ISO 8601:1986 revision has started!

Markus G. Kuhn kuhn at
Mon Jul 7 08:06:30 UTC 1997

I just got an interesting reply from Mr. Louis Visser <Louis.Visser at>
on my question whether there is any work going on to revise ISO 8601 soon:

  ISO TC 154 decided in 1996 to revise ISO 8601. Four member bodies responded
  to the calls for participation in the WG preparing the revision: Sweden,
  Austria, Yugoslavia and the Netherlands. I am coordinating the work
  of the WG. A first proposal for the revision has been prepared late
  1996; a second proposal is expected in a month time.

Please take your copy of ISO 8601 and think about what you would like
to see changed in the next revision of ISO 8601.

Some topics I could think of that might be addressed in a revision are:

  - the "ugly T" (allow a space alternatively)
  - profiles for easy reference in other standards (which ones?)
  - BNF syntax description
  - replace many of the ---DD style notations by shorter ones
  - allow second 60 (leap second)
  - decimal fraction of a day (1997-100.5 is noon)
  - third sunday of February 1997 as 1997-02-3-7 ???
  - years < 0001 and > 9999 (suggestions?)
  - add (modified) julian date notation
  - calendar indicator?
  - time zone rule descriptors?
  - sliding window interpretation of YY (Y2K)?
  - ...

[I don't think each of them is a good idea, this list is just intended
as a brain storming trigger to keep you thinking about alternatives.]

May be, I'll start a Web page collecting ideas for improving ISO 8601.
I hope, I can organize a copy of the existing revision proposal and make it
somehow available online.

I'd love to hear about any suggestions that you might have!


Markus G. Kuhn, Computer Science grad student, Purdue
University, Indiana, USA -- email: kuhn at

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