Generalized time is a form at may be used to represent timestamps, along with time zone information. A generalized time value contains the following components:
- Four digits to signify the year.
- Two digits to signify the month (01 for January, 02 for February, ..., 12 for December).
- Two digits to signify the day of the month (01 through 28/29/30/31 depending on the month and whether it's a leap year).
- Two digits to signify the hour of the day (00 for midnight through 23 for 11 pm).
- An optional two digits that specify the minute of the hour (between 00 and 59).
- An optional two digits that specify the second of the minute (between 00 and 59, or 60 for leap seconds). This may only be included if the timestamp value also contains the minute of the hour.
- An optional period followed by one or more digits that specify the fraction of a second. This may only be included if the timestamp value contains minute and second information.
- A time zone indicator. This may be either the capital letter "Z" to indicate that the value is in the UTC time zone, or a plus or minus sign followed by two or four digits that specify the offset from UTC time zone.
An example of a timestamp in a generalized time format is "20070508200557Z", which specifies a time (in the UTC time zone) of 8:05:57 pm on May 28, 2007. An equivalent value in US central daylight savings time (a five hour offset from UTC) would be 20070508150557-0500".