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TimeHelper

class TimeHelper(View $view, array $settings = array())

The Time Helper does what it says on the tin: saves you time. It allows for the quick processing of time related information. The Time Helper has two main tasks that it can perform:

  1. It can format time strings.
  2. It can test time (but cannot bend time, sorry).

Changed in version 2.1: TimeHelper has been refactored into the CakeTime class to allow easier use outside of the View layer. Within a view, these methods are accessible via the TimeHelper class and you can call it as you would call a normal helper method: $this->Time->method($args);.

Using the Helper

A common use of the Time Helper is to offset the date and time to match a user’s time zone. Lets use a forum as an example. Your forum has many users who may post messages at any time from any part of the world. An easy way to manage the time is to save all dates and times as GMT+0 or UTC. Uncomment the line date_default_timezone_set('UTC'); in app/Config/core.php to ensure your application’s time zone is set to GMT+0.

Next add a time zone field to your users table and make the necessary modifications to allow your users to set their time zone. Now that we know the time zone of the logged in user we can correct the date and time on our posts using the Time Helper:

echo $this->Time->format(
  'F jS, Y h:i A',
  $post['Post']['created'],
  null,
  $user['User']['time_zone']
);
// Will display August 22nd, 2011 11:53 PM for a user in GMT+0
// August 22nd, 2011 03:53 PM for a user in GMT-8
// and August 23rd, 2011 09:53 AM GMT+10

Most of the Time Helper methods have a $timezone parameter. The $timezone parameter accepts a valid timezone identifier string or an instance of DateTimeZone class.

Formatting

TimeHelper::convert($serverTime, $timezone = NULL)
Return type:integer

Converts given time (in server’s time zone) to user’s local time, given his/her timezone.

// called via TimeHelper
echo $this->Time->convert(time(), 'Asia/Jakarta');
// 1321038036

// called as CakeTime
App::uses('CakeTime', 'Utility');
echo CakeTime::convert(time(), new DateTimeZone('Asia/Jakarta'));

Changed in version 2.2: $timezone parameter replaces $userOffset parameter used in 2.1 and below.

TimeHelper::convertSpecifiers($format, $time = NULL)
Return type:string

Converts a string representing the format for the function strftime and returns a windows safe and i18n aware format.

TimeHelper::dayAsSql($dateString, $field_name, $timezone = NULL)
Return type:string

Creates a string in the same format as daysAsSql but only needs a single date object:

// called via TimeHelper
echo $this->Time->dayAsSql('Aug 22, 2011', 'modified');
// (modified >= '2011-08-22 00:00:00') AND
// (modified <= '2011-08-22 23:59:59')

// called as CakeTime
App::uses('CakeTime', 'Utility');
echo CakeTime::dayAsSql('Aug 22, 2011', 'modified');

Changed in version 2.2: $timezone parameter replaces $userOffset parameter used in 2.1 and below.

New in version 2.2: $dateString parameter now also accepts a DateTime object.

TimeHelper::daysAsSql($begin, $end, $fieldName, $timezone = NULL)
Return type:string

Returns a string in the format “($field_name >= ‘2008-01-21 00:00:00’) AND ($field_name <= ‘2008-01-25 23:59:59’)”. This is handy if you need to search for records between two dates inclusively:

// called via TimeHelper
echo $this->Time->daysAsSql('Aug 22, 2011', 'Aug 25, 2011', 'created');
// (created >= '2011-08-22 00:00:00') AND
// (created <= '2011-08-25 23:59:59')

// called as CakeTime
App::uses('CakeTime', 'Utility');
echo CakeTime::daysAsSql('Aug 22, 2011', 'Aug 25, 2011', 'created');

Changed in version 2.2: $timezone parameter replaces $userOffset parameter used in 2.1 and below.

New in version 2.2: $dateString parameter now also accepts a DateTime object.

TimeHelper::format($date, $format = NULL, $default = false, $timezone = NULL)
Return type:string

Will return a string formatted to the given format using the PHP strftime() formatting options:

// called via TimeHelper
echo $this->Time->format('2011-08-22 11:53:00', '%B %e, %Y %H:%M %p');
// August 22, 2011 11:53 AM

echo $this->Time->format('+2 days', '%c');
// 2 days from now formatted as Sun, 13 Nov 2011 03:36:10 AM EET

// called as CakeTime
App::uses('CakeTime', 'Utility');
echo CakeTime::format('2011-08-22 11:53:00', '%B %e, %Y %H:%M %p');
echo CakeTime::format('+2 days', '%c');

You can also provide the date/time as the first argument. When doing this you should use strftime compatible formatting. This call signature allows you to leverage locale aware date formatting which is not possible using date() compatible formatting:

// called via TimeHelper
echo $this->Time->format('2012-01-13', '%d-%m-%Y', 'invalid');

// called as CakeTime
App::uses('CakeTime', 'Utility');
echo CakeTime::format('2011-08-22', '%d-%m-%Y');

Changed in version 2.2: $format and $date parameters are in opposite order as used in 2.1 and below. $timezone parameter replaces $userOffset parameter used in 2.1 and below. $default parameter replaces $invalid parameter used in 2.1 and below.

New in version 2.2: $date parameter now also accepts a DateTime object.

TimeHelper::fromString($dateString, $timezone = NULL)
Return type:string

Takes a string and uses strtotime to convert it into a date integer:

// called via TimeHelper
echo $this->Time->fromString('Aug 22, 2011');
// 1313971200

echo $this->Time->fromString('+1 days');
// 1321074066 (+1 day from current date)

// called as CakeTime
App::uses('CakeTime', 'Utility');
echo CakeTime::fromString('Aug 22, 2011');
echo CakeTime::fromString('+1 days');

Changed in version 2.2: $timezone parameter replaces $userOffset parameter used in 2.1 and below.

New in version 2.2: $dateString parameter now also accepts a DateTime object.

TimeHelper::gmt($dateString = NULL)
Return type:integer

Will return the date as an integer set to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).

// called via TimeHelper
echo $this->Time->gmt('Aug 22, 2011');
// 1313971200

// called as CakeTime
App::uses('CakeTime', 'Utility');
echo CakeTime::gmt('Aug 22, 2011');
TimeHelper::i18nFormat($date, $format = NULL, $invalid = false, $timezone = NULL)
Return type:string

Returns a formatted date string, given either a UNIX timestamp or a valid strtotime() date string. It take in account the default date format for the current language if a LC_TIME file is used. For more info about LC_TIME file check here.

Changed in version 2.2: $timezone parameter replaces $userOffset parameter used in 2.1 and below.

TimeHelper::nice($dateString = NULL, $timezone = NULL, $format = null)
Return type:string

Takes a date string and outputs it in the format “Tue, Jan 1st 2008, 19:25” or as per optional $format param passed:

// called via TimeHelper
echo $this->Time->nice('2011-08-22 11:53:00');
// Mon, Aug 22nd 2011, 11:53

// called as CakeTime
App::uses('CakeTime', 'Utility');
echo CakeTime::nice('2011-08-22 11:53:00');
TimeHelper::niceShort($dateString = NULL, $timezone = NULL)
Return type:string

Takes a date string and outputs it in the format “Jan 1st 2008, 19:25”. If the date object is today, the format will be “Today, 19:25”. If the date object is yesterday, the format will be “Yesterday, 19:25”:

// called via TimeHelper
echo $this->Time->niceShort('2011-08-22 11:53:00');
// Aug 22nd, 11:53

// called as CakeTime
App::uses('CakeTime', 'Utility');
echo CakeTime::niceShort('2011-08-22 11:53:00');

Changed in version 2.2: $timezone parameter replaces $userOffset parameter used in 2.1 and below.

New in version 2.2: $dateString parameter now also accepts a DateTime object.

TimeHelper::serverOffset()
Return type:integer

Returns server’s offset from GMT in seconds.

TimeHelper::timeAgoInWords($dateString, $options = array())
Return type:string

Will take a datetime string (anything that is parsable by PHP’s strtotime() function or MySQL’s datetime format) and convert it into a friendly word format like, “3 weeks, 3 days ago”:

// called via TimeHelper
echo $this->Time->timeAgoInWords('Aug 22, 2011');
// on 22/8/11

// on August 22nd, 2011
echo $this->Time->timeAgoInWords(
    'Aug 22, 2011',
    array('format' => 'F jS, Y')
);

// called as CakeTime
App::uses('CakeTime', 'Utility');
echo CakeTime::timeAgoInWords('Aug 22, 2011');
echo CakeTime::timeAgoInWords(
    'Aug 22, 2011',
    array('format' => 'F jS, Y')
);

Use the ‘end’ option to determine the cutoff point to no longer will use words; default ‘+1 month’:

// called via TimeHelper
echo $this->Time->timeAgoInWords(
    'Aug 22, 2011',
    array('format' => 'F jS, Y', 'end' => '+1 year')
);
// On Nov 10th, 2011 it would display: 2 months, 2 weeks, 6 days ago

// called as CakeTime
App::uses('CakeTime', 'Utility');
echo CakeTime::timeAgoInWords(
    'Aug 22, 2011',
    array('format' => 'F jS, Y', 'end' => '+1 year')
);

Use the ‘accuracy’ option to determine how precise the output should be. You can use this to limit the output:

// If $timestamp is 1 month, 1 week, 5 days and 6 hours ago
echo CakeTime::timeAgoInWords($timestamp, array(
    'accuracy' => array('month' => 'month'),
    'end' => '1 year'
));
// Outputs '1 month ago'

Changed in version 2.2: The accuracy option was added.

New in version 2.2: $dateString parameter now also accepts a DateTime object.

TimeHelper::toAtom($dateString, $timezone = NULL)
Return type:string

Will return a date string in the Atom format “2008-01-12T00:00:00Z”

Changed in version 2.2: $timezone parameter replaces $userOffset parameter used in 2.1 and below.

New in version 2.2: $dateString parameter now also accepts a DateTime object.

TimeHelper::toQuarter($dateString, $range = false)
Return type:mixed

Will return 1, 2, 3 or 4 depending on what quarter of the year the date falls in. If range is set to true, a two element array will be returned with start and end dates in the format “2008-03-31”:

// called via TimeHelper
echo $this->Time->toQuarter('Aug 22, 2011');
// Would print 3

$arr = $this->Time->toQuarter('Aug 22, 2011', true);
/*
Array
(
    [0] => 2011-07-01
    [1] => 2011-09-30
)
*/

// called as CakeTime
App::uses('CakeTime', 'Utility');
echo CakeTime::toQuarter('Aug 22, 2011');
$arr = CakeTime::toQuarter('Aug 22, 2011', true);

New in version 2.2: $dateString parameter now also accepts a DateTime object.

New in version 2.4: The new option parameters relativeString (defaults to %s ago) and absoluteString (defaults to on %s) to allow customization of the resulting output string are now available.

TimeHelper::toRSS($dateString, $timezone = NULL)
Return type:string

Will return a date string in the RSS format “Sat, 12 Jan 2008 00:00:00 -0500”

Changed in version 2.2: $timezone parameter replaces $userOffset parameter used in 2.1 and below.

New in version 2.2: $dateString parameter now also accepts a DateTime object.

TimeHelper::toUnix($dateString, $timezone = NULL)
Return type:integer

A wrapper for fromString.

Changed in version 2.2: $timezone parameter replaces $userOffset parameter used in 2.1 and below.

New in version 2.2: $dateString parameter now also accepts a DateTime object.

TimeHelper::toServer($dateString, $timezone = NULL, $format = 'Y-m-d H:i:s')
Return type:mixed

New in version 2.2: Returns a formatted date in server’s timezone.

TimeHelper::timezone($timezone = NULL)
Return type:DateTimeZone

New in version 2.2: Returns a timezone object from a string or the user’s timezone object. If the function is called without a parameter it tries to get timezone from ‘Config.timezone’ configuration variable.

TimeHelper::listTimezones($filter = null, $country = null, $group = true)
Return type:array

New in version 2.2: Returns a list of timezone identifiers.

Testing Time

TimeHelper::isToday($dateString, $timezone = NULL)
TimeHelper::isThisWeek($dateString, $timezone = NULL)
TimeHelper::isThisMonth($dateString, $timezone = NULL)
TimeHelper::isThisYear($dateString, $timezone = NULL)
TimeHelper::wasYesterday($dateString, $timezone = NULL)
TimeHelper::isTomorrow($dateString, $timezone = NULL)
TimeHelper::isFuture($dateString, $timezone = NULL)

New in version 2.4.

TimeHelper::isPast($dateString, $timezone = NULL)

New in version 2.4.

TimeHelper::wasWithinLast($timeInterval, $dateString, $timezone = NULL)

Changed in version 2.2: $timezone parameter replaces $userOffset parameter used in 2.1 and below.

New in version 2.2: $dateString parameter now also accepts a DateTime object.

All of the above functions return true or false when passed a date string. wasWithinLast takes an additional $timeInterval option:

// called via TimeHelper
$this->Time->wasWithinLast($timeInterval, $dateString);

// called as CakeTime
App::uses('CakeTime', 'Utility');
CakeTime::wasWithinLast($timeInterval, $dateString);

wasWithinLast takes a time interval which is a string in the format “3 months” and accepts a time interval of seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and years (plural and not). If a time interval is not recognized (for example, if it is mistyped) then it will default to days.