Why does the following code return two spaces instead of one tab? How can I change this setting easily?

$document = JFactory::getDocument();
$tab = $document->_getTab();


2 Answers 2


Two spaces are hard coded in protected static function createDocument() located inside libraries/joomla/factory.php:

$attributes = array(
        'charset' => 'utf-8',
        'lineend' => 'unix',
        'tab' => '  ',
        'language' => $lang->getTag(),
        'direction' => $lang->isRTL() ? 'rtl' : 'ltr',
        'mediaversion' => $version->getMediaVersion()

which overrides previous class property declaration of \11 in libraries/joomla/document/document.php and all rows in the head section become indented with 2 spaces.


If you read the method documentation, it is doing exactly what its supposed to. Which is return the system default for the number of spaces a keyboard tab event contains.

Below is the method as taken from JDocument class:

 * Returns a string containing the unit for indenting HTML
 * @return  string
 * @since   11.1
public function _getTab()
    return $this->_tab;

And the class property for $_tab:

 * Tab string
 * @var    string
 * @since  11.1
public $_tab = "\11";

Using the above and referencing the PHP Documents for Escape Sequences in text we see a reference to exact string:

might be a back reference, or another way of writing a tab

You can visit the below link for more info, but the method in question returns the PHP escape sequence for a tab.


  • Hm, not a Joomla guru, but can not find exactly this. In document.php : public $_tab = "\11"; from php docs - \11 - might be a back reference, or another way of writing a tab
    – pl71
    Oct 8, 2014 at 5:17
  • see my edit for further clarification Oct 8, 2014 at 17:55
  • Thank you, but this do not answer my question, and it was way _getTab() returns two spaces (#20, #20), instead of one tab char (#09)? As far I understand from escape sequence \11 stands for octal 11 which is hex 09 (tab char). Somewhere, later this single tab is substituted with two spaces. Is it possible to be a template issue as well.
    – pl71
    Oct 8, 2014 at 19:12
  • Search your code base for "setTab(". The tab character can be changed, and somewhere in your install it is being changed to two spaces. Oct 8, 2014 at 20:26
  • I made fresh new install of latest Joomla (3.3.6) with default settings. Nothing additional. There is no additional setTab except the one in document.php. The result is same - if you look at page source you will notice two spaces in front of the tags in the head section. I think that there should be two tabs.
    – pl71
    Oct 11, 2014 at 4:39

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