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Re: Changing line widths in the Emacs source code

From: Vladimir Sedach
Subject: Re: Changing line widths in the Emacs source code
Date: Sun, 13 Sep 2020 11:38:40 -0700
User-agent: mu4e 1.3.10; emacs 26.2

Alan Mackenzie <acm@muc.de> writes:

> It remains a good choice, now.  Wide text is more difficult to read.
> For that reason, newspaper columns (remember them?) were typically much
> less than 80 columns wide.

The optimum line length for legibility has been found to be 55-60
characters over hundreds of years of book publishing experience. 90
characters per line is considered the absolute maximum, and you
rarely see it. "Today's wide screens" is as bad of a reason for
increasing line length in text files as "today's wide paper" would be
an excuse to increase line length in books.

> My Linux TTY screen is 240 characters wide and 67 lines high.  With that
> I can get Follow Mode three windows wide, giving me a total display of
> 195 contiguous lines of a single buffer.  There are only occasional
> lines which need to be wrapped.  This is very helpful, particularly
> whilst debugging.

I did a lot of testing in 2017, and found that even the lowest
resolution 16:9 laptop displays could show 3 columns of 70 character
wide text side-by-side, which works really well with Emacs and
particularly with EXWM.

I switched from 120 character line width for code to 70 columns
everywhere. The main motivation was that this allows more information
to be displayed on the screen, and easier buffer/EXWM window
navigation. What I found is that this actually improved code
legibility, and had the unexpected side-effect of making it easier to
include code in e-mails, documentation, and blog posts, improving

If anything, consider formatting your code to less than 80 characters
per line.

Vladimir Sedach
Software engineering services in Los Angeles https://oneofus.la

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