doc • date

Date & time management

There is a lot of confusion among all users, not only newbies, about how to use the Date datatype correctly in Gambas. This page will try to clear it up.

Dates are not strings

The confusion mainly comes from the fact that you are thinking about dates by using its locale string representation, i.e. as if the Date datatype would represent a locale date. Big mistake!

Internally, Gambas stores a Date value in Universal Time (a.k.a. "UTC"), using two 32 bits integer:

  • The first integer is a number of days since a specific epoch, which is January 1st, 4801 BC. It's the date part.

  • The second integer is a number of milliseconds since midnight. It's the time part.

But there is no way in Gambas to directly write a Date constant. You always has to use either the Date function that builds a date or convert a string representation of the date by using CStr, CDate, Str$ or Val.

Consequently, each time you manipulate a date representation, Gambas has to decide if your date representation is in U.T.C. or in local time. In other words, the timezone associated with a date representation is implicit.

It's a bit like the problem of string charsets: the charset of a string is implicit. It is not stored with the string.

Gambas functions either assume that a date representation is:

  • In U.T.C., using an American date format

  • In local time, i.e. in the timezone specified by the System.TimeZone property, which comes directly from the current system configuration. The date format is the local date format.

The timezone depends on what is configured in your system. The date format depends on the current language specified by the System.Language property.

Here is the list of date-related functions, and if they deal with U.T.C. or local time.

Functions that deal with U.T.C. and American date format

CDate Converts an expression into a date & time value.
CStr Converts a date & time value into a string.

These functions are used by the interpreter when doing implicit datatype conversion.

Functions that deal with local time

Date Returns a date without its time component, or create a date & time value from its components in local time.
DateAdd Adds a period to a given date.
DateDiff Returns the period between two dates.
Day Returns the day of a Date value
Hour Returns the hours of a Date value.
Minute Returns the minutes of a Date value.
Month Returns the month of a Date value.
Second Returns the seconds of a Date value.
Str$ Converts a date & time value into a string.
Time Returns the time part of a Date value, or create a time value from its components.
Val Converts a string into a date & time value, provided that the string represents a date in local date & time format.
Week Returns the week number of a Date value.
WeekDay Returns the week day of a Date value.
Year Returns the year of a Date value.

Implicit conversion

Beware with implicit conversion between dates and strings!

  • PRINT prints a date by using the Str$ method. So the date is printed in local time.

  • All other implicit conversions use the CStr and CDate functions, assuming U.T.C. time.

CStr and CDate intend to be reciprocal. It means that

CStr(CDate(SomeString)) = SomeString


CDate(CStr(SomeDate)) = SomeDate

should always be true.

Dates are numbers

A date & time value is implicitly converted to a floating point number whose integer part is the internal date part (the number of days since January 1st, 4801 BC), and fractional part is the internal time part.

Consequently, you can easily do day arithmetic between dates using the standard + and - operators.

As for the fractional part, you must be careful that you are in U.T.C. time, and that a zero fractional part means midnight in U.T.C. time.

Consequently, if your timezone is not null, CFloat(Date(Now)) will not return an integer!

Null dates and time-only dates

Time-only dates are date & time value where only the date part is zero. In that special case, the timezone is not taken into account. This is useful when you want to do arithmetic with times.

Null dates are date & time values where both date and time parts equal zero. They are equivalent to the NULL constant. Doing arithmetic with null dates raises an error.

Dates in databases

To do.

See also