[uf-discuss] Human and machine readable data format

Bob Jonkman bjonkman at sobac.com
Sat Jul 5 13:15:44 PDT 2008

On 3 Jul 2008 at 9:54, Guillaume Lebleu wrote:

> Bob, assuming that screen readers only read out the content of abbr's
> @title, this solution looks promising (I've tried with VoiceOver, but
> the title content is ignored.)
> The only problem of course is for human content authors who are 
> effectively asked to write the same information 3 times in 3 different
> formats (not very DRY)! 

Agreed.  So, based on Scott Reynen's observation that these 'date 
entities' don't need to be displayed (either visually or aurally) I 
propose that we dispense with the <abbr> tag altogether (and, IMHO, 
the semantic value of the date expansion).  We move on, the BBC 
publishes hCalendar again, and someone gets around to developing a 
genealogy microformat now that the date issue is settled.

> BTW, on the use of abbr for dates, I've researched a number of style
> guides such as [2]. It seems that "2/03/2005" is legitimate as an
> abbreviated form of the inline format "February 3, 2005".

> [2]
> http://web.mit.edu/comdor/editguide/style-matters/date_time.html#dates

I'm not sure that any particular style guide is authoritative. I had 
a look around some other sources, and while they mostly agree 
there's enough variation to make any date-parser author shudder in 
fear.  A most disturbing trend is the use of spelled out dates, eg. 
"the sixth of July 2008" [1].

A humourous aside:  I create computer systems validation 
documentation for a European consulting firm.  Oddly enough, they've 
decided on the American date format MM/DD/YY for all their systems 
documentation, not the ISO date standard.  My documents are 
constantly being returned to me for invalid dates -- my first 
inclination is to always write the date as YYYY-MM-DD, and 
DD/MM/YYYY as a second inclination.  Even MM/DD/YYYY gets returned 
as an invalid date.  Participation in the Microformats community 
hasn't helped my professional career :-)


[1] National Geographic Style Manual: DATES 


or http://natgeodatestyle.notlong.com for the word-wrap challenged.

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