[tz] Inappropriate project direction

Steffen Nurpmeso steffen at sdaoden.eu
Tue Feb 6 16:57:11 UTC 2018

I solely ended up as an end-user, but..

Stephen Colebourne <scolebourne at joda.org> wrote:
 |In the last few years, the following changes have been made to the
 |tzdb project. Each of these

You did not mention large code cleanup and fight against bit

 |- added no value
 |- had a cost that far exceeded the benefits
 |- should not have happened
 |1) Removal of Zone definitions from many countries.
 |While the Zone definitions may have been the same across different
 |countries, it was never appropriate to merge the time-zones of
 |multiple different countries (backzone being the result).
 |- the change caused LMT values to be lost
 |- downstream consumers had to change logic wrt the meaning of backzone
 |- it was culturally insensitive to not provide a primary Zone entry
 |for some countries
 |2) Removal of textual short zone names.
 |While these names may well have been invented in some cases, the had
 |often become de facto standards
 |- end-users complained about the loss of textual names
 |- downstream consumers had to change logic to handle numeric-style \

In the end i have been convinced that zone names and abbreviations
and the TZDB sources as they are today have nothing much in
common.  I just never happened to realize that because i was fine
with what i got for the Germany that i live in.  I would have
loved to know that earlier and being given the data to do better
via TZDB - but that is not the case and i am not the one to
improve this situation either.

 |3) Move to a niche archive format
 |The main archive format was changed from the well-known and widely
 |supported gz to the niche lz format. There was and is no justification
 |for using a niche format on a project as important as this one.
 |- downstream consumers need to find and use the niche format
 |- Windows does not have proper support for the niche format

Yes i do not like that either, given that xz is far more common
and zstd is seeing more usage over time.  It may be that it has
archive format advantages over the former.  That is a GNU project
decision and Paul Eggert is one of _the_ GNU contributors.
Also, .gz is supported, it is just the big all-in-one ball which
uses that format.

 |4) Negative SAVE values
 |Despite being a known fact in tzdb since 2005, and despite being

I do not know what this means, i was working back then?

 |warned not to in advance, a decision to re-interpret the meaning of
 |Ireland DST was pushed through.
 |- downstream consumers broke
 |- the interaction with CLDR is incompatible with negative DST
 |- the change has no impact on actual times
 |- even if someone thought it was broken, there are no benefits to
 |making the change

Yes, the code i had would have been broken by this change, too.
I guess it was one more of those bugs that i produced, if the
POSIX standard supports negative DST...

 |5) Fractional seconds
 |A desire to fix subsecond data from over 50 years ago.
 |- downstream consumers will break
 |- the number of people who care is vanishingly small

Yes but here i step in and say that i truly like the decision,
i always thought TZDB is a community effort to track the history
of local time, and if there is such an offset then, well, it was.
There were so many false times in this DB, which i did not know
either, many of them have been corrected in the last years, thanks
to sleuthering of Paul Eggert and occasionally also other people!

Of course my thing could not deal with that and possibly some
magical comment or an additional field at the end of line should
be used to notify consumers which can about such subprecisions.
Actually adding subsecond precision via dot separator would be
the most easy thing to implement for my one, but it had to be done
of course.

 |Were recent discussions a one-off, I might be prepared to let things
 |lie, but as can be seen, there is a pattern here. Not one of these
 |changes has added value to the project. Not one of them has been
 |necessary to the primary mission of recording what governments are
 |doing to their clocks now, nor even in the last 40 years. Worse, the
 |majority are driven by a notion that getting the data "pure" trumps
 |all problems reported by downstream consumers.
 |It is long past time to accept that tzdb needs to focus on the primary
 |mission - recording current government changes in a stable, backwards
 |compatible manner.
 |Tinkering needs to stop.

  Se vogliamo che tutto rimanga come è, bisogna che tutto cambi.
  If we want that everything remains the same, it all has to change.
  --Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa


|Der Kragenbaer,                The moon bear,
|der holt sich munter           he cheerfully and one by one
|einen nach dem anderen runter  wa.ks himself off
|(By Robert Gernhardt)

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