Java LanguageDate Class

Syntax

  • Date object = new Date();
  • Date object = new Date(long date);

Parameters

ParameterExplanation
No parameterCreates a new Date object using the allocation time (to the nearest millisecond)
long dateCreates a new Date object with the time set to the number of milliseconds since "the epoch" (January 1, 1970, 00:00:00 GMT)

Remarks

Representation

Internally, a Java Date object is represented as a long; it is the number of milliseconds since a specific time (referred to as the epoch). The original Java Date class had methods for dealing with time zones, etc., but these were deprecated in favor of the then-new Calendar class.

So if all you want to do in your code is represent a specific time, you can create a Date class and store it, etc. If you want to print out a human-readable version of that date, however, you create a Calendar class and use its formatting to produce hours, minutes, seconds, days, time zones, etc. Keep in mind that a specific millisecond is displayed as different hours in different time zones; normally you want to display one in the "local" time zone, but the formatting methods have to take into account that you may want to display it for some other one.

Also be aware that the clocks used by JVMs do not usually have millisecond accuracy; the clock might only "tick" every 10 milliseconds, and therefore, if timing things, you cannot rely on measuring things accurately at that level.

Import Statement

import java.util.Date;

The Date class may be imported from java.util package.

Caution

Date instances are mutable, so using them can make it difficult to write thread-safe code or can accidentally provide write access to internal state. For example, in the below class, the getDate() method allows the caller to modify the transaction date:

public final class Transaction {
  private final Date date;

  public Date getTransactionDate() {
    return date;
  }
}

The solution is to either return a copy of the date field or use the new APIs in java.time introduced in Java 8.

Most of the constructor methods in the Date class have been deprecated and should not be used. In almost all cases, it is advisable to use Calendar class for date operations.

Java 8

Java 8 introduces new time and date API in the package java.time, including LocalDate and LocalTime. The classes in the java.time package provide an overhauled API that is easier to use. If you are writing to Java 8 it is strongly encouraged that you use this new API. See Dates and Time (java.time.*) .

Creating Date objects

Date date = new Date();
System.out.println(date); // Thu Feb 25 05:03:59 IST 2016

Here this Date object contains the current date and time when this object was created.

Calendar calendar = Calendar.getInstance();
calendar.set(90, Calendar.DECEMBER, 11);
Date myBirthDate = calendar.getTime();
System.out.println(myBirthDate); // Mon Dec 31 00:00:00 IST 1990

Date objects are best created through a Calendar instance since the use of the data constructors is deprecated and discouraged. To do se we need to get an instance of the Calendar class from the factory method. Then we can set year, month and day of month by using numbers or in case of months constants provided py the Calendar class to improve readability and reduce errors.

calendar.set(90, Calendar.DECEMBER, 11, 8, 32, 35);
Date myBirthDatenTime = calendar.getTime();
System.out.println(myBirthDatenTime); // Mon Dec 31 08:32:35 IST 1990

Along with date, we can also pass time in the order of hour, minutes and seconds.

Comparing Date objects

Calendar, Date, and LocalDate

Java SE 8

before, after, compareTo and equals methods

//Use of Calendar and Date objects    
final Date today = new Date();
final Calendar calendar = Calendar.getInstance();
calendar.set(1990, Calendar.NOVEMBER, 1, 0, 0, 0);
Date birthdate = calendar.getTime();

final Calendar calendar2 = Calendar.getInstance();
calendar2.set(1990, Calendar.NOVEMBER, 1, 0, 0, 0);
Date samebirthdate = calendar2.getTime();

//Before example
System.out.printf("Is %1$tF before %2$tF? %3$b%n", today, birthdate, Boolean.valueOf(today.before(birthdate)));
System.out.printf("Is %1$tF before %1$tF? %3$b%n", today, today, Boolean.valueOf(today.before(today)));
System.out.printf("Is %2$tF before %1$tF? %3$b%n", today, birthdate, Boolean.valueOf(birthdate.before(today)));

//After example
System.out.printf("Is %1$tF after %2$tF? %3$b%n", today, birthdate, Boolean.valueOf(today.after(birthdate)));
System.out.printf("Is %1$tF after %1$tF? %3$b%n", today, birthdate, Boolean.valueOf(today.after(today)));
System.out.printf("Is %2$tF after %1$tF? %3$b%n", today, birthdate, Boolean.valueOf(birthdate.after(today)));

//Compare example
System.out.printf("Compare %1$tF to %2$tF: %3$d%n", today, birthdate, Integer.valueOf(today.compareTo(birthdate)));
System.out.printf("Compare %1$tF to %1$tF: %3$d%n", today, birthdate, Integer.valueOf(today.compareTo(today)));
System.out.printf("Compare %2$tF to %1$tF: %3$d%n", today, birthdate, Integer.valueOf(birthdate.compareTo(today)));

//Equal example
System.out.printf("Is %1$tF equal to %2$tF? %3$b%n", today, birthdate, Boolean.valueOf(today.equals(birthdate)));
System.out.printf("Is %1$tF equal to %2$tF? %3$b%n", birthdate, samebirthdate,
            Boolean.valueOf(birthdate.equals(samebirthdate)));
System.out.printf(
            "Because birthdate.getTime() -> %1$d is different from samebirthdate.getTime() -> %2$d, there are millisecondes!%n",
            Long.valueOf(birthdate.getTime()), Long.valueOf(samebirthdate.getTime()));

//Clear ms from calendars
calendar.clear(Calendar.MILLISECOND);
calendar2.clear(Calendar.MILLISECOND);
birthdate = calendar.getTime();
samebirthdate = calendar2.getTime();

System.out.printf("Is %1$tF equal to %2$tF after clearing ms? %3$b%n", birthdate, samebirthdate,
            Boolean.valueOf(birthdate.equals(samebirthdate)));
Java SE 8

isBefore, isAfter, compareTo and equals methods

//Use of LocalDate
final LocalDate now = LocalDate.now();
final LocalDate birthdate2 = LocalDate.of(2012, 6, 30);
final LocalDate birthdate3 = LocalDate.of(2012, 6, 30);

//Hours, minutes, second and nanoOfsecond can also be configured with an other class LocalDateTime
//LocalDateTime.of(year, month, dayOfMonth, hour, minute, second, nanoOfSecond);

//isBefore example
System.out.printf("Is %1$tF before %2$tF? %3$b%n", now, birthdate2, Boolean.valueOf(now.isBefore(birthdate2)));
System.out.printf("Is %1$tF before %1$tF? %3$b%n", now, birthdate2, Boolean.valueOf(now.isBefore(now)));
System.out.printf("Is %2$tF before %1$tF? %3$b%n", now, birthdate2, Boolean.valueOf(birthdate2.isBefore(now)));

//isAfter example
System.out.printf("Is %1$tF after %2$tF? %3$b%n", now, birthdate2, Boolean.valueOf(now.isAfter(birthdate2)));
System.out.printf("Is %1$tF after %1$tF? %3$b%n", now, birthdate2, Boolean.valueOf(now.isAfter(now)));
System.out.printf("Is %2$tF after %1$tF? %3$b%n", now, birthdate2, Boolean.valueOf(birthdate2.isAfter(now)));

//compareTo example
System.out.printf("Compare %1$tF to %2$tF %3$d%n", now, birthdate2, Integer.valueOf(now.compareTo(birthdate2)));
System.out.printf("Compare %1$tF to %1$tF %3$d%n", now, birthdate2, Integer.valueOf(now.compareTo(now)));
System.out.printf("Compare %2$tF to %1$tF %3$d%n", now, birthdate2, Integer.valueOf(birthdate2.compareTo(now)));

//equals example
System.out.printf("Is %1$tF equal to %2$tF? %3$b%n", now, birthdate2, Boolean.valueOf(now.equals(birthdate2)));
System.out.printf("Is %1$tF to %2$tF? %3$b%n", birthdate2, birthdate3, Boolean.valueOf(birthdate2.equals(birthdate3)));

//isEqual example
System.out.printf("Is %1$tF equal to %2$tF? %3$b%n", now, birthdate2, Boolean.valueOf(now.isEqual(birthdate2)));
System.out.printf("Is %1$tF to %2$tF? %3$b%n", birthdate2, birthdate3, Boolean.valueOf(birthdate2.isEqual(birthdate3)));

Date comparison before Java 8

Before Java 8, dates could be compared using java.util.Calendar and java.util.Date classes. Date class offers 4 methods to compare dates :

after, before, compareTo and equals methods compare the values returned by getTime() method for each date.

compareTo method returns positive integer.

  • Value greater than 0 : when the Date is after the Date argument
  • Value greater than 0 : when the Date is before the Date argument
  • Value equals to 0 : when the Date is equal to the Date argument

equals results can be surprising as shown in the example because values, like milliseconds, are not initialize with the same value if not explicitly given.

Since Java 8

With Java 8 a new Object to work with Date is available java.time.LocalDate. LocalDate implements ChronoLocalDate, the abstract representation of a date where the Chronology, or calendar system, is pluggable.

To have the date time precision the Object java.time.LocalDateTime has to be used. LocalDate and LocalDateTime use the same methods name for comparing.

Comparing dates using a LocalDate is different from using ChronoLocalDate because the chronology, or calendar system are not taken in account the first one.

Because most application should use LocalDate, ChronoLocalDate is not included in examples. Further reading here.

Most applications should declare method signatures, fields and variables as LocalDate, not this[ChronoLocalDate] interface.

LocalDate has 5 methods to compare dates :

In case of LocalDate parameter, isAfter, isBefore, isEqual, equals and compareTo now use this method:

int compareTo0(LocalDate otherDate) {
    int cmp = (year - otherDate.year);
    if (cmp == 0) {
        cmp = (month - otherDate.month);
        if (cmp == 0) {
            cmp = (day - otherDate.day);
        }
    }
    return cmp;
}

equals method check if the parameter reference equals the date first whereas isEqual directly calls compareTo0.

In case of an other class instance of ChronoLocalDate the dates are compared using the Epoch Day. The Epoch Day count is a simple incrementing count of days where day 0 is 1970-01-01 (ISO).

Converting Date to a certain String format

format() from SimpleDateFormat class helps to convert a Date object into certain format String object by using the supplied pattern string.

Date today = new Date();
    
SimpleDateFormat dateFormat = new SimpleDateFormat("dd-MMM-yy"); //pattern is specified here
System.out.println(dateFormat.format(today)); //25-Feb-16 

Patterns can be applied again by using applyPattern()

dateFormat.applyPattern("dd-MM-yyyy");
System.out.println(dateFormat.format(today)); //25-02-2016

dateFormat.applyPattern("dd-MM-yyyy HH:mm:ss E");
System.out.println(dateFormat.format(today)); //25-02-2016 06:14:33 Thu

Note: Here mm (small letter m) denotes minutes and MM (capital M) denotes month. Pay careful attention when formatting years: capital "Y" (Y) indicates the "week in the year" while lower-case "y" (y) indicates the year.

Converting String into Date

parse() from SimpleDateFormat class helps to convert a String pattern into a Date object.

DateFormat dateFormat = DateFormat.getDateInstance(DateFormat.SHORT, Locale.US);
String dateStr = "02/25/2016"; // input String
Date date = dateFormat.parse(dateStr);
System.out.println(date.getYear()); // 116

There are 4 different styles for the text format, SHORT, MEDIUM (this is the default), LONG and FULL, all of which depend on the locale. If no locale is specified, the system default locale is used.

StyleLocale.USLocale.France
SHORT6/30/0930/06/09
MEDIUMJun 30, 200930 juin 2009
LONGJune 30, 200930 juin 2009
FULLTuesday, June 30, 2009mardi 30 juin 2009

A basic date output

Using the following code with the format string yyyy/MM/dd hh:mm.ss, we will receive the following output

2016/04/19 11:45.36

// define the format to use
String formatString = "yyyy/MM/dd hh:mm.ss";

// get a current date object
Date date = Calendar.getInstance().getTime();

// create the formatter
SimpleDateFormat simpleDateFormat = new SimpleDateFormat(formatString);

// format the date
String formattedDate = simpleDateFormat.format(date);

// print it
System.out.println(formattedDate);


// single-line version of all above code
System.out.println(new SimpleDateFormat("yyyy/MM/dd hh:mm.ss").format(Calendar.getInstance().getTime()));

Convert formatted string representation of date to Date object

This method can be used to convert a formatted string representation of a date into a Date object.

    /**
     * Parses the date using the given format.
     *
     * @param formattedDate the formatted date string
     * @param dateFormat the date format which was used to create the string.
     * @return the date
     */
    public static Date parseDate(String formattedDate, String dateFormat) {
        Date date = null;
        SimpleDateFormat objDf = new SimpleDateFormat(dateFormat);
        try {
          date = objDf.parse(formattedDate);
        } catch (ParseException e) {
          // Do what ever needs to be done with exception.
        }
        return date;
    }

Creating a Specific Date

While the Java Date class has several constructors, you'll notice that most are deprecated. The only acceptable way of creating a Date instance directly is either by using the empty constructor or passing in a long (number of milliseconds since standard base time). Neither are handy unless you're looking for the current date or have another Date instance already in hand.

To create a new date, you will need a Calendar instance. From there you can set the Calendar instance to the date that you need.

Calendar c = Calendar.getInstance();

This returns a new Calendar instance set to the current time. Calendar has many methods for mutating it's date and time or setting it outright. In this case, we'll set it to a specific date.

c.set(1974, 6, 2, 8, 0, 0);
Date d = c.getTime();

The getTime method returns the Date instance that we need. Keep in mind that the Calendar set methods only set one or more fields, they do not set them all. That is, if you set the year, the other fields remain unchanged.

PITFALL

In many cases, this code snippet fulfills its purpose, but keep in mind that two important parts of the date/time are not defined.

  • the (1974, 6, 2, 8, 0, 0) parameters are interpreted within the default timezone, defined somewhere else,
  • the milliseconds are not set to zero, but filled from the system clock at the time the Calendar instance is created.

Java 8 LocalDate and LocalDateTime objects

Date and LocalDate objects cannot be exactly converted between each other since a Date object represents both a specific day and time, while a LocalDate object does not contain time or timezone information. However, it can be useful to convert between the two if you only care about the actual date information and not the time information.

Creates a LocalDate

// Create a default date
LocalDate lDate = LocalDate.now();

// Creates a date from values
lDate = LocalDate.of(2017, 12, 15);
    
// create a date from string
lDate = LocalDate.parse("2017-12-15");

// creates a date from zone
LocalDate.now(ZoneId.systemDefault());

Creates a LocalDateTime

// Create a default date time
LocalDateTime lDateTime = LocalDateTime.now();

// Creates a date time from values
lDateTime = LocalDateTime.of(2017, 12, 15, 11, 30);

// create a date time from string
lDateTime = LocalDateTime.parse("2017-12-05T11:30:30");

// create a date time from zone 
LocalDateTime.now(ZoneId.systemDefault());

LocalDate to Date and vice-versa

Date date = Date.from(Instant.now());
ZoneId defaultZoneId = ZoneId.systemDefault();

// Date to LocalDate
LocalDate localDate = date.toInstant().atZone(defaultZoneId).toLocalDate();

// LocalDate to Date
Date.from(localDate.atStartOfDay(defaultZoneId).toInstant());

LocalDateTime to Date and vice-versa

Date date = Date.from(Instant.now());
ZoneId defaultZoneId = ZoneId.systemDefault();

// Date to LocalDateTime
LocalDateTime localDateTime =  date.toInstant().atZone(defaultZoneId).toLocalDateTime();

// LocalDateTime to Date
Date out = Date.from(localDateTime.atZone(defaultZoneId).toInstant());

Time Zones and java.util.Date

A java.util.Date object does not have a concept of time zone.

  • There is no way to set a timezone for a Date
  • There is no way to change the timezone of a Date object
  • A Date object created with the new Date() default constructor will be initialised with the current time in the system default timezone

However, it is possible to display the date represented by the point in time described by the Date object in a different time zone using e.g. java.text.SimpleDateFormat:

Date date = new Date();
//print default time zone
System.out.println(TimeZone.getDefault().getDisplayName());
SimpleDateFormat sdf = new SimpleDateFormat("yyyy-MM-dd HH:mm:ss"); //note: time zone not in format!
//print date in the original time zone
System.out.println(sdf.format(date));
//current time in London
sdf.setTimeZone(TimeZone.getTimeZone("Europe/London"));
System.out.println(sdf.format(date));

Output:

Central European Time
2016-07-21 22:50:56
2016-07-21 21:50:56

Convert java.util.Date to java.sql.Date

java.util.Date to java.sql.Date conversion is usually necessary when a Date object needs to be written in a database.

java.sql.Date is a wrapper around millisecond value and is used by JDBC to identify an SQL DATE type

In the below example, we use the java.util.Date() constructor, that creates a Date object and initializes it to represent time to the nearest millisecond. This date is used in the convert(java.util.Date utilDate) method to return a java.sql.Date object

Example

public class UtilToSqlConversion {
    
    public static void main(String args[])
    {
        java.util.Date utilDate = new java.util.Date();
        System.out.println("java.util.Date is : " + utilDate);
        java.sql.Date sqlDate = convert(utilDate);
        System.out.println("java.sql.Date is : " + sqlDate);
        DateFormat df = new SimpleDateFormat("dd/MM/YYYY - hh:mm:ss");
        System.out.println("dateFormated date is : " + df.format(utilDate));
    }

    private static java.sql.Date convert(java.util.Date uDate) {
        java.sql.Date sDate = new java.sql.Date(uDate.getTime());
        return sDate;
    }

}

Output

java.util.Date is : Fri Jul 22 14:40:35 IST 2016
java.sql.Date is : 2016-07-22
dateFormated date is : 22/07/2016 - 02:40:35

java.util.Date has both date and time information, whereas java.sql.Date only has date information

LocalTime

To use just the time part of a Date use LocalTime. You can instantiate a LocalTime object in a couple ways

  1. LocalTime time = LocalTime.now();
  2. time = LocalTime.MIDNIGHT;
  3. time = LocalTime.NOON;
  4. time = LocalTime.of(12, 12, 45);

LocalTime also has a built in toString method that displays the format very nicely.

System.out.println(time); 

you can also get, add and subtract hours, minutes, seconds, and nanoseconds from the LocalTime object i.e.

time.plusMinutes(1);
time.getMinutes();
time.minusMinutes(1);

You can turn it into a Date object with the following code:

LocalTime lTime = LocalTime.now();
Instant instant = lTime.atDate(LocalDate.of(A_YEAR, A_MONTH, A_DAY)).
        atZone(ZoneId.systemDefault()).toInstant();
Date time = Date.from(instant);

this class works very nicely within a timer class to simulate an alarm clock.