Everyone knows that Opera is better than Firefox, Vim+Bash is better than any IDE, and 4-space indenting is better than tabulators. Having established those undisputed facts of life, let’s revisit some common fuel for flame wars: the mighty 80 character line limit.
Some people propose 80 chars, others 79, 100, 120, 132 , and many values in between.
Some people propose it should be a soft limit (meaning you can freely ignore in rare cases), while others set pre-commit hooks to stop any infringing line from reaching repositories.
None of this really matters.
I propose that those advantages are real and desirable, but should not be achieved through arbitrary line length limits. On the contrary, I propose that coders should not waste time formatting their source code: their tools should do it when possible. After all, we use text editors, not word processors! The problem is that, unfortunately, most text editors are too dumb.
Fix the editors, and you fix the need for line length limits.
If you edit your code in vim, you’re in luck, thanks to the Breakindent functionality. Here’s some side-by-side comparisons of 80-char line limit vs. unformatted text with BreakIndent enabled:
All in all: when compared to an editor featuring smart indenting, the 80-char lines artificially limit how you can resize your own windows, with no appreciable gain, and in most cases forcing you to waste many pixels of your carefully chosen 27″ dual-screen coding setup.