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Status: Initial Draft ie. please focus on technical content, rather than wordsmithing at this stage.

Author: Richard Ishida

Identifying Date and Time


It should be possible to indicate in markup that a string represents an ISO 8601 date and/or time.


This would allow for identification of the locations of times and dates in content. In addition, it should allow the user to express the time/date in whatever way suits the current context, but provide an unambiguous way of identifying the specific date/time in question.

The solution must address questions relating to ambiguities introduced by time zones and daylight savings time.

The approach should use an ISO 8601 representation of the string for the canonical version.


This is still just an idea - it needs some discussion and research to determine whether it is viable. There have been suggestions for such a possibility for some time now in various places.

One possible approach may be to use an attribute on a date element for the ISO format of the string but allow the author to type the element content in any desired format. This would enable processors to correctly identify the date in question.

Use of the ISO 8601 standard (despite its flaws) provides a good basis for interoperability.

Implementations could reformat dates in some circumstances to fit the expectations of the users, if these are known. For example, dates included via scripting from a database could be adapted to a particular format before inclusion in a page. Alternatively, dates read from a page could be stored in a single consistent form in the database. Formats could also be applied automatically during translation, saving time for the translator and reducing the possibility of errors.

Some more thought should be given to how this fits with data types that can be declared using XML Schemas, and how this may or may not be related to form-based inputs (where the main difficulties arise in determining what the user meant).