I want to use the standard, International Date Format ie "YYYY-MM-DD" - how?

+11 votes
It appears that there is no way to use the standard, International Date format for displaying dates?


in Policy and Style by Philip Rhoades G2G Crew (500 points)
That's the way it is unfortunately.  However, you can enter them that way but they display as month, day year.  More info at http://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Date_Fields#Input_Formats
That's what I thought but the software should really be enhanced to deal with the standard International Date Format . . UK / US / Aus dates are primitive . .


I've never actually seen any date entered as YYYY-MM-DD and have lived and worked in five different countries - Africa, America, Spain, Belgium and Britain.
Try working in IT - if you are comparing lots of text lines or filenames or related stuff, you NEED to be able to sort things into order alphanumerically . . once you start doing that, it makes sense to use the format everywhere . .
Um, yes have worked briefly in I.T. never used it.  Worked for international companies e.g. Banking world hence moved from country to country.

Just raised this question with my brother he's an I.T. security consultant - who works for the American, British, Canadian and Saudi Governments setting up their I.T. security systems -- um he just uses the date format that the country uses.

I find with a date like 2016-02-07 can be confusing - it could be 2nd July 2016 or 7th February 2016.

Well I've learned something today an "international date".
Try doing a listing of files with dates in the name, in date order, with something other than the International Date Format . .

I prefer DD MM YYYY personally, makes much more sense to Kiwi me ... regardless if it's primitive in the eyes of some. I get mixed up with for example 9/11 - I have to think twice as my first thought is always 9th of November!

Day, Month, Year is what I was brought up with but sometimes we said February the 2nd 1940 etc, but only when we named the month. When I wrote software for my own amusement it was no problem to make it sort Year, Month, Day.

2 Answers

+7 votes
Best answer
I work internationally occasionally, and converted myself to yyyy-mm-dd (ISO8601:2004, to give it its proper name) many years ago for the sorting, processing and unambiguity benefits. About a billion people in China use it too. And the Chinese style of writing addresses has merits: Country, Province, City, District, Street, Building, Floor, Apartment, Person.

All my dates in my other FH software are in it, and I use it in Wikitree biography timelines.

The important aspect is being 'monotonic', that is consistently big to small, or small to big, but not a mixture.
by Chris Little G2G6 Mach 3 (39.4k points)
selected by Eric Weddington

Agree 100% with Chris.

The standard is ISO 8601. See the wikipedia article in the link for details and the history of this format. It's been around since 1988. I've used this date format exclusively since the mid '90s on everything I use and sign.

This is an international standard. It was created to avoid the confusion of various local date formats.

In fact, THE international standard for dates and times - it replaced many other existing international standards in the 1990s. Let us not mention leap seconds.
+3 votes
Or in the case of UK & Australia, ours display as day, month, year.
by Tess Cameron G2G6 Mach 4 (48.7k points)

Things are changing - the recently upgraded Trove searches use the international format, (yyyy/mm/dd), as do most government and banking sites.
I think the biggest reason for using dd Mon yyyy is that there's no way to be confused.  No matter where you live and the local conventions, it's self-evident what is day and what is month and what is year.  As long as you can figure out the way the database you're drawing data from is designed, what you enter in WikiTree will be understood.And the database can easily work to sort the dates since there's only one format it has to work with. What would be nice would be a way to display dates for each individual in that individual's favorite form.  But this is a free site and minimizing system resource usage is important to keep it that free.
That's what I like about DD MM YYYY, no way to get confused. MM DD YYYY is quite ridiculous, imho ;) And YYYY MM DD, well that's just backwards.
@Dave, Nicky:

There is a problem with using DD MM YYYY format, and that is ordering and sorting.

We have numbers that go, LEFT to RIGHT, most significant digit to least significant digit. This makes it easy to see at a glance which number is greater or lesser.

For example, what if numbers were reversed? Which is greater:



If numbers were backwards you would have to read the digits right to left to determine the sort order.

This international standard was created to solve the same kind of problem with dates and times in digital system. The most significant part of the date comes first, the year. Then the next significant, the month, then the least significant, the date.

That way you can tell at a glance that 2016-01-06 (January 6) comes before (is less than) 2016-06-01 (June 1).

This standard has been around for almost 30 years. It's not going to change because you don't like it. It's used everywhere in database systems across the world.

(Side note, part of the reason why the whole Y2K issue was overblown, and hardly anything happened. The problem was solved way ahead of time.)
I don't support dd mm yyyy.  I support dd Mon yyyy.  They are very different.  the only difficulty of Mon is that different languages have different names for the months.  This can most always be solved by a lookup table.  Dates are not numbers per se. They need not be treated the same.  And all but a couple of western languages read left to right, so you won't see how a a date advances until you get to the far end of it anyway.  If you're going through a list of sorted birth dates, say, you have to keep glancing along the number to see if the day has changed whereas if the day is first, you only have to look at the first two numbers til you get where you want to be and then glance over to see if the month and year are still what you want.  The computers don't particularly where the parts of a date are located. If you're going to have even the slightest amount of validity checking you're going to have to do things like make sure the day is between 1 and 31, the month from 1 to 12 anyway, so you have to have the date split up anyway.
For a computer system, dates ARE numbers. It's humans that require dates and calendars that conform to local customs and cultures.

The solution to all of this is extremely simple and has been implemented by the likes of Microsoft for decades (c.f. their office software). And that is allow the ability for a user to select the format of the display of the date. That way everyone can change it to some local setting of their choice.

The request here, is not to change everything to the ISO 8601 format. It's the ability to ALSO select the display to this format too.

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