[tz] [PROPOSED PATCH 1/4] Prefer +-NN notation for UT-offset time zones in comments.

Paul Eggert eggert at cs.ucla.edu
Thu Aug 25 07:28:33 UTC 2016

Brian Inglis wrote:

> I am concerned about:
> * the downstream effect of these changes on client code

We have had numeric time zone abbreviations in tzdata since release 2016b, and 
client code seems to be doing OK.

> * duplication of the numeric offset in a useless text string
>   already available as a different format string, and the
>   subsequent need to change that string every time an offset
>   changes

Yes, which is why I'd eventually like to change tzdata source to use %z instead. 
I've deferred this because I want the relevant zic.c changes to make their way 
out to downstream platforms. Once this happens, the duplication can be removed.

> * the lack of any legislative or widespread community push
>   towards making unnecessary changes to the data

Look at the bright side: thank goodness the U.N. isn't harassing us about this! 
We'd never get anything done. (:-)

Seriously - whether the changes are necessary depends on how seriously one 
considers invented data to be. I view the matter seriously enough to want to fix 
the problem when reasonably feasible, as is the case here. Admittedly this is a 
judgment call.

> * the lack of any coordination with downstream distributors and
>   consumers e.g. travel industry, airlines, to assess the impact

Coordination can be done via this mailing list. Anybody in the travel industry, 
etc. is welcome to report problems they run into because (say) in South 
Kazakhstan the GNU/Linux 'date' command now outputs "+06" rather than "ALMT". 
Although the absence of such email does not mean no problems exist, any such 
problems are likely to be minor given that tzdata 2016d and later have been in 
widespread use for months without serious squawks from users.

> * political impact from outrage by American, Canadian, European,
>   etc. output consumers, managers, IT managers, programmers when
>   their favourite TLA gets replaced by some number based on the UK

This shouldn't be a problem, as there are no plans to replace common 
English-language abbreviations like "PST" and "CEST". The goal is only to remove 
invented abbreviations like "ALMT".

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