Playing with Dates in Magento

December 11, 2011  |  4 Comments  |  by Raj (MagePsycho)  |  Latest, Magento, PHP


Being a PHP developer, you are no way hiding yourself from PHP’s date() function.
In case of Magento, it makes use of timezone which is configured from the backend (System > Configuration > General > Locale Options > Timezone) for formatting/displaying date/time.
And this makes the results obtained with the php’s date() function and the Magento’s one a bit different.
For example:
Normal PHP Way

$currentTimestamp = time();
echo $date = date('Y-m-d', $currentTimestamp); //2011-12-11 (current date of the server)

Magento Way

$currentTimestamp = Mage::getModel('core/date')->timestamp(time()); //Magento's timestamp function makes a usage of timezone and converts it to timestamp
echo $date = date('Y-m-d', $currentTimestamp); //The value may differ than above because of the timezone settings.

Since Magento is meant to be for multi-website / multi-lingual / multi-locale purpose, it’s always a good practice to format the date using Magento’s date/time function.
AFAIK, there is no need for conversion of date/time while inserting into the database. The formatting/conversion thing is only done at the frontend level for displaying purposes.

Some Useful Examples

1. Displaying current date

$currentTimestamp = Mage::getModel('core/date')->timestamp(time());
echo $currentDate = date('Y-m-d', $currentTimestamp);


echo $currentDate = Mage::getModel('core/date')->date('Y-m-d');

2. Formatting any date in any format

$anyDate = '2011-12-11';
$dateTimestamp = Mage::getModel('core/date')->timestamp(strtotime($anyDate));
echo $currentDate = date('d.m.Y', $dateTimestamp);


$anyDate = '2011-12-11';
echo $currentDate = Mage::getModel('core/date')->date('d.m.Y', strtotime($anyDate));

3. Predefined date formatting

$dateToFormat = '2011-12-11';
Mage::helper('core')->formatDate($dateToFormat, 'medium', false);

Note: Mage_Core_Helper_Data::format() has following arguments

 * Format date using current locale options
 * @param   date|Zend_Date|null $date in GMT timezone
 * @param   string $format (full, long, medium, short)
 * @param   bool $showTime
 * @return  string
public function formatDate($date=null, $format='short', $showTime=false)

Hope this gave some info about Date/Time functionality available in Magento.
Thanks for reading!

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About Raj (MagePsycho)

Raj, the guy behind MagePsycho is a Zend PHP5 Certified Engineer, Magento Certified Developer, Magento Moderator / Freelancer with specialization in web applications (CMS, E-Commerce, ERP etc.). Catch him on: Twitter: @magepsycho Skype: magentopycho
  • oliver montes

    im use

    $yesterday = Mage::app()->getLocale()->date()->sub('2',Zend_Date::DAY_SHORT)->toString(Varien_Date::DATETIME_INTERNAL_FORMAT);


    more info:

    great post thx 🙂

  • Hello,

    I have the following problem: I am making a website for
    ticket sales in Senegal with Magento – the products have special dates
    and you can search them with a calendar function. You click on a day on
    the calendar and then it shows you all events on that day.

    here`s the problem: It does only work in Browsers that use english
    language. In any other browser language I get the error message:
    “Specified date is invalid.”

    Does anybody know what do I have to do so it works with all other Browser languages, too?

    Thank you in advance,

    • madalinoprea

      I assume you’re using Zend_Date and it has a ‘nice’ feature that uses browser’s Accept-Language header to initialise date format.

      So if someone has his browser’s locale set to fr/fr it will try to use parse submitted date string as dd/MM/yy not as MM/dd/yy as you would expect.

      • Hello there, thank you very much for your help. Somehow we managed to solve that problem.