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Timezones: Is there a better way?

August 18th, 2010 1 note

I designed a schedule form for scheduling meetings a while back. It contains a fairly standard date & time entry form. We derive the user’s timezone in the background, and display it to invitees.

In the next iteration, we decided to add timezone support, so I could schedule a meeting for 3:30 Eastern time, even if I’m currently in Pacific time, allowing me to be sure the meeting will happen at the right time without making me do math or be confused.

I designed a nice little dropdown to choose a different timezone in a limited space between the time and the right edge of the form.

When the developers implemented this, they grabbed a standard list of timezones and plopped it in.

This is where the nightmare began.

The standard list of timezones is a ridiculous list of 366 possible combinations of I don’t even know what, and don’t really care. All I know is nobody wants to pick through this list, and it made my dropdown so huge it wouldn’t fit in the space allotted for it.

A search for a more streamlined standard list that people could still use came up pretty much empty. This is ridiculous.

So I turned to Twitter, and got a nicer list from a developer friend, then edited that list to my preferences. Here’s what I came up with:

Apia, Samoa (GMT -11)
Honolulu (GMT -10)
Anchorage (GMT -9)
Pacific time (GMT -8)
Mountain time (GMT -7)
Central time (GMT -6)
Eastern time (GMT -5)
Venezuela (GMT -4:30)
Santiago (GMT -4)
Sao Paulo (GMT -3)
South Georgia (GMT -2)
Cape Verde (GMT -1)
London (GMT)
Paris (GMT +1)
Cairo (GMT +2)
Moscow (GMT +3)
Tehran, Iran (GMT +3:30)
Dubai (GMT +4)
Kabul (GMT +4:30)
Karachi (GMT +5)
Mumbai (GMT +5:30)
Kathmandu (GMT +5:45)
Dhaka (GMT +6)
Burma (GMT +6:30)
Indonesia (GMT +7)
Philippines (GMT +8)
Tokyo (GMT +9)
Adelaide (GMT +9:30)
Sydney (GMT +10)
Noumea (GMT +11)
Auckland (GMT +12)
Nuku’alofa (GMT +13)
Kiritimati (GMT +14)

If someone out there knows of a better, more official, but not ridiculously long, timezone list, that makes sense to the people that live and work in these time zones, please let me know.

photo of Sarah A blog full of thoughts and observations on making the web a better place, collected by Sarah Harrison.

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