[whatwg] ISO 639 / ISO 3166 / ISO 4217 inputs

Christian Schmidt whatwg.org at chsc.dk
Fri Aug 27 06:08:52 PDT 2004

Ian Hickson wrote:
> The problem is that even if the list is updated, the UAs aren't. If this 
> had been done from the start, people using IE2 would have ancient country 
> lists, and there would be little that page authors could do about it.
People using legacy UAs would have to either enter their country code 
directly in a text field or select their country from a list of provided 
by the page author or the author of the Webforms-for-legacy-UA's-library 
he is using. So adding a country selector to the Webforms specification 
would be status quo for users of legacy UAs.

On the other hand, if a user lives in a new country, he could either 
upgrade his UA or update the country list (if it is editable), or he 
could wait for each and every site owner in the world to update their 
list. If it is a small country, this could take a long time. For these 
users, upgrading their UA or editing the country list would probably be 

One could imagine, that the country list could be updated by e.g. 
Windows Update (this would be a very small download) without upgrading 
the entire browser.

Also, new countries don't just appear from day to day, so the users will 
have some time to upgrade.

> Also, note that vendors typically want to stay WELL away from specifying 
> stuff like this. Microsoft got in serious trouble when they drew a map for 
> the timezone selector -- based on UN data! -- of countries near India, and 
> got disputed regions... "wrong".
Somebody still has to make a decision, unless the server accepts any 
two-letter code without checking whether this is actually a real country.

I suggest that the UA could contain a default list of countries based on 
UN data or whatever. It should be possible for the user to add entries 
to this list by entering a country name and a two-letter code. The 
server should accept any two-letter code, unless it knows for sure that 
it isn't a valid code (according to the page author's point of view).

Most users would probably only ever select one or two different 
countries from this list (typically the country they currently live in). 
If these countries do not appear in the list provided by the UA vendor, 
the user would only have to enter them once. This would only apply to 
few users, namely those who live in places that have disputes about the 
country code.


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