[tz] Dropping iso3166.tab

Stuart Bishop stuart at stuartbishop.net
Thu May 23 14:42:56 UTC 2013

On Mon, May 20, 2013 at 11:27 PM, Paul Eggert <eggert at cs.ucla.edu> wrote:
> On 05/20/13 13:59, Garrett Wollman wrote:
>> FreeBSD does this (and always has); you can look at it if you want.
> I have been thinking of proposing to drop iso3166.tab from the
> tz distribution, and to drop all uses of country codes.
> This would help simplify maintenance, as it would mean
> that the database would be unaffected by political
> issues such as whether Kosovo is a country, what country
> Jerusalem is in, what country Taipei is in, etc.  The idea
> is to simplify the database to help us focus on our charter
> (namely, civil time) and to be less distracted by political
> issues that do not affect the clocks.
> As part of this change, the first column of zone.tab
> would change from its current role (a country code)
> to be just a comment.

The Python timezone library (pytz, currently standalone but accepted
to be included into Python core) exposes a mapping of iso3166 country
code to timezones in use in that region. This is currently pulled from
zone.tab. Removing this information from zone.tab without an
alternative would break an unknown number of Python applications.

If zone.tab has political problems, could we maintain this information
in another format? I don't see that a list of which timezones are in
use in a region is at all political - Asia/Taiwan for instance could
happily be listed both for .tw and .cn. This would satisfy the pytz
use cases, as well as other systems needing a cheap mechanism for
narrowing down timezone selection choices.

Stuart Bishop <stuart at stuartbishop.net>

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