Is 78 characters still a good option? Was: [Haskell-cafe] breaking too long lines

Robert Greayer robgreayer at
Tue Apr 21 13:23:32 EDT 2009

Xiao-Yong Jin <xj2106 at> wrote:
> Edward Kmett <ekmett at> writes:
> > I find a hard 80 character line length limit to be
> > somewhat ridiculous in this
> > day and age. I've long since revised my personal
> > rule of thumb upwards towards
> > 132, if only because I can still show two windows of
> > that side by side with no
> > worries, along with all the IDE browsing baggage, even
> > on a fairly crippled
> > laptop, and I've been able to have 132 columns
> > since I picked up my first
> > vt220 terminal in 1984 or so.
> >  
> I prefer 3 coding windows side by side.  And being able to
> read one line at a glance is a huge advantage.  The size of
> my urxvt is 80x77 FYI.

But the discussion is about a coding standard -- surely if I claimed to like to have 4 windows side by side, that wouldn't be a good reason to reduce the standard to 40 columns?  Being able to read one line 'at a glance' seems to me to be improved if that line contains the complete equation, rather than just a fragment.  Comprehension of a group of related equations can be improved if they all fit on one screen (vertically).  Some code that I've written is intended to look like (and function as) rewrite rules  and looks vastly better with pattern and replacement all on the same line.  All the arguments can cut both ways -- for those who like coding with windows side by side, what about those who like coding with one window above another? Coding style is very situational, but the 80 character standard came about due to a once-ubiquitous device limitation (which no longer exists).

The *real* purpose of a coding standard, of course, is to give people something to argue over when they could be actually doing something more productive.  So in the end, it's all good, I suppose.


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