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Subject: Re: DOCBOOK: RFE: Date Format

Norm (1)!

> Can anyone site examples where international date format issues arise
> in technical documentation?

I can only, sardonically say they occur where dates in text-only format
occur. Because the LDP obviously accepts documents from many, many
people they don't all conform to the ISO date standards; in fact
sometimes I have to double-take myself because I'm Australian and
Americans insist on putting their dates back to front ;-)

One of my other suggestions was that we could simply say "4th January
2000", in which case you can only stuff that up if you decide that there
may be 2000 days in the January of the 4th Year...highly unlikely if you
ask me.

> I'm aware that they do exist, and that
> <date>1/2/2001</date> is ambiguous, but I'm not convinced that this is
> a real, practical problem for DocBook users.

Unfortunately the LDP don't have online searchable archives. I can,
assure you, that attempting to get a consensus on what the date format
is - even if you suggest ISO - has, and probably will continue to,
produced what can only be described as cultural trench warfare. The last
time it appeared was before the adoption of the new Authoring Guide
(previously known as the Howto Howto)...
> In what context is this date format ambiguity causing problems?

As I've said above, if you stick with descriptive names and at least
name the month rather than number it, there doesn't appear to be too
many problems. However, the moment you say 1/4/2000 you can run into
trouble. Unfortunately documentation writers are not going to be able to
force people to use ISO _and_ make it blindingly simple to accept
documents (fancy something like your book, TDG - The Definitive Guide
being rejected because you'd used American style dates or Americanised
spelling and so forth)...

> With respect to the larger question of how to represent dates and
> times, I draw your attention to the lengthy and detailed discussions
> on the w3c-xml-schema-ig list.

I must have a look there. The point is, it is my opinion and
understanding that SGML and XML are used to mark up ideas in a coherent,
correct and sometimes valid manner. Relegating the "date wars" to an
entry in dbparam.dsl, for example, could be a way to avoid these types
of issues...

The hate stands ready...
 Send forth your terror into HELL!

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