[whatwg] Historic dates in HTML5

Jim O'Donnell jim at eatyourgreens.org.uk
Thu Mar 5 14:06:30 PST 2009

On 5 Mar 2009, at 15:17, Greg Houston wrote:

> Personally, I think it would be an improvement to the datetime
> attribute if it was valid for at least -9999 - 9999:
> <p> ... For these events to take place within a three week or so
> period is simply impossible. The <time
> datetime="-0004-03-13">eclipse</time> cannot be the one written in the
> records of Josephus.</p>

I agree that this would be an improvement, since it would make <time>  
compatible with hCalendar by using ISO8601 for datetime.

By remarkable serendipity, Paul Tarjan posted a presentation about  
searchmonkey today
It mentions searching the web by date, where that information is  
available. So I would say a key use case for marking up historic  
dates is searching large archives by date eg. searching the National  
Maritime Museum archive for Elizabethan Navy records dating from 1595.

Wikipedia uses the date-time design pattern, from microformats, to  
mark up historic dates using ISO8601. In addition, TEI is widely used  
by archives and libraries to mark up texts, including ISO8601 dates  
(http://www.tei-c.org/Guidelines/P4/html/ref-DATE.html). Since  
authors are already publishing dates online, surely HTML5 should  
accept all ISO8601 dates rather than a limited subset, which requires  
additional processing on the part of authoring and publishing  
software to filter out valid dates that are invalid HTML5.


Jim O'Donnell
jim at eatyourgreens.org.uk

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