[uf-discuss] Formatting arbitrary dates, not part of hCalendar

Paul Wilkins pmw57 at xtra.co.nz
Fri Mar 9 01:33:50 PST 2007

Bob Jonkman wrote:

>Erm, neither.  My usage isn't meant to refer to a change in the document in which it appears 
>(ruling out the semantic use of <ins> and <del>), nor is it meant to refer to software 
>releases in particular. Let me try again:
>  <abbr title="2007-03-08">Today</abbr> I bought an old 
>  newspaper from <abbr title="2006-07-02">2 July 2006</abbr>
>These are arbitrary dates, NOT related to the publishing date of the document it appears in, 
>not related to any resources such as a software release.  I simply want dates occuring within 
>prose to be recognized as machine-readable dates.  This is for both for screen readers and 
>disabiguation of dates such as 3/2/2006 or 02-03-06.  It's also useful when quoting text with 
>poorly formatted dates, without altering the presentation of the original quote, eg.
>  The Constitution of <abbr title="1776-07-04">4/7/76</abbr>

 From what James was saying before, screen readers are going to 
misbehave with that kind of design pattern.
For abbr to be used, the information in the title has to be more 
meaningful to the human, than the information contained within.

>Andy Mabbett suggested a class of "dtstamp" which comes closer to what I intend, but the 
>iCalendar property DTSTAMP is specifically meant to indicate when an iCalendar object was 
>created, which is not the case here.
>Following the design pattern for dates, I think we need a semantic classname such as 
>"datetime" which James Craig pointed out is an attribute for <ins> and <del>
>  <abbr class="datetime" title="2006-03-02">March 2, 2006</abbr>
>Does such a classname for an arbitrary date/time already exist?  

Not for an arbitrary one. See 

A difficulty that I see here is that the abbr for March 2, 2006 doesn't 
disambiguate. It's perfectly clear what's going on in that particular case.

With the previous example, you might write the date as 4/7/76 and force 
the reader to find and use the abbreviation, but as someone who cares 
enough to create a datetime design pattern, it should be obvious that 
writing the date as July 4, 1776 solves the problem.

Another trouble is that with the arbitrary datetime pattern in use, how 
can the machine benefit from that information. It's not immediately clear.

So I have to ask, if the text can be more easily rewritten to be 
clearer, and the abbr element isn't going to allow the information to be 
processed by some program, then are we just creating a microformat here 
just for the sake of creating one?

Steps one and two of the microformat principles 
http://microformats.org/wiki/microformats#the_microformats_principles are
* Solve a specific problem
* Start as simple as possible

Problem. Date 02-03-06 can be misunderstood.
Solution: Write the date as March 2, 2006 or 2nd of March, 2006

Paul Mark Wilkins
New Zealand Tourism Online
pmw57 at xtra.co.nz <mailto:pmw57 at xtra.co.nz>
109 Tuam Street
Level 1
Christchurch 8011
New Zealand
+64 3 963 5039

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