Supplying names for timezones in the data files

Garrett Wollman wollman at
Thu Jul 18 15:36:55 UTC 1996

<<On Wed, 17 Jul 1996 22:48:46 -0700, Paul Eggert <eggert at> said:

>    Date: Wed, 17 Jul 1996 16:27:02 -0400
>    From: Garrett Wollman <wollman at>

>    # ZONE-DESCR America New_York United_States Eastern time

> Good idea, but how about a format like this instead?

>    America/New_York	+404251-0740023	US	US Eastern time

>  * zone name in tz database
>  * latitude and longitude (in ISO 6709 format) of the zone's main location
>  * country code (in ISO 3166 2-letter format)
>  * an (English) comment describing the zone

This seems like an excellent proposal.  It includes more information
that I currently need or would use, but I wouldn't have to maintain
any of it myself.  It would not be at all hard to adapt the existing
`tzsetup' framework to use this sort of data instead, and in the
future we could make it completely dynamic.

>    [I wrote:]
>    ... so I don't have to scratch my head and ask myself, ``OK, so
>    which territory is Pangnirtung in?'' and similar questions.

> I think that the 1200 or so people on Baffin Island for whom
> America/Pangnirtung are appropriate know exactly where it is (:-).
> But clearly a graphical display will help here too.

Well, it was a more basic problem for me: all of the other Canadian
``exceptions'' I wrote in full form (i.e., including the name of the
province), since that information was available from the comments in
the files.  But, for those zones in the territories, no information
was provided to allow me to associate the location with a territory
name, and the list of Canadian zones looks rather odd when some places
are listed with province names, and some are not.  Now, granted, any
Canadian would probably know where these other zones are located (at
least to the extent of determining that they were not relevant), but
my aesthetic judgment is offended by not having all of the
``exceptions'' listed with parallel descriptions.

> How about if I prepare two files, one called `zones' with the above
> format, and one called `iso3166' that looks like this:

> 	AD	Andorra

I can deal with this.  Indeed, I suspect you don't have to create the
`iso3166' file at all, as I know there are a number of copies of it
floating about.  (It really ought to be installed in /usr/share/misc;
it's a lot more useful than `flowers' or `birthtoken' or `zipcodes'.)


PS: The person quoted below almost certainly knows where Pangnirtung
is, and has probably spent some amount of time there.  :-)

Garrett A. Wollman   | O Siem / We are all family / O Siem / We're all the same
wollman at  | O Siem / The fires of freedom 
Opinions not those of| Dance in the burning flame
MIT, LCS, ANA, or NSA|                     - Susan Aglukark and Chad Irschick

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