The evolving Story of Locale Support, part 1 (Some people don't want to double-d's)

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2011/11/01 07:01 -04:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2011/11/01/10232070.aspx


Please forgive the juvenile nature of the blog title; frankly, you deserve better.

So if  you go back to April, Paul Thurrott, was writing about the Windows 8 Lock Screen (right here):

This is Paul's art, I must point out.

At the point where that screenshot was being taken my Windows 8 looked just like my Windows 7, since I did not have one of the magic keys to unlock all the new user interface stuff.

I didn't mind really -- I mean, I liked Windows 7. I could wait a bit.

Now I have no inside knowledge about the welcome screen (that shows up when you boot up), or the lock screen (after you hit <WIN><L>).

But I will talk about an interesting side issue that led to the fairly inappropriate blog today. :-)

Now when you look at the date and time values, it looks something like

hh:mm tt

dddd

MMM dd

But it led to an interesting conversation between us and the team doing a bunch of the work here.

The question related to that use of dd rather than d.

I mean (to delve back into the mildly inappropriate metaphor for a moment), perhaps one can argue that slapping a "double-d" in this situation might be needlessly complex and may be in fact be overkill if a single "d" that would stretch as needed for two digit numbers but remain more slender when one can fit quite comfortably in the thinner numbers.

For me personally, both November 1 and November 01 are readable, and neither would feel wrong to me. I mean to say that I care, but neither is wrong to me.

Let's call this the first category of reactions, since it's my reaction!

There are three others:

If you look across the gamut of different date formats across all locales, they are all over the map in this regard.

And nowhere within the locale data itself can the answer be found, generally -- there is no way distinguish between categories 2/3, and the other two.

But what if you wanted a feature to always be Single D unless people in a given locale generally preferred to be Double D?

Well, there some of the question could be indirectly answered by looking at the default date formats and all the defined alternate formats -- e.g. if every single format is dd then perhaps one would never want d no matter how the feature is designed.

But the locales where we can infer such answers are obvious are limited, and mostly there is no way to know what preference would be..

I mean, other than by explicitly asking the question of some people.

Which, in the end, is what we have to be in the process of doing....

In addition to the formal processes, I figured there is no harm in asking here how people feel about April 1 versus April 01, in your own language (if you tell me, be sure to tell me what your language is, of course!)....

For the record, let me point out incredibly grateful that the metaphor of the Double-D brassiere and the "Double-d" date format element could not be reasonably argued, or I may have gone down that road. I've done worse....


MNGoldenEagle on 1 Nov 2011 7:21 AM:

In the English case, I'd argue for the single D.  This is a user interface whose target audience is intended for general users across an entire gamut.  We're not just talking about programmers and engineers, we're also talking about children, the elderly, technoilliterates, and so on.  For these people, when they see a number less than ten they expect that leading zeroes are dropped, otherwise it will look strange to them ("why isn't the computer smart enough to know it doesn't need that zero there?").  I can understand why programmers, accountants, and engineers would prefer or be comfortable with leading zeroes, but in general I think the public is more comfortable without.  Not to mention it also follows general writing patterns: when you write the date on a check or letter, you don't include leading zeroes, do you?

pc on 1 Nov 2011 7:30 AM:

As an American, I definitely think of no-leading-zeros as being "normal" and "correct", and leading-zeros as meaning "a computer somewhere isn't smart enough to figure out how to format dates without dropping leading zeros".

Doug Ewell on 1 Nov 2011 7:45 AM:

What @MNGoldenEagle said. More precisely: displaying "November 01" in a U.S. English context where the zero isn't *absolutely necessary* for some reason is just plain silly, and is the kind of thing people used to call "computerese" back before we got inured to computerese.

John Cowandddd on 1 Nov 2011 8:08 AM:

So tell us, Michael, just why is it Double-D and not E?  For E it truly is, as indicated by the fact that the next size up is F, followed by G (I have known Fs but not Gs).

I can't imagine that any locale actually wants dd in a construction like this (as opposed to where you are generating a fixed-length string for sorting or file naming or what not).  I can see an artist wanting dd because he (rightly) thinks it looks more "computerish".

Michael S. Kaplan on 1 Nov 2011 8:10 AM:

John, the rules about sizes are clear, unambiguous, and only relevant here due to my immaturity streak!

Michael S. Kaplan on 1 Nov 2011 8:29 AM:

To answer the other point, there are places where people would expect that zero padding. And some were it is their default but they don't need it here. Thus the interesting quandry!

Quppa on 1 Nov 2011 9:09 AM:

For English, I think I prefer 'dd' for aesthetic reasons - the leading zero adds bulk; without it, the single digit might feel lonely out there by itself, separated from the other characters by space. :) There are things in Windows 8 that I feel more strongly about than this, however.

I note that for English (United States), all the default 'long date' formats include 'dd' (either 'MMMM dd' or 'dd MMMM'), while in English (Australia), only options with 'd MMMM' are available. For English (United Kingdom), both 'd MMMM' and 'dd MMMM' are present as options. Will Windows 8 take into account the currently selected 'long date' format here?

Will CJK users have vertically aligned dates, as in the WP7.1 lock screen? (And will that be optional?) www.istartedsomething.com/.../windows-phone-7-mango-east-asian-language-tidbits

Alex Cohn on 1 Nov 2011 1:19 PM:

For Russian, a genitive form of the month with no leading zero for date is expected, like 1 ноября. But generally speaking, we are discussing the format before the user had a chancr to set her personal preferences for long date format, aren't we?

Doug Ewell on 1 Nov 2011 1:29 PM:

Most users don't bother to set their personal preferences for long date format, or don't know it's possible. It's one of the first things I do with any computer I'm going to spend any time on (along with setting short date to yyyy-MM-dd and time to H:mm:ss, which I do NOT expect most Americans to do).

Ruben on 1 Nov 2011 3:37 PM:

Not sure if my post cane through, so here's another try.

For Dutch, I'd say a single D. I've never seen anything like "Maart 01" -- I'd probably interpret it like March 2001 (more likely I'd be startled by the weird notation). I've never seen "Maart 1" either, as neither spoken Dutch nor written Dutch uses month-before-day dates. It's not US English after all. So both options are wrong for Dutch.

I'd go for "d MMM" ("1 maart"; Dutch doesn't capitalize day or month names either, unless they start a sentence).

And "hh:mm tt"? Really? Who uses AM/PM these days? (Except, again, those who use US English.) In written Dutch it's always either HH:mm or H:mm. The 2x12 hour time notation was phased out somewhere in the first half of the twentieth century, I believe. And "AM" and "PM" (or "v.m." and "n.m.") were rarely used. And I'd wager that's true for nearly any language other than US English.

Steve 'Sly' Williams on 1 Nov 2011 4:37 PM:

Windows Phone has done the same thing on its lock screen, so it's not just new behaviour in Windows 8.  The older you are, the more the leading zero on the date looks wrong.

Michael S. Kaplan on 1 Nov 2011 8:16 PM:

The scenario isn't new, but doing it right is!

Mike Dimmick on 2 Nov 2011 5:26 AM:

I'd have to agree with the others; it should be

[Short-Time]

dddd

[Long-Date without year part]

Or even with year part.

Of course you have the problem of whether you present this in the last user's selected format, or whether it's in the system default locale. Perhaps use last-logged-on user, unless the policy to not show who last logged on is set, in which case use system default?

John Cowan on 2 Nov 2011 9:39 AM:

[Looks like my comment got lost, unless you are just sitting on it.]

Double-Ds do indeed require zero padding (as do Fs and Gs).


referenced by

2012/10/26 The evolving Story of Locale Support, part 28: We finally fixed that 'Install New Languages' thing!

2012/10/02 The evolving Story of Locale Support, part 27: No, the T and the H aren't silent...

2012/08/20 The evolving Story of Locale Support, part 26: Hey Windows 8, there's someone on the phone for you.

2012/07/12 Something old, something new, something repurposed, and something blue - ME!

2012/07/11 The evolving Story of Locale Support, part 25: Something old, something new, something repurposed, and something...

2012/06/07 The evolving Story of Locale Support, part 24: I Adar you! Hell, I Double Adar you! (Windows 8 ed.)

2012/06/05 The evolving Story of Locale Support, part 23: Tamazight? Outta sight!

2012/04/12 The evolving Story of Locale Support, part 22: Digit Substitution 2.0

2012/03/08 The evolving Story of Locale Support, part 21: The Windows 8 Hijripalooza extraordinaire!

2012/03/02 The evolving Story of Locale Support, part 20: Yes, it's Bangla. Not Bengali!

2012/02/21 The evolving Story of Locale Support, part 19: In honor of International Mother Language Day...

2012/02/15 The evolving Story of Locale Support, part 18: Two scripts that share ten digits can be trouble

2012/02/02 The evolving Story of Locale Support, part 17: Today I feel like translating you more than before

2012/01/24 The evolving Story of Locale Support, part 16: We can't scale to a Xishuangbanna Dai locale, but…

2012/01/17 The evolving Story of Locale Support, part 15: Fixing our listings up in Windows 8!

2011/12/22 The evolving Story of Locale Support, part 14: Tifinagh, Tamazight, and Berber? Oh my!

2011/12/21 The evolving Story of Locale Support, part 13: Divvying up locales, yet again!

2011/12/09 The evolving Story of Locale Support, part 12: Logic dictates that we keep a sense of proportion about the RATIO

2011/11/23 The evolving Story of Locale Support, part 11: What language is that keyboard for?

2011/11/22 The evolving Story of Locale Support, part 10: Perhaps it is best to think of it as unintelligent design?

2011/11/16 The evolving Story of Locale Support, part 9: Nastaleeq vs. Nastaliq? Either way, Windows 8 has got it!

2011/11/15 The evolving Story of Locale Support, part 8: [Finally] taking care of some [more] languages in Pakistan

2011/11/11 The evolving Story of Locale Support, part 7: That would be a "call and a raise" for Hawaiian

2011/11/09 The evolving Story of Locale Support, part 6: Behind the Cherokee Phonetic layout in Windows 8

2011/11/08 The evolving Story of Locale Support, part 5 (...until the decision was made to not refuse to add it)

2011/11/04 The evolving Story of Locale Support, part 4 (working beyond one's bugs, and the case for an MSKLC update)

2011/11/03 The evolving Story of Locale Support, part 3 (working beyond one's bugs, the setup)

2011/11/02 The evolving Story of Locale Support, part 2 (raising the roof on keyboards)

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