Trim Your Whitespace

Leading and trailing whitespace are generally invisible. Humans are bad at dealing with things they can’t see.

If your system accepts textual codes, or any other human-generated or human-mediated input, you should trim whitespace, whether it’s leading, trailing, or inline (if not meaningful).

// Trim leading and trailing whitespace
$('inputCode').value = $('inputCode').value.trim();

It’s downright silly that web-first companies with market capitalizations in the $Billions have not yet figured out this simple trick for improving their applications. Instead, we end up with garbage error messages like this one:

Or this one, from the most valuable company in history:

Related: Browsers can do better here too. On paste into a length-limited control, we should probably trim leading whitespace first if needed to respect the limit.

Improve the world: Trim harmful whitespace!


Published by ericlaw

Impatient optimist. Dad. Author/speaker. Created Fiddler & SlickRun. PM @ Microsoft 2001-2012, and 2018-2022, working on Office, IE, and Edge. Now a SWE on Microsoft Defender Web Protection. My words are my own, I do not speak for any other entity.

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