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The 80 Column Coding Rule

· by Shantanu Goel · Read in about 2 min · (287 Words)
C Code coding guidelines vim

I’ve followed the 80 column rule almost always when I code, i.e., I keep a soft limit of keeping my lines of my code limited to 80 characters max. unless breaking up the line really messes up the readability of the code.

I was asked recently why do I bother now in this age of 24” widescreen monitors (and above) with resolutions of 720p at the bare minimum. I could certainly afford to have more than double that limit staring back at me from the screen without overflowing. Then, am I just being pedantic in following this religiously? Am I not wasting precious screen real estate by doing this?

Well, NO. The reason I still do it is I can use that real estate for much better purposes while not breaking a sweat (and my neck) while reading long horizontal lines of code. It is still much easier to keep the code size limited horizontally within your immediate focus of vision and you can use the rest of the horizontal space for things like having a directory tree or a database of tags showing. But I keep these extras ready at the whim of a button (mapped to key combos in vim) and the most I use it for is having two (or more) files open simultaneously in vim splits to make the code easier to understand or even write. Many times, what I am reading/writing needs me to back and forth between a few files and I can keep them all open using the big screens if I limit my horizontal code size in each file.

I wasn’t still able to convince the person of my self-imposed rule but maybe I’m wrong? What do you follow?

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