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Sources for Time Zone and Daylight Saving

Time Data
@(#)tz-link.htm 8.15
Please send corrections to this web page to the time zone mailing list.

The tz database
The public-domain time zone database contains code and data that represent the history of
local time for many representative locations around the globe. It is updated periodically to
reflect changes made by political bodies to time zone boundaries, UTC offsets, and daylightsaving rules. This database (often called tz or zoneinfo) is used by several implementations,
including the GNU C Library used in GNU/Linux, FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, Cygwin,
DJGPP, AIX, Mac OS X, OpenVMS, Oracle Database, Solaris, Tru64, and UnixWare.
Each location in the database represents a national region where all clocks keeping local time
have agreed since 1970. Locations are identified by continent or ocean and then by the name
of the location, which is typically the largest city within the region. For example,
America/New_York represents most of the US eastern time zone; America/Phoenix
represents most of Arizona, which uses mountain time without daylight saving time (DST);
America/Detroit represents most of Michigan, which uses eastern time but with different
DST rules in 1975; and other entries represent smaller regions like Starke County, Indiana,
which switched from central to eastern time in 1991 and switched back in 2006. To use the
database on an extended POSIX implementation set the TZ environment variable to the
location's full name, e.g., TZ="America/New_York".
In the tz database's FTP distribution the code is in the file tzcodeC.tar.gz, where C is the
code's version; similarly, the data are in tzdataD.tar.gz, where D is the data's version. The
following shell commands download these files to a GNU/Linux or similar host; see the
downloaded README file for what to do next.
wget 'ftp://elsie.nci.nih.gov/pub/tz*.tar.gz'
gzip -dc tzcode*.tar.gz | tar -xf gzip -dc tzdata*.tar.gz | tar -xf -

The code lets you compile the tz source files into machine-readable binary files, one for each
location. It also lets you read a tz binary file and interpret time stamps for that location.
The data are by no means authoritative. If you find errors, please send changes to the time
zone mailing list. You can also browse recent messages sent to the mailing list, subscribe to it,
retrieve the full archive of old messages (in gzip compressed format), or retrieve archived
older versions of code and data; there is also a smaller HTTP mirror.
The Web has several other sources for time zone and daylight saving time data. Here are some
recent links that may be of interest.

Web pages using recent versions of the tz database

These are listed roughly in ascending order of complexity and fanciness.

Date and Time Gateway lets you see the TZ values directly.
Current Time in 1000 Places uses descriptions of the values.

Time Zone Converter uses a pulldown menu.

Complete timezone information for all countries displays tables of DST rules.

The World Clock - Time Zones lets you sort zone names and convert times.

Graphical Display of Time Zones and Daylight Saving Times shows a graph of time
difference versus time for any pair of locations.

The World Time Engine also contains data about time zone boundaries; it supports
queries via place names and shows location maps.

Other time zone database formats

The Internet Calendaring and Scheduling Core Object Specification (iCalendar),


Internet RFC 2445, published by the (now-concluded) IETF Calendaring and
Scheduling Working Group (calsch) covers time zone data; see its VTIMEZONE
calendar component. The Calendaring and Scheduling Consortium is promoting
further work in this area. iCalendar TIMEZONE Problems and Recommendations
offers guidelines and recommendations for the use of VTIMEZONE and tz.
Extended Daylight Saving Time Links, Advisories and Changes lists vendor material
on recent daylight saving time changes.

Timezone Registry and Service Recommendations discusses a strategy for defining


and deploying a time zone registration process that would establish unique names for
each version of each tz zone, along with a polygonal representation of the
geographical area corresponding to the zone.

The www-rdf-calendar list discusses RDF-based calendar and group scheduling


systems, and has a workspace on time zone data converted from tz. An earlier schema
was sketched out.

Other tz compilers

Vzic iCalendar Timezone Converter describes a C program that compiles tz source


into iCalendar-compatible VTIMEZONE files. Vzic is freely available under the GNU
General Public License (GPL).
tziCal - tz database conversion utility is like Vzic, except for the .NET framework.
DateTime::TimeZone contains a script parse_olson that compiles tz source into Perl
modules. It is part of the Perl DateTime Project, which is freely available under both
the GPL and the Perl Artistic License. DateTime::TimeZone also contains a script
tests_from_zdump that generates test cases for each clock transition in the tz
database.

International Components for Unicode (ICU) contains C/C++ and Java libraries for
internationalization that has a compiler from tz source into an ICU-specific format.
ICU is freely available under a BSD-style license.

Joda Time - Java date and time API contains a class


org.joda.time.tz.ZoneInfoCompiler that compiles tz source into a Joda-specific
binary format. Joda Time is freely available under a BSD-style license.

PyTZ - Python Time Zone Library compiles tz source into Python. It is freely
available under a BSD-style license.

TZInfo - Ruby Timezone Library compiles tz source into Ruby. It is freely available
under the MIT license.

The Chronos Date/Time Library is a Smalltalk class library that compiles tz source
into a time zone repository whose format is either proprietary or an XML-encoded
representation.

Starting with version 8.5, Tcl contains a developer-oriented parser that compiles tz
source into text files, along with a runtime that can read those files. Tcl is freely
available under a BSD-style license.

Other tz binary file readers

The GNU C Library has an independent, thread-safe implementation of a tz binary


file reader. This library is freely available under the GNU Lesser General Public
License (LGPL), and is widely used in GNU/Linux systems.
ZoneInfo.java is a tz binary file reader written in Java. It is freely available under the
LGPL.
Tcl, mentioned above, also contains a tz binary file reader.

Other tz-based time zone software

FoxClocks is an extension for Mozilla Toolkit applications like Firefox, Thunderbird,


and Sunbird. It displays multiple clocks in the application window, and has a mapping
interface to Google Earth. It is freely available under the GPL.
International clock (intclock) is a multi-timezone clock for GNU/Linux and similar
systems. It is freely available under the GPL.

PublicDomain has a copy of a recent tz database, accessed via a C# library. As its


name suggests, it is in the public domain. Only current time stamps are well
supported; historical data are compiled into the runtime but are not easily accessible.

Sun Java releases since 1.4 contain a copy of a subset of a recent tz database in a
Java-specific format.

Time Zone is a WordPress plugin. It is freely available under a BSD-style license.

VelaTerra is a Mac OS X program. Its developers offer free licenses to tz contributors.

World Time Explorer is a Microsoft Windows program.

Other time zone databases

Atlas Query is Astrodienst's Web version of Shanks's excellent time zone history
atlases published in both computer and book form (one volume for the USA, and one
for other locations) by Astro Communications Services.
WORLDTIME: interactive atlas, time info, public holidays contains information on
local time, sunrise and sunset, and public holidays in several hundred cities around the
world.

World Time Server is another time zone database.

World Time Zones contains data from the Time Service Department of the US Naval
Observatory, used as the source for the usno* files in the tz distribution.

The Standard Schedules Information Manual of the International Air Transport


Association gives current time zone rules for airports served by commercial aviation.

Some Microsoft Windows versions contain time zone information in an undocumented


format, with IDs that can be mapped to TZ values using the Windows Tzid table
maintained by the CLDR data mentioned below.

Maps

The United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) publishes a time zone map; the
Perry-Castaeda Library Map Collection of the University of Texas at Austin has
copies of recent editions. The pictorial quality is good, but the maps do not indicate
summer time, and parts of the data are a few years out of date.
Current time around the world and standard time zones map of the world has several
fancy time zone maps; it covers Russia particularly well. The maps' pictorial quality is
not quite as good as the CIA's but the maps are more up to date.

Time zone boundaries

A map of the TZ timezones in the US contains a shapefile of the tz regions in the US.
Administrative Divisions of Countries ("Statoids") contains detailed lists of tz-related
zone subdivision data.

Time zone boundaries for multizone countries summarizes legal boundaries between
time zones within countries.

Manifold.net's Free Maps and GIS Data includes a Manifold-format map of world
time zone boundaries distributed under the GPL.

The US Geological Survey's National Atlas of the United States publishes the Time
Zones of the United States in the public domain.

The GeoCommunity lists several commercial sources for International Time Zones
and Time Zone Data.

A ship within the territorial waters of any nation uses that nation's time. In
international waters, time zone boundaries are meridians 15 apart, except that

UTC12 and UTC+12 are each 7.5 wide and are separated by the 180 meridian (not
by the International Date Line, which is for land and territorial waters only). A captain
can change ship's clocks any time after entering a new time zone; midnight changes
are common.

Civil time concepts and history

A Walk through Time surveys the evolution of timekeeping.


About Daylight Saving Time - History, rationale, laws & dates is an overall history of
DST.

Saving Time, Saving Energy discusses a primary justification for DST.

Who Knew? A Brief History of Daylight Saving Time summarizes some of the
contentious history of DST.

The Time of Internet describes time zones and daylight saving time, with diagrams.
The time zone map is out of date, however.

A History of the International Date Line tells the story of the most important time zone
boundary.

Basic Time Zone Concepts discusses terminological issues behind time zones.

National histories of legal time


Australia
The Parliamentary Library has commissioned research note on daylight saving time in
Australia. The Bureau of Meteorology publishes a list of Implementation Dates of
Daylight Savings Time within Australia.
Belgium
The Royal Observatory of Belgium maintains a table of time in Belgium (in Dutch).
Brazil
The Time Service Department of the National Observatory records Brazil's daylight
saving time decrees (in Portuguese).
Canada
The Institute for National Measurement Standards publishes current and some older
information about Time Zones & Daylight Saving Time.
Chile
The Chilean Hydrographic and Oceanographic Service publishes a history of official
time (in Spanish).
Germany
The National Institute for Science and Technology maintains the Realisation of Legal
Time in Germany.
Israel
The Interior Ministry periodically issues announcements (in Hebrew).
Mexico
The Investigation and Analysis Service of the Mexican Library of Congress has
published a history of Mexican local time (in Spanish).
Malaysia

See Singapore below.


Netherlands
Legal time in the Netherlands (in Dutch) covers the history of local time in the
Netherlands from ancient times.
New Zealand
The Department of Internal Affairs maintains a brief history About Daylight Saving.
The privately-maintained History of New Zealand time has more details.
Norway
The Norwegian Meteorological Institute lists Summer time in Norway (in
Norwegian), citing the Institute of Theoretical Astrophysics, Oslo.
Singapore
Why is Singapore in the "Wrong" Time Zone? details the history of legal time in
Singapore and Malaysia.
United Kingdom
History of legal time in Britain discusses in detail the country with perhaps the bestdocumented history of clock adjustments. The National Physical Laboratory also
maintains an Archive of Summer time dates.

Precision timekeeping

The Science of Timekeeping is a thorough introduction to the theory and practice of


precision timekeeping.
NTP: The Network Time Protocol discusses how to synchronize clocks of Internet
hosts.

Timezone Options for DHCP (Internet RFC 4833) specifies a DHCP option for a
server to configure a client's time zone and daylight saving settings automatically.

A Few Facts Concerning GMT, UT, and the RGO answers questions like "What is the
difference between GMT and UTC?"

Astronomical Times explains more abstruse astronomical time scales like TDT, TCG,
and TDB. Time Scales goes into more detail, particularly for historical variants.

The IAU's SOFA initiative publishes Fortran code for converting among time scales
like TAI, TDB, TDT and UTC.

Basics of Space Flight - Reference Systems - Time Conventions briefly explains


interplanetary space flight timekeeping.

Technical Notes on Mars Solar Time as Adopted by the Mars24 Sunclock briefly
describes Mars Coordinated Time (MTC) and the diverse local time scales used by
each landed mission on Mars.

LeapSecond.com is dedicated not only to leap seconds but to precise time and
frequency in general. It covers the state of the art in amateur timekeeping, and how the
art has progressed over the past few decades.

Bulletins maintained by the IERS EOP (PC) contains official publications of the Earth
Orientation Parameters Product Center of the International Earth Rotation Service, the
committee that decides when leap seconds occur.

The Leap Second Discussion List covers McCarthy and Klepczynski's proposal to
discontinue leap seconds, discussed further in The leap second: its history and possible
future. The AAS Leap Second Committee has solicited input on this proposal. The
Future of Leap Seconds covers this contentious issue.

Time notation

A Summary of the International Standard Date and Time Notation is a good summary
of ISO 8601:2004 -- Data elements and interchange formats -- Information
interchange -- Representation of dates and times.
XML Schema: Datatypes - dateTime specifies a format inspired by ISO 8601 that is in
common use in XML data.

Internet Message Format (Internet RFC 2822) 3.3 specifies the time notation used in
email and HTTP headers.

Date and Time on the Internet: Timestamps (Internet RFC 3339) specifies an ISO
8601 profile for use in new Internet protocols.

Date & Time Formats on the Web surveys web- and Internet-oriented date and time
formats.

The Best of Dates, the Worst of Dates covers many problems encountered by software
developers when handling dates and time stamps.

The Unicode Common Locale Data Repository (CLDR) Project has localizations for
time zone names, abbreviations, identifiers, and formats. For example, it contains
French translations for "Eastern European Summer Time", "EEST", and "Bucharest".
By-Type Chart: names.metazone shows these values for many locales. ICU contains a
mechanism for using this data.

Alphabetic time zone abbreviations should not be used as unique identifiers for UTC
offsets as they are ambiguous in practice. For example, "EST" denotes 5 hours behind
UTC in English-speaking North America, but it denotes 10 or 11 hours ahead of UTC
in Australia; and French-speaking North Americans prefer "HNE" to "EST". For
POSIX the tz database contains English abbreviations for all time stamps but in many
cases these are merely inventions of the database maintainers.

Numeric time zone abbreviations typically count hours east of UTC, e.g., +09 for
Japan and -10 for Hawaii. However, the POSIX TZ environment variable uses the
opposite convention. For example, one might use TZ="JST-9" and TZ="HST10" for
Japan and Hawaii, respectively. If the tz database is available, it is usually better to
use settings like TZ="Asia/Tokyo" and TZ="Pacific/Honolulu" instead, as this
should avoid confusion, handle old time stamps better, and insulate you better from
any future changes to the rules. One should never set POSIX TZ to a value like "GMT9", though, since this would falsely claim that local time is nine hours ahead of UTC
and the time zone is called "GMT".

Related indexes

Time and the Arts

Open Directory - Reference: Time

Google Directory - Reference > Time

Yahoo! Directory > Science > Measurements and Units > Time