What day does the week start?
By WillYum. Thursday, January 19, 2012 12:08:37 AM
I'm really excited about the new HTML5 Form Elements. Especially the new "date" input type: <input type="date">
Unfortunately, the "date picker" (the calendar popup that displays when selecting a date) is just a little too Euro-centric. Opera appears to have implemented the ISO 8601:2004 ($238.00!) standard that the "always reliable" Wikipedia claims is common in Europe**.
What does that mean? The week starts on Monday.
This site has an example graphic.
Unfortunately, weeks in the United States (I can't speak for you Canadians or Mexicans) start with a Sunday ("business week" starts on Monday). A few random unimportant like examples might be in order:
- US Internal Revenue Service (Taxes.... ugh)
- President of the United States
- United States Supreme Court
- US House of Representatives (PDF)
- National Geodetic Survey Global Positioning System Calendar, NASA, NPS, National Archives (PDF)
- MIT, Berkeley, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, Cal Tech.
- Most US Army, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard, Marine, National Guard calendars I could find.
(okay, perhaps I've belabored it a bit)
Perhaps weeks starting with Monday are way better implementation? Perhaps they provide some unforeseen benefit but so-far as I can tell there's no profound improvement.
Now at this point, I should properly point out that I'd fully support the United States moving to the metric system of measurement but poor implementation in the past has been a major stumbling block (that and tools). There is a strong American sentiment for the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." For the vast majority of applications for every-day users the old-fashioned way of doing things works well.
There is no compelling reason for them to switch (ease-of-use is hardly compelling when compared with the "hard-to-use hump").
In this case there are real issues with the spatial arrangement of the days of the week. An analogy would be if you're used to looking at a certain map North is always at the top then you might not immediately notice a change in such an arrangement. Getting lost sucks.
I routinely ignore the day-labels when doing "not today" operations with calendars -- such as "Oh, I need to do this next Friday," or "I worked on that project last Wednesday." In those situations, I don't know the date (nor is "today" marked on the calendar) so I merely mark the 'proper' position for a day.
So what does this all mean?
It means there is real risk for error in using an unfamiliar layout of something they feel they should be familiar with. In this particular instance I haven't been able to find any way of specifying how that date-picker widget works or styling it for "localization."
Thoughts, ideas, questions?
* Added example of the input type-date syntax and link for clarity.
** Markus Kuhn's discussion on 8601 standard includes notes on the "week" - starting with the paragraph "In commercial and industrial applications" that also confirms common usage in Europe.