[uf-discuss] human readable date parsing

Jon Tan microformats at gr0w.com
Wed May 2 15:46:59 PDT 2007

James Craig wrote:
> Tim Parkin wrote:
>> [...] Shouldn't the focus be on trying to standardise date
>> formats rather than trying to hide the iso date? If we can get a parser
>> to recognise 'human readable' dates (which *is* possible, if not totally
>> easy, http://labix.org/python-dateutil for a python version).
> I disagree. If you try to make other, human readable formats into a 
> standard, they will fall short when it comes time to 
> internationaliz(s)e it. If you can come up with a better format 
> readable to all machine and all humans in all languages, I'll recant.
> I think the ISO 8601 is the best machine data format for the job. I 
> just don't think it should be in abbr.
Agreed, James. ISO 8601 is the best format. There may be an option to 
have a space in the notation between the date and time thus removing the 
"T" [1],[2]. E.g:

2007-05-20 12:34

This is read by JAWS 8.0 in IE6 and IE7 as "two thousand seven dash zero 
five dash twenty twelve thirty-four" (via Jon Gibbins [3]).

However, RFC 3339 [4] or W3C Date and Time format note [5] doesn't 
feature a space in the available examples.

The issue for me is we're trying to fit a machine readable date in to a 
human readable form. All users (whether visually impaired or not) still 
need to know the format or learn it as they have to learn every 
interface element at first contact.

No matter what the notation is, it will always be fairly ambiguous. 
Prepending the value still seems to me to be worthy of consideration in 
order to provide context and help users to learn the notation in a some 
way. After first coming across it, at least screen reader users (and 
everyone else) can choose not expand attribute values for dates and 
times (choosing not to learn it as irrelevant), or search to learn more 
about the notation.

Jon Tan

[1] http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/~mgk25/iso-time.html ("Time of day" section)
[2] http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/iso8601.html (in the summary)
[4] http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc3339.txt
[5] http://www.w3.org/TR/NOTE-datetime

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