by default for a long time now.
> >
> > 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.
> I've made that point and people blithely ignore it.

When I was debating style wars in the 90's, we adopted a 'wide is OK'
approach, but with a soft limit of ~130 and a hard limit of 160 in
exceptional cases. There was some research that showed that there's a
limited field of view you want to be able to look at the code without
moving your eyes side to side, just up and down. With the technology of the
time, above about 130 would be hard to read 'at a glance'. Years later, I
went looking for those studies, and couldn't find them and the original
advocate of the view couldn't provide them.

I'm the first to admit that 80 is too few. But 200 is definitely too wide
and 100-120 seems to still be the sweet spot for my eyes and the range of
hardware that I use.

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