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Date and Time Functions in Php

Have you wanted to dynamically output the date or the current time on your webpage? Well now you can. Everytime a visitor loads your page, it can output the current date/time.

date() The Php Date Function

This function returns the current, local date and time, formatted according to your wishes. What you pass into the function is a cryptic-looking string of characters that are actually codes for formatting the date/time.

Without further ado, here are some examples:

Example Code
<?php
    
echo date('l');
?>
Example Output
Friday

Example Code
<?php
    
echo date ('l, F jS Y');
?>
Example Output
Friday, May 26th 2017

Example Code
<?php
    
echo date('l, jS of F');
?>
Example Output
Friday, 26th 2017f May

So what you can do here is pass special characters to the date function, such as 'l' (lowercase L) to print the month as a word, or 'Y' to print the year in 4 digits. You can also pass other chars that have no meaning to add that text to the formatted date, such as 'of' in the last example. To expound on the idea of adding other text, spaces and punctuation to the formatting, there is just one thing to remember. If the text or character that you want to add already has a special meaning (ie, it is one of the codes to format the time/date), you have to 'escape' it so that the char is simply printed out instead us being used to format the date string. To escape a char, you simply put a backslash '\' right before it (without the quotes). Here is an example ( 't' and 'h' both have special meaning for the date function):
Example Code
<?php
    
echo date('l \t\h\e jS');
?>
Example Output
Friday the 26th

List of all the Formatting possiblilities for the date() function

Sort by special formatting char | Group by function
Special formatting characterExplainationExample of what this produces (Using this server's current time and date)
(Fri, 26 May 2017 05:13:20 -0400)
a
Lowercase Ante meridiem or Post meridiem
am
A
Uppercase Ante meridiem or Post meridiem
AM
B
Swatch Internet time (Whatever that is)
425
d
Day of the month in 2 digits with leading zeros
26
D
A three-letter abbreviation for the day
Fri
F
The month, written out.
May
g
12-hour format of the hour without leading zeros
5
G
24-hour format of the hour without leading zeros
5
h
12-hour format of the hour with leading zeros
05
H
24-hour format of the hour with leading zeros
05
i
Minutes with leading zeros
13
I
This is an uppercase i. 1 if we are in Daylight Savings Time, 0 if Standard time.
1
j
Day of the month without leading zeros
26
l
This is a lowercase L. The day of the week, written out
Friday
L
1 if it's a leap year, 0 if it's not.
0
m
Month of the year as a number, with leading zeros
05
M
A three-letter abbreviation for the month
May
n
Month of the year as a number, without leading zeros
5
O
Difference in hours from Greenwich time (GMT) to local time
-0400
r
The current date in the RFC 822 format
Fri, 26 May 2017 05:13:20 -0400
s
Seconds, with leading zeros
20
S
English ordinal suffix for the day of the month, these would be: st, nd, rd or th. It's common to use this along with j formatter
th
jS
Just an example of calling jS together ie: <?php echo date('jS'); ?>
26th
t
Number of days in the given month
31
T
Timezone setting of this computer
EDT
U
Seconds since the Unix Epoch which is January 1 1970 00:00:00 GMT.
1495790000
 
The U is the same as calling the time() function
1495790000
w
The day of the week as a number. Starts at Sunday with 0 and ends with Saturday being a 6
5
W
Week of the year, using the ISO-8601 standard (weeks starting on Monday) (Must have PHP 4.1.0 or higher)
21
Y
The year in 4 digits
2017
y
The year in 2 digits
17
z
The current day of the year
145
Z
Timezone offset in seconds. The offset for timezones west of UTC is always negative, and for those east of UTC is always positive.
-14400

time() The Php Time Function

This function returns the number of seconds since the Unix Epoch which is January 1 1970 00:00:00 GMT. It is the same as calling the date() function with the U formatter.

Example Code
<?php
    
echo date('U');
?>
Example Output
1495790000

Example Code
<?php
    
echo time();
?>
Example Output
1495790000



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