New home for time zone stuff by 2012?

Sue Williams suew at
Mon Aug 31 20:26:05 UTC 2009

It might be best to separate the hosting issues for the tz database from 
the governance issues.

My vote is for hosting the tz data on a site that has a higher profile in 
the standards world.  To me, the Unicode site would be an excellent 

There are various reasons for wanting a higher profile url such as:
It lends credibility to the data.  In the past, when I have pointed people 
to the twinsun site, I've had to convince them that this is a reputable 
site and that the data can be trusted. I think a higher profile hosting 
site would be desirable in overcoming the skepticism with trusting this 
data.  For those of us who have been associate with the tz data for a long 
time, this may be hard to understand but for those new to it, it takes a 
leap of faith.
Personal sites or sites associated with a specific company are not 
desirable.  Too many companies are dependent upon this data.  A personal 
site could go away overnight if the person got hit by a bus while crossing 
the street.  On the other hand, a corporate site raises competitive 
concerns.  What if my competitor is controlling that data that I depend 
Governments may be more willing to participate directly if the tz 
workgroup is seen as a more formal standards organization as determined by 
the hosting site.

So, IBM would like to see the hosting done by a site with a higher profile 
in the open standards world.  As stated above, the Unicode site is a good 
option, especially since they have offered to host it and they are a high 
profile site that hosts multiple different important standards. Clearly, 
someone will have to make sure that the new site has the data storage, 
security, and server capacity to handle the data and traffic volumes for 
the site.

As for governance.  The governing body of the tz data would determine (as 
they do today) the processes for updating the data and for updating the 
data structure.  There isn't any reason that this would have to change 
just because the hosting organization has changed. Mark Davis said that 
all that the Unicode consortium would want is a clearly defined process 
for how updating is handled. It doesn't have to be process-heavy, just 
documented. That's not a bad requirement.  Of course it might not be a bad 
idea to start thinking about how this tz database could be taken to a new 

Here are some other thoughts:
It would be nice to have a formal name for this tz group.  The tz database 
has always sounded a bit informal to me. It doesn't sound like a name and 
so this group doesn't seem to have a name.
If it were a formal standard, maybe governments would be more willing to 
submit updates directly to tz.  Maybe work with the governments that make 
regular changes such as Egypt or Brazil to establish a formal method of 
notification. Maybe create a tool or a standard XML format or some other 
more formal but reasonably easy way to submit tz changes.
The rather informal approach to handling updates has worked remarkably 
well up to now but this group might benefit from a little more formal 
structure as we get ready for Mr. Olson to leave in a few years.  "Formal" 
can still be lightweight.
It would be nice if the tz mailing list was posted in a news group format 
or forum where different threads of discussion could be tracked 

Since this approach to tz data has worked very well for many years, it 
would be unproductive to invent some new organization to do this same 
work.  A better approach is to take this up a notch and make this into a 
slightly more formally recognized organization.

Susan J Williams
Globalization Leadership Team, IBM
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