[tz] Adding a "test" region?

Tim Parenti tim at timtimeonline.com
Thu Jan 25 18:06:56 UTC 2018

On 25 January 2018 at 11:20, <Paul.Koning at dell.com> wrote:

> What concerns me is that it seems to have been suggested as something that
> could just be added without any backward compatibility concerns, and that
> is not correct.  If people are given adequate notice of this new thing so
> they can update the tools in advance, and the test mechanism is
> standardized so that it can be reliably filtered, then it is probably ok.

If we are so concerned about introducing any potentially-breaking changes
as it seems this list is, then this may even warrant an initial out-of-band
email to tz-announce at .  (And I think this is a big enough procedural change
to warrant that anyway.)  I'd imagine a procedure something like this:

   - Once there is sufficient consensus here on adding a Test namespace, we
   announce that the first release after a certain appointed date (e.g., ~90
   days from announcement?) will have a new Test namespace.
   - Until the appointed date, business as usual for real data changes only.
   - On or after the appointed date, the Test namespace is created and
   added to the development branch, and the build process ignores it by
   default, but allows a flag to build it.  It contains a single zone on
   perpetual -00.
   - The first regular release after that (again, based on real data
   changes) will contain this single-zone test file, and will also announce a
   date when actual test cases will be added.
   - We follow a similar procedure for adding the initial test cases, which
   reflect as accurately/succinctly as possible the actual limitations (and
   lack thereof) of the tzdb format as it exists today.
   - After a year or two, we issue a separate announcement that the first
   release after a certain appointed date will enable building the tests by
   default, but there will be a flag to ignore it, and we follow through as

Principles we'd follow would include:

   - We never roll a new release just for test cases without the need to
   update real data, similar to the current *de facto* policy for code
   updates.  The only exception might be if we ever manage to get to the point
   where we're going more than ~2–3 years between data updates (ha!), it may
   be worthwhile to continue the habit of preparing a release with tzcode and
   tests only and encouraging downstream updates, just so it isn't forgotten
   that despite the then-current stability, these things still aren't set in
   - Over time, new "features" are added first as test cases (possibly even
   in an explicit Test/Beta sub-namespace) where development is deemed
   necessary — such as other calendars (which has already come-up and been
   worked around in the short term) or other timescales/epochs (TAI, Mars
   time??), which may otherwise crop up at any time.
   - Likewise, if future endeavors may require dropping or fiddling with
   certain aspects of POSIX-compliance, we test them first.

This project has always and will necessarily continue to evolve, so let's
take some steps in the short-term to ensure that we and our downstream
consumers are ready to achieve those longer-term necessities.

Tim Parenti
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