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   Re: [xml-dev] W3C Schema: Resistance is Futile, says Don Box

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On Tue, Jun 11, 2002 at 09:23:44AM -0700, Dare Obasanjo wrote:
> > 
> > >Why would somebody who can't deal with date formats want to do that 
> > >sort of work?
> > 
> > It's not a matter of "can't deal with date formats".  It's a 
> > matter of 
> > respecting the original information and being capable of 
> > dealing with it as 
> > presented.  Not everyone is thrilled with normalization to ISO 8601 
> > Gregorian calendars.
> > 
> > (For a delightfully complex case, ask any pre-20th century 
> > historian about 
> > Julian dates and computers and comparisons between dates in different 
> > countries and what that does to things like representations 
> > of original 
> > documents.)
> Agreed. I was going to bring this up but saw you beat me to the punch.
> The problem with date formats is that  for normal every day usage there
> is simply no unified standard across the world. Considering that XML is
> supposed to be an international standard (Unicode and all) this is
> something worth noting instead of assuming everyone uses your date
> format of choice and it should be enforced on everyone else. 

Believe me, having lived overseas for 7 years--and in Japan, which has
long been given short shrift even by supposedly i18n-hip developers who
can't or won't deal with double-byte characters--I am well aware of that
issue. I was not arguing for universal constraints such as those
prescribed by XML Schema's type specification. But might it not be
useful and acceptable to have application-specific normalization in a
format of the developers' (or user community's) choice? Or would you
rather that every application that needs to automatically process dates
be prepared to handle every known date format on earth?

> > >  If the schema
> > >language or an individual schema required some cryptic, proprietary
> > >format I would agree. But any educated person can *understand*
> > >'2002-06-11' without too much effort.
> > 
> > I dunno.  Is that June 11 or November 6?  A normalization that makes
> > sense to your kind of educated person may not make sense to mine.

I said "without too much effort," not "instinctively." And the
YYYY-MM-DD format is widely used in Asian countries; I am unaware of any 
country that uses YYYY-DD-MM.

Which may be leading me to contradict myself ;-) I claim the YYYY-MM-DD
format is in practice unambiguous, but most of us know that MM/DD/YYYY
is easily confused with DD/MM/YYYY--and I've been infuriated more than
once by software that decided for me which one I was trying to enter.
Okay, so that's a case where clearly you can't rely on an application 
to interpret user input. I'm not sure it is a universal indictment of 
the idea of normalizing data formats.

Wouldn't you say that in the context of developing any given application
there is a substantial set of useful data that can be unambiguously
interpreted--whether fiat, or by virtue of agreements or shared culture?

Hmm ... maybe 'any given application' is a stretch ... how about 'many
types of applications'?

> Now I don't disagree with the fact that W3C XML Schema has date related
> types since many consider this essential but do question the assumption
> that there is one true, unambiguous, and universal date format that is
> accessible by lay people for every day usage. 

Then I think we have some common ground.

Matt Gushee
Englewood, Colorado, USA


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