[whatwg] <time>

Jim O'Donnell jim at eatyourgreens.org.uk
Mon Mar 16 13:42:49 PDT 2009

On 16 Mar 2009, at 20:10, Tom Duhamel wrote:

> It seems that pretty much everyone agrees on this:
> - Allow the use of an alternate calendar, but only Gregorian is  
> required to be understood by user agents
> - We only require the user agent to display dates; they are free to  
> do more if they like (conversion, ...) but are not required to.
> - Calendar is specified in a new attribute ('calendar' or something  
> similar) and the value of 'datetime' attibute is specified in the  
> calendar specified by that new attribute
> - If 'datetime' attribute is missing, try to interpret the content  
> as an ISO date. User agent could print the content as is, or print  
> in a more friendly way if desired (in case it was successfully read  
> as a valid ISO date).
> - If content is missing, print 'datetime' attribute (in a friendly  
> way, if desired and set by user, or simply as is if unable to do  
> better)
> - If both content and datetime are present, print content on page  
> and show a representation of the date in datetime with a mechanism  
> such as a tool tip

This seems overly complex to me.

Can we follow existing practice from TEI ie. datetime may only be  
Gregorian and no other calendar - calendar (if present) identifies  
the calendar in the original text (analogous to the way the HTML lang  
attribute indicates the language of the enclosed text).

So, a date marked up in a TEI document as
<date calendar ="julian" value="1547-02-28">18th Feb. 1546</date>
transforms to the following HTML
<time calendar="julian" value="1547-02-28">18th Feb. 1546</date>

My reasoning here is that TEI is already in widespread use, authors  
familiar with it will expect the same markup practices in HTML and  
one of the largest uses for historical dates as <time> elements will  
be transformation of existing TEI documents to HTML.

It seems dangerous, to me, to adopt a whole new standard for  
historical dates in HTML when there is an existing standard in wide use.
Essentially I'm asking that the spec for <time> mirror the existing  
spec for <date> to make it compatible with historical texts:


Jim O'Donnell
jim at eatyourgreens.org.uk

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