Time zone suggestions for draft-ietf-calsch-ical-08.txt

Markus Kuhn Markus.Kuhn at cl.cam.ac.uk
Sun Aug 9 08:32:47 UTC 1998

Keith Moore <moore at cs.utk.edu> wrote on 1998-08-08:
>    (Offhand, I'm thinking in terms of /XX or /XX/yyy where XX
>    is the iso 3166 country code and yyy is a political subdivision
>    within that country.  In many cases just /XX suffices.  

I have only seen this short excerpt from your mail quoted by Paul on the
tz list, so I don't know whether you already know that there exists a
new ISO 3166-2 draft standard, which defines ISO alpha codes for
regional subdivisions within countries (e.g., the states in US and the
bundesländer in DE):

ISO 3166-1:1997, Codes for the representation of names of countries and their
subdivisions -- Part 1: Country codes 
ISO/DIS 3166-2, Codes for the representation of names of countries and their
subdivisions -- Part 2: Country subdivision code 
ISO/DIS 3166-3, Codes for the representation of names of countries and their
subdivisions -- Part 3: Code for formerly used names of countries 

Paul Eggert replied on 1998-08-08:
> Why not just stick with the names already in the Olson database,
> preceded by `/' if necessary for the new standard?  The Olson names
> are widely used existing practice, and I don't see a technical reason
> to change them.

I agree that naming a time zone after the most populated city within
that time zone is a very flexible and sound approach. The only thing
that irritates me about the Olson/Eggert tz names is that they are all
prefixed by the continent name, which I feel is redundant information.
Is there really a good rationale why it has to be "Europe/Berlin" for
the German time zone and not just "Berlin". I know that the tz database
is structured into several per-continent files, but if we propose these
names as a more widely used standard, does the tz source file name
really have to be a part of it?

If there is not a very good rationale for the continent part of the
names used in the tz database and if they are only an implementation
kludge for allowing to split the database into several smaller files,
then I suggest we consider dropping the continent names quickly (which
can certainly be done in some backwards compatible manner).

Apart form this detail, the tz database names are certainly the best
scheme for naming time zones that I have seen so far and, like Paul, I
am very skeptical about inventing a new one based on political


Markus G. Kuhn, Security Group, Computer Lab, Cambridge University, UK
email: mkuhn at acm.org,  home page: <http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/~mgk25/>

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