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Why the name 20tab?

19 Jun, 2019 Development
Why the name 20tab?

20tab is one of those names that immediately rouses questions and curiosity. So we decide to explain where it comes from.

The PEP-8

A company using Python to develop software as core business can’t ignore the PEP-8 standard. And 20tab is no exception.

PEP-8 is the “Style Guide for Python Code”: its principles, described here, include all the best practices for developers.

One of them defines the maximum length for a line of code. This rule is the most controversial part of the guide because it limits the number of characters to 79 per line.

However, many companies, which totally apply the PEP-8, do not respect this principle and prefer to use the 80-digit limit. This is a convention based on precise historical facts on the one hand, and on the other hand on the strong consensus now widespread among programmers to use this number of characters instead of the imposed one. In short, a round number is better.  

But let's take a step back in time.

Indeed, one of the reasons that led to use this limit dates back to 1978, when the VT100 was introduced, a video terminal that had, precisely, a display with 80 columns and 24 rows.


Taking another step back in time, when punch cards were still used, IBM determined a standard that included cards with 80 columns, each one with 12 drilling positions.

ibm schede perforate

As you can see, the number 80 has good reasons to earn the most used character limit title.

And so why 20tab?

But we still haven't answered the initial question.

To explain the name 20tab we have to return to the PEP-8, but to deepen the indentation rule, which involves the use of 4 characters per level. Then:

1 tab = 4 characters

20tab = 80 characters

And that’s the mystery of our name. Python, its rules, our daily job and a little bit of creativity.

We like to narrate that our code will be readable, orderly and respectful of the conventions accepted and used by most programmers.

Raffaele Colace

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