[tz] Dropping iso3166.tab

David Patte ₯ dpatte at relativedata.com
Wed May 22 18:56:07 UTC 2013

I do appreciate that my concerns on this issue have been discussed 
seriously. I also recognize the issue is not easy, since various product 
distributions may have of their own standards which must be applied to 
the db no matter what is decided here and by the maintainers. (I used to 
develop commercial word-processing products for Israel & Syria, so I am 
familiar with the issues). So I'll just summarize my concerns one last 
time, then leave it to the experts.

The tz database is used by many systems, and a lot of software, as we 
all know. Its usage is worldwide, and it is used in various countries 
and by many users, many of which may not share the same politics as the 
people on this list or the maintainers.

But as much as possible, this list should not be one of arguing over 

I totally appreciate the effort to come to a way of reducing the 
political debate here, or to come to a compromize that would reduce the 
politics from the database and list.

Removing country codes is certainly one way, and another is to 
consistantly use somone else's political standards as a guide (ie: the 
UN & ISO).

Removing country codes certainly solves the problem elegantly for the 
database, no more countries, no arguments of what country a city is in.

But it doesnt resolve the problem at all for those that use the database.

Unless someone knows his tz identifier offhand, a user specifying 
timezones will have to select it from some sort of list. Either that, or 
depend on the software he is using making the selection for him based on 
other criteria.

Herein lies my concern.

The primary way for a person to find his zone is by entering his country 
and city - or perhaps city alone (if he is lucky enough to guess the 
correct city from the long list of tz identifiers). If not the user, 
then someone in the implementation chain for the product will be 
required to do this depending on other criteria.

So, somewhere in the chain between the database and the user, someone 
will still have to make the decision of how to map the timezones to 
user-identifyable locations. If an international standard is not used in 
the tz database for this, then each implementer will have to decide for 
himself how to map each city to country - preventing the tz database 
from being implemented consistantly.

A user might have to choose one country to use one piece of software, 
and another country for another piece of software - and will not know 
whether his choices are consistant or correct.

So, this is my argument for using UN & ISO locations consistantly within 
the db. Removing international standard locations from tz will cause the 
implementations of the database to be fractured.

In summary:
- keeping the process as is causes endless polical debate on the mailing 
list - where it should not be.
- removing all countries would make the tz database far less political, 
but could cause fracturing of tz implementations, and difficulty 
implementing country-based solutions.
- using UN & ISO standards would promote standarization of the tz 
database and its usage, reduce debate, but unfortunately promote UN & 
ISO standards to those that disagree with them or their use.

I, of course prefer the third choice.

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