Cover image for Tabs vs Spaces: The Verdict is In

Tabs vs Spaces: The Verdict is In

ben profile image Ben Halpern ・3 min read

The Practical Dev asked the simple question "Tabs or spaces?". 16,281 developers weighed in, and we crowned a winner. Tabs are preferred by 54 percent of programmers! (Or, that is to say, 54% of people who voted on this public survey anyone can vote on).

It was really close for a while.

Overall, the feedback was lovely.

Programmers argue over everything: styles, languages, frameworks, text editors, everything. They usually take it pretty seriously, too. Sometimes it is hard to tell if a developer is seriously that outraged over a stupid little detail or they are just being mock outraged, but most of the time they are not kidding.

"Duty Calls"

StackOverflow founder Jeff Atwood penned a nice examination of the whole ordeal in 2009, entitled Death to the Space Infidels!

absurd as it may sound, fighting over whitespace characters and other seemingly trivial issues of code layout is actually justified. Within reason of course -- when done openly, in a fair and concensus building way, and without stabbing your teammates in the face along the way.

Choose tabs, choose spaces, choose whatever layout conventions make sense to you and your team. It doesn't actually matter which coding styles you pick. What does matter is that you, and everyone else on your team, sticks with those conventions and uses them consistently.

That said, only a moron would use tabs to format their code.

Arguing on the internet is kind of ridiculous, but standards and conventions are important for programmers and we should try to establish and defend them (to the death?). We do a lot of collaboration, and we need to agree on as much as possible so we can go forth and be productive. But like other humans, we can never agree on anything and end up waging an ongoing metaphoric war.


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felipehoffa profile image
Felipe Hoffa

let's solve the question with data: