Inconsistent format of data files?

Srdjan Krajnalic ludiskr at
Fri Jul 21 07:49:01 UTC 2006

Hi Colin,

The intention was to make zone files human-readable. Presumably there are
users out there who consider it a good read ;) 

I'll write a php script to convert zone files into a more machine-readable
Just created the account, will have something online probably by end of the

One thing you're right about though, using dashes in date/time stamps
instead of space would not decrease file readability but would help some of
us considerably.



-----Original Message-----
From: Colin Bowern [mailto:Colin.Bowern at] 
Sent: Thursday, July 20, 2006 10:29 PM
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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