Calendar Types

Seth Kurtzberg seth at
Tue Feb 15 00:51:17 EST 2005

Marcin 'Qrczak' Kowalczyk wrote:

>Seth Kurtzberg <seth at> writes:
>>So, a time zone, at least one based on geographical location, isn't
>>sufficient.  Accounting for daylight savings doesn't cover every case
>>either; I gave a couple of examples but doubtless there are many
>>others I don't know about.
>Linux (glibc) tries to provide that information. It has lots of rules
>even for weird timezones.
>>I think the only way to handle it is with an argument that allows
>>the user to override the offset that the machine itself uses.
>It's fine to be able to override, but the default should definitely be
>taken from the OS.
>It is possible to discover the offset which should be used for the
>given timestamp, but it's clumsy: do localtime() and gmtime(), and
>subtract the results:
>      diff = (((loc.tm_wday - gm.tm_wday)
>         * 24 + (loc.tm_hour - gm.tm_hour))
>         * 60 + (loc.tm_min - gm.tm_min))
>         * 60 + (loc.tm_sec - gm.tm_sec);
>      if (diff < -302400) diff += 604800;
>      else if (diff >= 302400) diff -= 604800;
>Linux has tm_gmtoff, it can be used instead if it's available -
>it's not portable.
>You will not know which part of the difference is due to geographical
>location and which is due to DST, but usually it doesn't matter. You
>can only know whether DST is in effect or not: tm_isdst.
>When converting in the other direction, from broken-down time to
>timestamp, sometimes the DST is not known, yet its useful to guess it,
>even though one hour in a year is ambiguous and another is impossible.
>Libc can be used for that: call mktime() with tm_isdst less than 0,
>and then either use tm_gmtoff or call gmtime() and subtract the results
>as before.
>If the year is outside the range supported by libc, I'm afraid there
>is no OS-provided way to take DST into account, at least on Linux.
>You can sometimes infer the geographical timezone: call tzset() and
>use variable 'extern long timezone;', if it exists and has the correct
>type - it's not portable. Note: it has the opposite sign to tm_gmtoff.
True, it isn't portable, but no solution is portable.  So you either 
don't handle it, or handle it in a similar way to what you suggest.

Thinking about it, the time zone issue should be separated from this 
library, for the same reasons that it has been argued that a leap second 
table should be separate.  And, as has been suggested for the leap 
second dilemma, you can use the functions in the low level library and 
enhance them for leap seconds, time zones, or whichever other variations 
that come up.

One thing that this thread has emphasized is that working with time is 
complicated.  I've been converted to the view of others in the thread 
that time library under discussion should handle the functions whose 
behavior is clear, and handle the things that are more controversial, or 
just less standardized, in a wrapper library (or libraries).

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