[tz] tabs vs spaces

Tobias Conradi mail.2012 at tobiasconradi.com
Thu May 2 21:59:16 UTC 2013

On Thu, May 2, 2013 at 11:00 PM, Guy Harris <guy at alum.mit.edu> wrote:
> 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
>         http://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc6557
A lot of files are not mentioned there. Also note, that the RFC is
labeled "Best Current Practice"
and "BCP: 175" but diverged from pre-existing Theory and usage:

"IANA and the tz database - diverging from Theory"

> and not mentioned anywhere on
>         http://www.iana.org/time-zones
two clicks from there and I see the file name, one more click, I see
the content (using Google Chrome which here allows http and ftp

> 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.)

Where is 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 didn't understand that benefit at all.

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

OK, that is the current reason. But what might have been the reason
when zone.tab was established with single tab?

The benefit of variable white space that I understand the best is
"It lets the columns line up naturally for human reading."

And this is broken if I browse to

Same-length tzids could fix it.

Tobias Conradi
Rheinsberger Str. 18
10115 Berlin


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