A Brief Defense of Significant Whitespace
Python 4K post
I want nothing to do with any programmer who would mis-indent
their code. If you want to mis-indent your code you are an
idiot. If you want idiotic code to be an option you are being
This might come off as a little... well, not a friendly way of
saying it. Maybe I'll expand a little:
We all know what "correct" indentation is. Really,
all of us, from every language.
Python enforces only correct indentation (though still with
a certain amount of flexibility). The only hitch is with
multi-line statements. Yet the newline as a statement
terminator doesn't seem controversial. Go figure.
So, Python is enforcing the bare minimum of style. By
"bare minimum" I mean that level of style that
even you will curse yourself for not using, and a
level of style that if you don't conform to will cause
revulsion for anyone else who sees your code.
It's not that hard to indent your code properly. Indenting
improperly is not a big time saver, even for one-off
scripts. Some people say "one-off scripts usually
aren't". But you don't have to say that -- even for
really truly one-off scripts indenting is not hard.
Coming up with stories where it is better not to indent your
code properly is the "absurd" part. It's just not
worth it, and I honestly don't believe anyone rationally
Admittedly, people argue it irrationally. I think they feel
Python is being paternalistic, and they don't like that; it
invokes an emotional response. I think that is doubly
irrational, because there's all sorts of other things Python
requires that people don't worry about -- like case
sensitivity -- simply because programmers are already used
to those things. Why the concern over something even less
controversial than case issues?
Significant whitespace leads to very readable syntax errors.
(Newline terminators also do this, as does
as a statement, and some other syntactic details.)
It really helps programming flow that most all syntax errors
in Python are trivial to detect (at least for an experienced
programmer -- but you don't have to be experienced in Python
to understand syntax errors quickly, you just have to be
experienced in any Algolish language).
Do you really have no memory of how obnoxious some other
languages can be about syntax errors? Like, really really
obnoxious? It's not worth it, especially when the syntax
errors are less helpful because of a complete non-feature
like insignificant whitespace.
Update: I really messed something up and
everyone who submitted comments had them sent into the void.
What baffles me is that people then replied to the empty
comments...? Anyway, sorry about that; fixed now.
Created 08 Mar '06
Modified 08 Mar '06
"What baffles me is that people then replied to the
Is is a whitespace discussion after all ;)