[Mono-list] Class Library coding standards

Nate Case nd@kracked.com
18 Jul 2001 19:30:26 -0500

On 18 Jul 2001 19:01:10 -0500, Tomas Restrepo wrote:
> Hi Sean,
> > * We'd like to see 8 space tabs.  If you leave the tab character, that
> > is also fine.
> Personally, I dislike 8 space tabs inmensly (4 is really my top limit :).
> It's a pita to use in cases like this on which namespace-decl + class-decl +
> method-decl already bring up three levels of indentation, for a nice total
> of 24 wasted spaces. Specially bad if you're like me and like your code not
> to go beyond 80 columns so it's easy to print :)

Here is an excerpt from the Linux kernel coding style document (see

Tabs are 8 characters, and thus indentations are also 8 characters. 
There are heretic movements that try to make indentations 4 (or even 2!)
characters deep, and that is akin to trying to define the value of PI to
be 3. 

Rationale: The whole idea behind indentation is to clearly define where
a block of control starts and ends.  Especially when you've been looking
at your screen for 20 straight hours, you'll find it a lot easier to see
how the indentation works if you have large indentations. 

Now, some people will claim that having 8-character indentations makes
the code move too far to the right, and makes it hard to read on a
80-character terminal screen.  The answer to that is that if you need
more than 3 levels of indentation, you're screwed anyway, and should fix
your program. 

In short, 8-char indents make things easier to read, and have the added
benefit of warning you when you're nesting your functions too deep. 
Heed that warning. 
I'd say this view is fairly widely adopted among the open source
community, but of course many people still disagree.  Nevertheless, it's
what we use for Gnome as well.  The only type of arguments I can sort of
understand against it in this situation is C# vs. C issues (if for some
reason it's impossible to keep C# code under 80 columns with 8-space

Nate Case <nd@kracked.com>