Subject: Re: Time to update KNF?
To: Jonathan Stone <jonathan@DSG.Stanford.EDU>
From: Greg Hudson <ghudson@MIT.EDU>
List: tech-kern
Date: 01/18/2000 10:47:03
> Second, on readability and comprehensibility, I find two spaces is
> simply too little. Try reading glibc code sometime; two spaces is
> just not enough.  _If_ we decide to change, and M$ data says four
> spaces are as legible as two, I put in a strong plea for four.

So, I have a couple of cents to throw in.

First, when I started working for my group at MIT, most of the
programmers in the group preferred the gnu indentation style, so we
standardized on that.  I thought I would hate it (being a four-space
K&R-style man by nature), but after a surprisingly short adjustment
period I found that it was just as readable as what I was used to.

So it may be that the studies Mike Cheponis cited weren't much more
than a popularity contest; if most of the participants were used to
2-4 space indents, then perhaps they'd be able to read them better.
Not having a copy of the original article, I can't be a good judge.

Second, I'll claim that two-space indents make more sense when you're
putting braces at their own level of indentation.  The gnu indentation
style looks like:

	if (foo)
	if (baz)

so complex bodies are actually indented at four spaces.  (Obviously,
some people hate the fact that simple bodies are indented at a
different level than complex bodies; I refer them back to my first

Third, changing the indentation style of the KNF would be awfully
traumatic.  You could say goodbye to automatically applying any
patches from non-reindented code.  Since by all indications
indentation style is a fairly arbitrary choice, I think changing it
would be a big waste of effort.