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bug#25448: RFC 3339 misdescribed in doc of date(1)

From: Paul Eggert
Subject: bug#25448: RFC 3339 misdescribed in doc of date(1)
Date: Sun, 15 Jan 2017 00:10:25 -0800
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64; rv:45.0) Gecko/20100101 Thunderbird/45.5.1

Your bug report raised two points: the numeric time zone -00, and separating date from time with space instead of "T".

For -00, you're right that the documentation is messed up. While we're on the topic, 'date' should output the numeric time zone '-00' when the time zone is indeterminate. There's now a convention for indeterminate time zones in tzdb, and 'date' should respect that.

For space instead of T, as it happens I contributed to the drafting of RFC 3339. RFC 3339's note that allows a space instead of "T" was specifically put in with usages like GNU "date" in mind. It's irrelevant whether this note is specified in English or in EBNF: it's part of the spec. That being said, the documentation could be worded more carefully.

The examples are intended to explain the GNU 'date' formats well enough that the user shouldn't need detailed annotations or citations to chapter-and-verse of the relevant standards. In rereading the documentation now, I see an opportunity to streamline the wording a bit, to avoid a possible misinterpretation that the coreutils documentation describes "the" ISO 6801 format (ISO 8601 does not specify just one format) or "the" Internet RFC 3339 format (likewise).

While we're in the neighborhood, Internet RFC 2822 is now obsolete, and several URLs in the coreutils manual either no longer work or have been superseded. Instead of adding yet another option --rfc-5322 (will we keep adding more and more?) I added an option --rfc-email that is intended to stand for the latest-and-greatest Internet email date format.

I installed the attached patches to address all the issues that I found, which should fix Bug#25448.

Attachment: 0001-build-update-gnulib-submodule-to-latest.patch
Description: Text Data

Attachment: 0002-maint-modernize-URLs.patch
Description: Text Data

Attachment: 0003-date-new-option-spelling-rfc-email.patch
Description: Text Data

Attachment: 0004-date-output-00-for-indeterminate-time-zone.patch
Description: Text Data

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