FW: New home for time zone stuff by 2012?

Eliot Lear lear at cisco.com
Thu Aug 27 17:25:29 UTC 2009

Dear all,

The TZ database and associated code represent a remarkable and yet often
unsung success that people who have contributed to should be very proud
of.  Apart from the work done to release databases and code, the work
done gathering the information is critical to the success of any
effort.  And what's *really* remarkable is just how *little*
fragmentation has occurred when you consider that all of this stuff is
public domain.

We ought to do our best to perpetuate the existing model as best we
can.  My experience with standards organizations is that they come with
a lot of process baggage.  Before we engage them, I would first want to
know if this group could easily identify a senior contributor who would
willing to step up to the task (I'll just note that I am not senior, nor
am I a contributor, really).  Disk space and hosting are cheap. This
group having a plan BEFORE engaging the standards bodies will ensure
that we get what we want.


On 8/27/09 4:16 PM, Olson, Arthur David (NIH/NCI) [E] wrote:
> I'm forwarding this message from Mike Douglass, who is on the time zone mailing list now but was not when the message was sent.
> 				--ado
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Mike Douglass [mailto:douglm at rpi.edu] 
> Sent: Thursday, August 27, 2009 9:56
> To: tz at lecserver.nci.nih.gov
> Subject: RE: New home for time zone stuff by 2012?
> The Calendaring and Scheduling Consortium (CalConnect), through a number
> of activities over time, has demonstrated an active interest in
> addressing problems related to timezones for calendaring and scheduling
> systems for a while. The standards in this space, namely iCalendar, were
> developed by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).  A number of
> issues have spurred this work within CalConnect, including (but not
> limited to) the US EDST changes from 2007.
> As "consumers" of timezone data (rather than "producers" - which relates
> to the job done by the community represented by this mailing list,
> tz at elsie.nci.nih.gov) we are eager to see a reliable, timely and secure
> process for handling timezones.  
> In CalConnect's Timezone Technical Committee (TC), we are presently
> developing a timezone service protocol that will allow for direct updates 
> of client systems, rather than relying on the current process where
> systems typically get updated via OS upgrades, if at all. As part of this 
> effort, we are also developing a generic timezone description format in
> XML so that interchange of timezone data can be done efficiently, and so
> that we can include structured meta-data like KML for boundary information.
> CalConnect would like to see a formal "standardization" of timezone names 
> with a registry. This issue has been a problem in the iCalendar space
> where presently it is difficult to rely on a timezone definition with a
> given name, often resulting in interoperability problems. CalConnect
> would like to see timezone data passed "by reference" rather than "by
> value" for efficiency purposes (iCalendar requires that a VTIMEZONE
> component always be included in the iCalendar data stream when a timezone 
> is referenced by an event).
> Earlier this year, CalConnect hosted a timezone workshop at one of its
> face-to-face Roundtables. The primary focus of the workshop was to
> discuss the problem statement and development of the protocol, data
> format and registry process. Since then we have also initiated
> discussions in the IETF on these topics.
> As "consumers" of timezone data CalConnect feels strongly about the need
> for these improvements. None of this necessarily impacts the process of
> "producing" timezone data as carried out by this list's community.
> Nonetheless, we care greatly about the "production" process because we
> have to rely on this data.
> We have informally discussed within the CalConnect Timezone TC what we
> would like to see for the future of the timezone data. We have not come
> to any firm conclusions as to the best way forward. Mr. Olson's email,
> therefore, comes as a timely reminder that this needs to be addressed now.
> Possible options (as already indicated by Mr. Olson) include:
> - Moving it to an "open source" location (such as SourceForge, which has
> been already suggested)
> - Setting up some kind of open consortium of interested parties to manage 
> timezone data
> - Moving responsibility to an existing standards body (e.g., the IETF or
> the Internet Society - ISOC)
> - Moving responsibility to a government entity (e.g., the UN)
> Unfortunately, this debate can easily get mired in "politics" rather than 
> technical issues. e.g., who gets to control the data, how is the service
> paid for, who gets to contribute.
> At the end of the day, CalConnect favors an approach which results in the 
> least amount of disruption. The open community process developed via this 
> list's community has clearly been a success, and should be considered as
> a potential model going forward.
> CalConnect considers tightening up of the security of the timezone data
> to be essential. Given that many systems rely on the data being produced, 
> we collectively need a secure distribution (i.e. a secure, reliable
> server, signed data etc). Whilst there have not been any obvious
> "attacks" against timezone data, one cannot assume there won't be any in
> the future. This is a propitious time to achieve consensus on the best
> way to    secure the data. This may very well impose additional
> requirements on hosting the data in  the future, e.g., cost of
> maintaining the server, signing certificates etc).
> CalConnect looks forward to the discussions on this issue, and would like 
> to hear the thoughts of other members of this community. CalConnect is
> ready to host another face-to-face timezone workshop, open to all
> interested parties, at our member meeting in February 2010. 
> Mike Douglass                           douglm at rpi.edu
> Chair Timezone Technical Committee, on behalf of CalConnect

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