Here in this modern world, things should be simple and unambiguous. If only this were true! Here's a simple example:
I now tell you that this is a date. When is it?
- 1st February, 2003?
- 2nd January, 2003?
- 3rd February, 2001?
All these are in use in various parts of our world, and can make life on the internet confusing, at the least. The "MM/DD/YY" format is common in U.S.A., here in Australia and in the UK the format "DD/MM/YY" is widely used. And in Europe and parts of Asia, "YY/MM/DD" is in common use. So what can be done? Simple, follow the standard: ISO 8601:1988 - International Date Format. For dates, this standard recommends the following format:
This format has a few advantages:
- It is unambiguous. A useful trait, one would think.
- It has a consistent length.
- It may be easily sorted (for those UNIX geeks, think sort(1)).
- It is recognised by far more people world wide than any other format.
- It is consistent with common time formats (HH:MM:SS), that is, most significant units come first.
- It is a standard, from the International Organisation for Standardisation.
Please, can we start using this?
- ISO 8601 at www.wikipedia.org.
- Date format by country at www.wikipedia.org.
- Date and time notation by country at www.wikipedia.org.
- Calendar date at www.wikipedia.org.
- A Summary of the International Standard Date and Time Notation by Markus Kuhn.
- RFC 3339: Date and Time on the Internet: Timestamps.
- W3C Date and Time Formats.