[tz] tzdb timezone names/identifiers and links

Alan Mintz alan.mintz at gmail.com
Wed Feb 27 15:41:57 UTC 2019

On Tue, Feb 26, 2019 at 12:01 PM <Paul.Koning at dell.com> wrote:

> > On Feb 26, 2019, at 2:49 PM, Fred Gleason <fredg at paravelsystems.com>
> wrote:
> >
> > ...
> > My basic take is this: civil timekeeping is quite complex enough as it
> > is, without the arbitrary interposition of yet more layers of
> > indirection in the zone indexing. In many (perhaps most?) applications,
> > such indirection may be a necessary evil. However, anything that
> > increases the overall global complexity of a system imposes a 'tax' of
> > its own (both in system resources and in the ease with which the system
> > can be modeled and understood in a programmers head). It's well to
> > consider this cost in the overall context of the intended use case,
> > platform capabilities and intended user audience. To issue a
> > categorical imperative like 'tzdb identifiers should *never* be shown
> > to users' is to short-circuit this entire delicate design process of
> > weighing tradeoffs.
> I see it the opposite way.  Layered architectures exist everywhere, and
> for very good reasons.
> In the case of tzdb, the usual computer science arguments apply.  In
> addition, political considerations are an additional reason for layering.
> We already have plenty of discussion relating to what countries are, where
> boundaries are, whether a particular spot on the map is illegally occupied
> and by whom, and so forth.  Those can be dismissed as "out of scope"
> because tzdb only concerns itself with abstractions: subsets of the world
> that share a set of time offset rules starting from 1970.  What
> relationship those abstractions have with countries, provinces, occupied
> territories, or whatnot, isn't our concern.

Adding political issues to taxdb's scope would necessarily result in
segmenting the tzdb list/community anyway, simply out of volume-caused
necessity if not just interest. Leave the political stuff to those more
equipped to deal with it. (I'm admittedly biased toward the hierarchical as
a data guy :) )

> ...
> Once in a while it is suggested that all tzdb zones should be identified
> by random unique integers, or something like that.  I'm more and more
> inclined to think that's a good idea, because it would once and for all
> shut down this confusion.
I wouldn't mind using a scheme similar to the often-used host-naming
convention of using unrelated taxonomies (e.g., animals, gemstones,
elements) as being easier to remember than random IDs like 0x7c5f or
Windows locale IDs. I guess we might have arguments over primacy of names
like "tiger" and "diamond" though.

Alan Mintz <Alan.Mintz at gMail.com>
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