America/Edmonton and other zone naming issues

Ken Pizzini tz. at
Fri Feb 10 04:32:01 UTC 2006

On Thu, Feb 09, 2006 at 11:24:06PM +0100, Oscar van Vlijmen wrote:
> The zone naming is not consistent.

I disagree.

> Of course, some reasoning lies behind it, but just looking at the names:
> they are not of database quality. That's a hurdle to a non-TZ developer.

The database key (which is what the TZ zone names essentially are)
should not define the UI used to choose regions.  Would you be
happier if we *did* call them names like "Z09432" instead of the
partially mnemonic ones currently being used?  That would certainly
get rid of the mind-set that these keys should be usable for UI
purposes... but it would also make it gratuitously more challenging
to tell if one is referring to the right region.  ("Is the time in
Billings, Montana covered by Z09432 or Z09433?")

> America/Boise refers to a county and a city in the USA.

The zone is *named* after the city.  It is just a coincidence that
the region encompassed by the zone happens to include a county of
the same name.

> America/Edmonton refers to a city not in the USA but in Canada.

"America" refers to the two "New World" continents, not any
single country.

> America/Sao_Paulo refers to a city in Brazil.

Which is in America (the continent pair).  That folk from the US
call themselves "Americans" is actually slightly insulting to those
from other countries in the Americas.  (Though I grant that
"United Statesians" doesn't exactly roll off the tongue.)

> America/Costa_Rica refers to a country.

Okay, I'll grant that that one is inconsistent.  The comment in the
zonetab file explains the reason: "There are too many San Joses
elsewhere".  I suppose the rule could be bent a different way by
choosing the second-largest city, but the population of Alajuela is
little more than half that of San Jose, so that too would be stretching
the guidelines by a fair amount.  Regardless, the basic choice is to
either be completely (foolishly?) consistent and risk confusion about
which San_Jose is meant, or to be inconsistent and choose something with
better mnemonic value.  (Perhaps America/Costa_Rica/San_Jose would have
been a "meaningful" name that was more consistent with other entries.)

		--Ken Pizzini

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