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From Michael Dick <>
Subject [DISCUSS] Change line length code convention
Date Mon, 08 Jun 2009 14:50:29 GMT
Starting a separate thread to discuss the merit of 80 / 100 / 120 / {your
favorite length here} line lengths as a code convention.

Since the project started we've adhered to the Sun code conventions [1] and
recently introduced changes that enforce this length for source and test
code. This "archaic" limitation has been problematic in many areas, ie
generated metamodel classes.

I think we can all agree that having some limit to line length is a benefit
and the real contention is about the specific width in question.

Sun's conventions justify 80 characters as being required for some terminals
and tools. The debate has been taken up on several other sites [2],[3], with
other justifications listed :
  * dispersed development team (some people still have 13" laptop screens)
  * it's easier to have multiple files open
  * going past 80 characters indicates a problem with the code. (ed. comment
  * printer friendly
  * plenty more justifications mainly from the comments sections.

I am not terribly bothered about where we set the limit so long as we decide
on one and stick to it. Regarding this limit I think Aaron Rubin [4] said it
best on the python-ideas list (he was talking about how to break lines
though) :

>* >> This is an unsupported, and IMHO largely incorrect, assumption.
*>* >> Several correspondents have noted that they most often overrun their
*>* >> intended line length by one or two characters.  Just as there's
*>* >> nothing magical about the number "80", there's nothing magical about
*>* >> "81" or "82" either.  In a regime of 90-character lines, the limit
*>* >> will most often be exceeded by one or two characters.  The same will
*>* >> happen in a regime of 100-character lines, etc.  We'll still need to
*>* >> break lines, and wrapping them in parentheses will still be the best
*>* >> way to do that.

We started with 80 character columns and I don't think there's a compelling
reason to change. I may be in the minority though, and if other devs feel
strongly about this issue I'd encourage them to reply to this thread. If
there's sufficient interest in a wider margin we can then start a [VOTE]



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