[tz] tabs vs spaces

Guy Harris guy at alum.mit.edu
Thu May 2 21:00:40 UTC 2013

On May 2, 2013, at 12:46 PM, Tobias Conradi <mail.2012 at tobiasconradi.com> wrote:

> On Thu, May 2, 2013 at 6:45 AM, Guy Harris <guy at alum.mit.edu> wrote:
>> On May 1, 2013, at 9:09 PM, Tobias Conradi <mail.2012 at tobiasconradi.com> wrote:
>>> I came from random832 at fastmail.us:
>>> "Tokens in the timezone files are separated by _any whitespace_." and
>>> re-used the any.
>>> I wanted to say "And I assume not /every/ 'any white space' separates tokens."
>>> I had in mind the spaces in the comment field:
>>> ftp://ftp.iana.org/tz/data/zone.tab
>>> "Rothera Station, Adelaide Island"
>> ...which isn't a timezone file.
> Where is the set of what you call "timezone files" defined?
> ftp://ftp.iana.org/tz/code/Theory talks of
> "time zone rule files" and singular:
> "The daylight saving time rules to be used
> for a particular time zone are encoded in the time zone file"
> No "time zone files" or "timezone files" found.

OK, so I'll change it to "...which isn't a time zone rule file", so that I'm not using terms not used in Theory.

(Note, of course, that Theory is not a document mentioned anywhere in


and not mentioned anywhere on


and not mentioned anywhere in  in any of the man pages or in any of the tzdata files, so it's not a document with any official standing as the ultimate documentation of the time zone database.)

>> That file has a different syntax, as described in the leading comment:
>>        # Columns are separated by a single tab.
> So, the benefits layed down at
> http://mm.icann.org/pipermail/tz/2013-May/019175.html
> and other unknown reason that lead to multiple white space in some
> files are out-weighted by something unknown for zone.tab? What could
> that be?

Well, this benefit

	It lets existing files (which have more than one tab in a row, at least for leading spaces) be read without having to reformat them.

obviously doesn't even apply, because the zone.tab file's existing syntax is different, and if *it* were changed to allow multiple tabs between columns, that would mean that code that read *those* files wouldn't work on the new file.

I.e., different files, different file formats, for better or worse.  Changing file formats, and breaking code, just to make all file formats the same is likely to cause more problems than it solves.

The others do apply, but, for better or worse, that's not the format that was chosen, and we're stuck with it.

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