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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).


fromString( $date_string )

fromString takes a string and uses strtotime to convert it into a date object. If the string passed in is a number then it’ll convert it into an integer, being the number of seconds since the Unix Epoch (January 1 1970 00:00:00 GMT). Passing in a string of “20081231” will create undesired results as it will covert it to the number of seconds from the Epoch, in this case “Fri, Aug 21st 1970, 06:07”

toQuarter( $date_string, $range = false )

toQuarterwill 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”.

toUnix( $date_string )

toUnix is a wrapper for fromString.

toAtom( $date_string )

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

toRSS( $date_string )

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

nice( $date_string = null )

nice takes a date string and outputs it in the format “Tue, Jan 1st 2008, 19:25”.

niceShort( $date_string = null )

niceShort 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”.

daysAsSql( $begin, $end, $fieldName, $userOffset = NULL )

daysAsSql 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.

dayAsSql( $date_string,  $field_name )

dayAsSql creates a string in the same format as daysAsSql but only needs a single date object.

timeAgoInWords( $datetime_string, $options = array(), $backwards = null )

timeAgoInWords 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”. Passing in true for $backwards will specifically declare the time is set in the future, which uses the format “on 31/12/08”.

Option Description
format a date format; default “on 31/12/08”
end determines the cutoff point in which it no longer uses words and uses the date format instead; default “+1 month”

relativeTime( $date_string, $format = 'j/n/y' )

relativeTime is essentially an alias for timeAgoInWords.

gmt( $date_string = null )

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

format( $format = 'd-m-Y', $date_string)

format is a wrapper for the PHP date function.

Format Sample Output
nice Tue, Jan 1st 2008, 19:25
Jan 1st 2008, 19:25
Today, 19:25 Yesterday, 19:25
daysAsSql ($field_name >= ‘2008-01-21 00:00:00’) AND ($field_name <= ‘2008-01-25 23:59:59’)
dayAsSql ($field_name >= ‘2008-01-21 00:00:00’) AND ($field_name <= ‘2008-01-21 23:59:59’)
on 21/01/08
3 months, 3 weeks, 2 days ago 7 minutes ago 2 seconds ago
gmt 1200787200

Testing Time

  • isToday
  • isThisWeek
  • isThisMonth
  • isThisYear
  • wasYesterday
  • isTomorrow
  • wasWithinLast

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

$this->Time->wasWithinLast( $time_interval, $date_string )

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.