[uf-discuss] Expanding the abbr pattern

Ben Wiley Sittler bsittler at gmail.com
Thu May 3 09:09:06 PDT 2007

i think the abbr pattern is a valid one. moving the unambiguous
timestamp to some place humans can't see it is asking for it to be
removed be a third party (whether that is a screenreader, an html
sanitizer, or a web browser makes little difference.) and of course in
some cases you can get away with not using abbr:

Q1 '07: <span class="dtstart">2007-01-01</span> through <span

with hyphens it's reasonably human-readable. i've been using fully
punctuated iso 8601 date notation it everyday life (checks, contracts,
even announcements) for years with no problems whatsoever. (e.g.
2007-03-12) this seems suitable for use in an abbr title. however, the
combined datetime notation is a bit awkward due to the 'T' and time
zone suffix (the former needed for separation from date and the latter
needed for disambiguation -- the problem is that time zones are not
widely understood regardless of notation.)

treating whitespace as a field separator and so allowing <date> <time>
to be equivalent to <date>T<time> removes one of the complaints, and
forcing the human-readable timestamp into GMT/UTC eliminates another
(microformats and other broadly-consumed data should probably default
to GMT when no timezone is specified.) however this leaves us with the
still-difficult problem of explaining a time from another timezone.
maybe we need a dhtml widget to localize times for display, while
allowing the page to contain only GMT/UTC?

anyhow, sorry for the slightly-off-topic brainstorming,

On 5/2/07, Ben Buchanan <microformats at 200ok.com.au> wrote:
> > So, I started this response thinking "How does a full-string timestamp /not/ disambiguate a March 2 date in the following?"
> My answer is: by not being human-readable :) The example in the
> original post shows the problem:
> <abbr class="dtstart" title="20070312T1700-06">
>  March 12, 2007 at 5 PM, Central Standard Time
> </abbr>
> When vocalised, that title is less useful than the text it potentially
> replaces (screen readers may read just the text, just the title or
> both).
> Perhaps I should have said "effective disambiguation, for all human users".
> At any rate, I think the main problem was referring to different
> examples - in yours, the shorter date probably would make sense to all
> users and yes it disambiguates. The datestamp in the microformat
> however, does not disambiguate for humans.
> ...and I think I've used up my quota for "disambiguate", so I'll end there ;)
> cheers,
> Ben
> --
> --- <http://weblog.200ok.com.au/>
> --- The future has arrived; it's just not
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