Date & Time

class Cake\I18n\Time

If you need TimeHelper functionalities outside of a View, use the Time class:

use Cake\I18n\Time;

class UsersController extends AppController

    public function initialize()

    public function afterLogin()
        $time = new Time($this->Auth->user('date_of_birth'));
        if ($time->isToday()) {
            // Greet user with a happy birthday message
            $this->Flash->success(__('Happy birthday to you...'));

Under the hood, CakePHP uses Chronos to power its Time utility. Anything you can do with Chronos and DateTime, you can do with Time and Date.


Prior to 3.2.0 CakePHP used Carbon.

For more details on Chronos please see the API documentation.

Creating Time Instances

There are a few ways to create Time instances:

use Cake\I18n\Time;

// Create from a string datetime.
$time = Time::createFromFormat(
    'Y-m-d H:i:s',

// Create from a timestamp
$time = Time::createFromTimestamp($ts);

// Get the current time.
$time = Time::now();

// Or just use 'new'
$time = new Time('2014-01-10 11:11', 'America/New_York');

$time = new Time('2 hours ago');

The Time class constructor can take any parameter that the internal DateTime PHP class can. When passing a number or numeric string, it will be interpreted as a UNIX timestamp.

In test cases you can mock out now() using setTestNow():

// Fixate time.
$now = new Time('2014-04-12 12:22:30');

// Returns '2014-04-12 12:22:30'
$now = Time::now();

// Returns '2014-04-12 12:22:30'
$now = Time::parse('now');


Once created, you can manipulate Time instances using setter methods:

$now = Time::now();

You can also use the methods provided by PHP’s built-in DateTime class:

$now->setDate(2013, 10, 31);

Dates can be modified through subtraction and addition of their components:

$now = Time::now();

// Using strtotime strings.
$now->modify('+5 days');

You can get the internal components of a date by accessing its properties:

$now = Time::now();
echo $now->year; // 2014
echo $now->month; // 5
echo $now->day; // 10
echo $now->timezone; // America/New_York

It is also allowed to directly assign those properties to modify the date:

$time->year = 2015;
$time->timezone = 'Europe/Paris';


static Cake\I18n\Time::setJsonEncodeFormat($format)

This method sets the default format used when converting an object to json:

Time::setJsonEncodeFormat('yyyy-MM-dd HH:mm:ss');  // For any mutable DateTime
FrozenTime::setJsonEncodeFormat('yyyy-MM-dd HH:mm:ss');  // For any immutable DateTime
Date::setJsonEncodeFormat('yyyy-MM-dd HH:mm:ss');  // For any mutable Date
FrozenDate::setJsonEncodeFormat('yyyy-MM-dd HH:mm:ss');  // For any immutable Date


This method must be called statically.

Cake\I18n\Time::i18nFormat($format = null, $timezone = null, $locale = null)

A very common thing to do with Time instances is to print out formatted dates. CakePHP makes this a snap:

$now = Time::parse('2014-10-31');

// Prints a localized datetime stamp.
echo $now;

// Outputs '10/31/14, 12:00 AM' for the en-US locale

// Use the full date and time format

// Use full date but short time format
$now->i18nFormat([\IntlDateFormatter::FULL, \IntlDateFormatter::SHORT]);

// Outputs '2014-10-31 00:00:00'
$now->i18nFormat('yyyy-MM-dd HH:mm:ss');

It is possible to specify the desired format for the string to be displayed. You can either pass IntlDateFormatter constants as the first argument of this function, or pass a full ICU date formatting string as specified in the following resource:

You can also format dates with non-gregorian calendars:

// Outputs 'Friday, Aban 9, 1393 AP at 12:00:00 AM GMT'
$result = $now->i18nFormat(\IntlDateFormatter::FULL, null, 'en-IR@calendar=persian');

The following calendar types are supported:

  • japanese
  • buddhist
  • chinese
  • persian
  • indian
  • islamic
  • hebrew
  • coptic
  • ethiopic

New in version 3.1: Non-gregorian calendar support was added in 3.1


For constant strings i.e. IntlDateFormatter::FULL Intl uses ICU library that feeds its data from CLDR ( which version may vary depending on PHP installation and give different results.


Print out a predefined ‘nice’ format:

$now = Time::parse('2014-10-31');

// Outputs 'Oct 31, 2014 12:00 AM' in en-US
echo $now->nice();

You can alter the timezone in which the date is displayed without altering the Time object itself. This is useful when you store dates in one timezone, but want to display them in a user’s own timezone:

$now->i18nFormat(\IntlDateFormatter::FULL, 'Europe/Paris');

Leaving the first parameter as null will use the default formatting string:

$now->i18nFormat(null, 'Europe/Paris');

Finally, it is possible to use a different locale for displaying a date:

echo $now->i18nFormat(\IntlDateFormatter::FULL, 'Europe/Paris', 'fr-FR');

echo $now->nice('Europe/Paris', 'fr-FR');

Setting the Default Locale and Format String

The default locale in which dates are displayed when using nice i18nFormat is taken from the directive intl.default_locale. You can, however, modify this default at runtime:

Time::setDefaultLocale('es-ES'); // For any mutable DateTime
FrozenTime::setDefaultLocale('es-ES'); // For any immutable DateTime
Date::setDefaultLocale('es-ES'); // For any mutable Date
FrozenDate::setDefaultLocale('es-ES'); // For any immutable Date

From now on, datetimes will be displayed in the Spanish preferred format unless a different locale is specified directly in the formatting method.

Likewise, it is possible to alter the default formatting string to be used for i18nFormat:

Time::setToStringFormat(\IntlDateFormatter::SHORT); // For any mutable DateTime
FrozenTime::setToStringFormat(\IntlDateFormatter::SHORT); // For any immutable DateTime
Date::setToStringFormat(\IntlDateFormatter::SHORT); // For any mutable Date
FrozenDate::setToStringFormat(\IntlDateFormatter::SHORT); // For any immutable Date

// The same method exists on Date, FrozenDate and FrozenTime

// The same method exists on Date, FrozenDate and FrozenTime
Time::setToStringFormat('yyyy-MM-dd HH:mm:ss');

It is recommended to always use the constants instead of directly passing a date format string.

Formatting Relative Times

Cake\I18n\Time::timeAgoInWords(array $options = [])

Often it is useful to print times relative to the present:

$now = new Time('Aug 22, 2011');
echo $now->timeAgoInWords(
    ['format' => 'MMM d, YYY', 'end' => '+1 year']
// On Nov 10th, 2011 this would display: 2 months, 2 weeks, 6 days ago

The end option lets you define at which point after which relative times should be formatted using the format option. The accuracy option lets us control what level of detail should be used for each interval range:

// If $timestamp is 1 month, 1 week, 5 days and 6 hours ago
echo $timestamp->timeAgoInWords([
    'accuracy' => ['month' => 'month'],
    'end' => '1 year'
// Outputs '1 month ago'

By setting accuracy to a string, you can specify what is the maximum level of detail you want output:

$time = new Time('+23 hours');
// Outputs 'in about a day'
$result = $time->timeAgoInWords([
    'accuracy' => 'day'



Once created, you can convert Time instances into timestamps or quarter values:

$time = new Time('2014-06-15');

Comparing With the Present


You can compare a Time instance with the present in a variety of ways:

$time = new Time('2014-06-15');

echo $time->isYesterday();
echo $time->isThisWeek();
echo $time->isThisMonth();
echo $time->isThisYear();

Each of the above methods will return true/false based on whether or not the Time instance matches the present.

Comparing With Intervals


You can see if a Time instance falls within a given range using wasWithinLast() and isWithinNext():

$time = new Time('2014-06-15');

// Within 2 days.
echo $time->isWithinNext(2);

// Within 2 next weeks.
echo $time->isWithinNext('2 weeks');

You can also compare a Time instance within a range in the past:

// Within past 2 days.
echo $time->wasWithinLast(2);

// Within past 2 weeks.
echo $time->wasWithinLast('2 weeks');


New in version 3.2.

The Date class in CakePHP implements the same API and methods as Cake\I18n\Time does. The main difference between Time and Date is that Date does not track time components, and is always in UTC. As an example:

use Cake\I18n\Date;
$date = new Date('2015-06-15');

$date->modify('+2 hours');
// Outputs 2015-06-15 00:00:00
echo $date->format('Y-m-d H:i:s');

$date->modify('+36 hours');
// Outputs 2015-06-15 00:00:00
echo $date->format('Y-m-d H:i:s');

Attempts to modify the timezone on a Date instance are also ignored:

use Cake\I18n\Date;
$date = new Date('2015-06-15');
$date->setTimezone(new \DateTimeZone('America/New_York'));

// Outputs UTC
echo $date->format('e');

Immutable Dates and Times

class Cake\I18n\FrozenTime
class Cake\I18n\FrozenDate

CakePHP offers immutable date and time classes that implement the same interface as their mutable siblings. Immutable objects are useful when you want to prevent accidental changes to data, or when you want to avoid order based dependency issues. Take the following code:

use Cake\I18n\Time;
$time = new Time('2015-06-15 08:23:45');
$time->modify('+2 hours');

// This method also modifies the $time instance

// Output here is unknown.
echo $time->format('Y-m-d H:i:s');

If the method call was re-ordered, or if someOtherFunction changed the output could be unexpected. The mutability of our object creates temporal coupling. If we were to use immutable objects, we could avoid this issue:

use Cake\I18n\FrozenTime;
$time = new FrozenTime('2015-06-15 08:23:45');
$time = $time->modify('+2 hours');

// This method's modifications don't change $time

// Output here is known.
echo $time->format('Y-m-d H:i:s');

Immutable dates and times are useful in entities as they prevent accidental modifications, and force changes to be explicit. Using immutable objects helps the ORM to more easily track changes, and ensure that date and datetime columns are persisted correctly:

// This change will be lost when the article is saved.
$article->updated->modify('+1 hour');

// By replacing the time object the property will be saved.
$article->updated = $article->updated->modify('+1 hour');

Accepting Localized Request Data

When creating text inputs that manipulate dates, you’ll probably want to accept and parse localized datetime strings. See the Parsing Localized Datetime Data.