How to make jGrasp use spaces in place of tab characters

The Curse of the Tab Character

For those of us who view programs using a variety of applications (i.e., various web browsers and/or text editors), tabs appearing in source code files can be very annoying. Why? Because tabs are rendered differently in one application vs. another.

Suppose, for example, that the following eight-line program segment had been keyed in using jGrasp's text editor. To the right of each line of code is a description of which characters form the "whitespace" at the beginning of each line. These descriptions are consistent with jGrasp's default setting, which has each tab character being rendered as though it were three spaces. Despite what you may think, this example is not really as far-fetched as it may first appear, especially if the code was cobbled together using a sequence of editing operations in which code was moved around a lot.

   while (k != m)            (tab)
   {                         (3 spaces)
      cntr = cntr + 1;       (6 spaces)
      if (k < m)             (tab and 3 spaces)
         { m = m - k; }      (9 spaces)
      else                   (2 tabs)
         { k = k - m; }      (3 tabs)
   }                         (tab) 

Now suppose that the same code segment is displayed using an application in which tab characters are rendered as though they were a sequence of seven spaces. The code segment would look like this:

(1)       while (k != m)
(2)   {
(3)      cntr = cntr + 1;
(4)          if (k < m)
(5)         { m = m - k; }
(6)              else
(7)                     { k = k - m; }
(8)       }

As you can see, the code is now ugly and virtually unreadable, as the visual cues intended to be provided by code indentation have been destroyed.

How to Rid Ourselves, in jGrasp, of the Tabs Curse

  1. In the menu bar, click Settings and then choose Font from the menu.
  2. Click on the CSD tab.
  3. Turn on Soft tabs option. (Two boxes appear to its right. Click on the right box and then on the left box. This should cause a check mark to appear in the latter.)

    With this option turned on, any tab characters entered on the keyboard will be treated as a sequence of space characters. How many spaces? Use the Tab Size slider to choose. A good setting is 3.

    It also means that, if the Auto Indent option is turned on, when jGrasp automatically indents a line of code, it will do so using spaces rather than tabs.

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