A Exhibition of Tech Geekers Incompetence: Emacs whitespace-mode

By Xah Lee. Date:

Just wanted to express some frustration with whitespace-mode.

Emacs 23, just released in 2009, has this whitespace-mode feature. It renders spaces, tabs, newlines characters with a visible glyph. This feature, is in Microsoft Word since about 1992.

This feature is important in practical ways. For example, when you work with Delimiter-separated values file format (CSV, TSV, etc) that's a common format for importing/exporting address books or spreadsheets. It's also important in whitespace-significant langs such as Python. Or, in text processing when placement of space and tabs matters in input or output.

All i wanted, is to make Space and Tab and Newline chars visible.

However, the emacs whitespace-mode does much more than that. It is designed for tech geeking control freaks to tune every aspect of white space in his source code. The mode is filled with bells and whistles. It distinguishes tabs mixed with spaces, EOLs mixed with spaces, EOLs at beginning of file, EOLs at end of file, run on spaces at end of line, lines that has nothing to do with white spaces but is simply longer than 80 chars, etc. Each of these is rendered with different foreground, background, colors, so that they cannot possibly escape the notices of control freaks.

By default, most of these are on, so that, when you turn on the mode, most reasonable clean source code become this colorful rainbow unreadable faak.

emacs whitespace mode 2017 02 14
The default rendering of whitespace-mode. Spaced out!

I tried to tune it, with my 10 years of emacs of faaking 16 hours of using per day, and 3 years of elisp coding experience. But, after a hour, it's confusion hell sans avail.

O, that Alex idiot with his emacswiki, refused to lead emacswiki into any readable state. All he can think about is my social skills. [see Problems of Emacswiki]

What the faak. Hi tech geekers, coding freaks, social science ignoramus faaks, basic economics illiterate FSF faaks, freedom abusing selfish ideologists faaks, Richard Stallman propagandist faak, we-try-to-be-easy-to-use linuxer idioting faaks, FAAK U.

[see What is a Tech Geeker?]

emacs whitespace-mode default
A clean python code shown in whitespace-mode by default.
emacs whitespace-mode good
Python code shown in whitespace-mode with proper customization.

For how to fix it, see: How to use and setup Emacs's whitespace-mode .