Inconsistent format of data files?

Andy Lipscomb AndyLipscomb at
Thu Jul 20 20:35:22 UTC 2006

I'm working on a similar project myself, and I think the answer is that technically, the year, month, and day are three separate fields.

One good reason to extend the format, that I can see, is greater localizability. Currently, the tz file can only handle one abbreviation per zone per transition, while CLDR takes no account of changes and allows only the (one or two) current abbreviations to be localized. If you want to localize a date stamp and the location has changed rules since then, the model in place fails....

-----Original Message-----
From: Colin Bowern [mailto:Colin.Bowern at] 
Sent: Thu 20 July 2006 16:29
To: Olson, Arthur David (NIH/NCI) [E]; tz at
Subject: RE: Inconsistent format of data files?

Hi Arthur,

I've trimmed the input for the leading and trailing spaces in the latest iteration.  The problem I'm having comes into play when you've got whitespaces between fields, yet fields have multiple bits of data separated by spaces.  The zic manual page says:

"White space characters and sharp characters may be enclosed in double quotes (") if they're to be used as part of a field."

Relating to that statement the problem is when I see a Zone record as

Zone	Antarctica/Vostok	0	-	zzz	1957 Dec 16

In this example the final Until field has several whitespaces but is not enclosed in double quotes.  If we say that all fields are tab separated then it's easy to interpret the above line, but if it's too liberal then I would think the Until field should be wrapped with double quotes.



-----Original Message-----
From: Olson, Arthur David (NIH/NCI) [E]
[mailto:olsona at]
Sent: Thursday, July 20, 2006 4:20 PM
To: Colin Bowern; tz at
Subject: RE: Inconsistent format of data files?

Like the good book (the zic manual page) says...
     Input lines are made up of fields.  Fields are separated
     from one another by any number of white space characters.
     Leading and trailing white space on input lines is ignored.
So, by definition, there can't be "extra" tabs at the beginnings of lines.

While we could make the stuff in the time zone package more consistent, there are presumably files out in the wild created by other folks that wouldn't match whatever consistent pattern we settled on. The safest course for developers is to parse liberally in accordance with the manual page.



From: Colin Bowern [mailto:Colin.Bowern at]
Sent: Wednesday, July 19, 2006 1:37 PM
To: tz at
Subject: Inconsistent format of data files?



I'm working on compiling the time zone data into an XML file for easier handling in a program.  I noticed some inconsistencies in the format of the files versus the description in zic.8.txt.  For example, in the latest version in Africa on line 93 there is an extra tab at the beginning.  Can anyone confirm if this?  I've attached screenshots of what I am seeing.

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