07-27-2018, Notes
by Wendy Dessler

Why Programmers Who Use Spaces Instead of Tabs Make More Money

Wendy Dessler
Contributing Editor
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If you are a member of the programming community, you know all too well about the age-old debate of spaces versus tabs. There are a number of programmers out there that use indentation in their code rather than tabs. This highly debated topic has divided programmers for years, but recent data shows that people on the side of using spaces may be right.

Recently, the team at Google analyzed a billion files to figure out which technique was better. Their research found that spaces were far better for a number of different reasons. Not only is this technique more visually appealing, it allows programmers to make more money

Spaces vs Tabs

The analysis performed by the team at Stack Overflow found that programmers who use spaces instead of tabs are making more money. David Robinson, the data scientist who performed this study found that programmers using space over tabs made an average of 9 percent more each year than their tab using counterparts.

Read below to find out more about the use of proper indentation in coding and how it can benefit you as a programmer.

The Need For Indentation

One of the biggest reasons why most programmers use an indent style is to provide their program with structure. Generally, this indentation style is used in C programming and its many descendants. However, it can be applied to other programming languages where the use of whitespace is rendered insignificant.

While indentation is not required in programming languages, it is widely used by some of the best programmers on the planet. Generally, indentation provides a clarification when it comes to control flow constructs. When using things like loops or conditions, you need to clearly show where the code contained outside of these constructs are.

Using indentation in Python allows you to avoid using braces or keywords to set sets of code apart. Most people new to the world of coding fail to realize that indentation is more for the interpreter and less about the structure of the program itself.

tabs-vs-spaces

Credits: ZombieMann, devRant

When done properly, the indentation will give the reader of the code a level of comfort and understanding. If a code is properly broken up, it will much easier to comprehend. By writing code that is easy to review, a programmer can make an impression on prospective employers and increase their earning potential at the same time.

This subject has been covered in depth by Google’s Felipe Hoffa on Medium. Felipe analyzed 400,000 GitHub repositories, 1 billion files, and 14 terabytes of code to determine why spaces might be actually better than tabs.

tabs-vs-spaces

Other Best Practices to Follow When Writing Code

While indentation is paramount when attempting to write readable and appealing code, there are a number of other best practices you should follow. Below are just some of the practices you need to get accustomed to using.

Documentation and Commenting

With the technological advancements in the world of integrated development environments, commenting on the code is more useful than ever. By following industry standards when developing these comments, you will allow other tools to utilize them in a variety of different ways.

Read also: 10 Essential Tips for Vetting a Software Development Agency

Focus on Architecture First

While meeting deadlines is one of the things you will have to focus on to become a great programmer, you need to avoid skipping vital steps. The first thing you need to do before writing any code is to think about the architecture of the program you are working on. Failing to do this can lead to big problems in the long run.

Knowing what your code will be used for and what programs it will be working with is vital. With this information, you can write code that is both effective and bug-free.

Keep It Simple

Writing code that is overly-complex can cause major problems when it comes to the functionality of a program. By focusing on writing simple code, you can make it much easier to avoid bugs. Your code should get right to the point rather than using a ton of abstractions. Getting in the habit of writing simple code can benefit you greatly as you try to rise to the top of your industry.

Code Reviews May Be a Bad Idea

While there are situations where code reviews can be beneficial, there are times when it can just be a headache. The only way to properly utilize this tool is by working with a developer that understands your codes and can monitor the updates it needs. The main goal of a code review is to maintain the quality of the programming being done, not to teach new developers. When this is used as a learning tool, it will typically backfire in spectacular fashion.

Coding Mistakes to Avoid At All Costs

Errors made during the coding process can lead to an application or software program being unstable. It is your job as a programmer to learn more about common coding errors so you can avoid them. If you are interested in learning about common Java performance errors, be sure to read more here. Below are just some of the errors you need to steer clear of during the app coding process.

The Reusing Old Code Trap

One of the biggest mistakes you need to avoid when developing a new program is reusing old code. While your client may request this to save time and money, you need to do all you can to talk them out of it. Unless the code in question was specifically designed to be reused, you will end up basically rewriting it anyway. This is why starting with a fresh batch of coding is a must when trying to have success.

Failing to Test at Ever Phase of Development

As a programmer, your main goal should be providing your clients with the bug-free code they need. The only way to ensure the code you have written is correct is by testing it at every phase of development. Getting in too big of a hurry will lead to big mistakes and may cause app crashes in the future.

While utilizing the power of space and indentation in your code will take some practice, it will be worth the effort. Finding a more experienced programmer to mentor you on this practice is a great idea that will help you progress at a rapid pace.

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