Why does PEP-8 specify a maximum line length of 79 characters? [closed]
Much of the value of PEP-8 is to stop people arguing about inconsequential formatting rules, and get on with writing good, consistently formatted code. Sure, no one really thinks that 79 is optimal, but there's no obvious gain in changing it to 99 or 119 or whatever your preferred line length is. I think the choices are these: follow the rule and find a worthwhile cause to battle for, or provide some data that demonstrates how readability and productivity vary with line length. The latter would be extremely interesting, and would have a good chance of changing people's minds I think.
Keeping your code human readable not just machine readable. A lot of devices still can only show 80 characters at a time. Also it makes it easier for people with larger screens to multi-task by being able to set up multiple windows to be side by side.
Readability is also one of the reasons for enforced line indentation.
I am a programmer who has to deal with a lot of code on a daily basis. Open source and what has been developed in house.
As a programmer, I find it useful to have many source files open at once, and often organise my desktop on my (widescreen) monitor so that two source files are side by side. I might be programming in both, or just reading one and programming in the other.
I find it dissatisfying and frustrating when one of those source files is >120 characters in width, because it means I can't comfortably fit a line of code on a line of screen. It upsets formatting to line wrap.
I say '120' because that's the level to which I would get annoyed at code being wider than. After that many characters, you should be splitting across lines for readability, let alone coding standards.
I write code with 80 columns in mind. This is just so that when I do leak over that boundary, it's not such a bad thing.