Rails Date Formats

Handwritten by TVD

For the newly initiated (we all were at some time), getting a handle on date formats in Rails can be confusing. Believe me, I understand. Rails is a lot like Chicago. If you’re not careful, you might forget it’s part of Ruby.

When I talk to developers, the biggest confusion I see comes from forgetting that Rails is built on top of the Ruby programming language. Therefore, what you’re really searching for is Ruby date formatting.

Here is a list of Ruby (and Rails) date formats:

%a - The abbreviated weekday name (''Sun'')
%A - The full weekday name (''Sunday'')
%b - The abbreviated month name (''Jan'')
%B - The full month name (''January'')
%c - The preferred local date and time representation
%d - Day of the month (01..31)
%H - Hour of the day, 24-hour clock (00..23)
%I - Hour of the day, 12-hour clock (01..12)
%j - Day of the year (001..366)
%m - Month of the year (01..12)
%M - Minute of the hour (00..59)
%p - Meridian indicator (''AM'' or ''PM'')
%S - Second of the minute (00..60)
%U - Week number of the current year,
starting with the first Sunday as the first
day of the first week (00..53)
%W - Week number of the current year,
starting with the first Monday as the first
day of the first week (00..53)
%w - Day of the week (Sunday is 0, 0..6)
%x - Preferred representation for the date alone, no time
%X - Preferred representation for the time alone, no date
%y - Year without a century (00..99)
%Y - Year with century
%Z - Time zone name
%% - Literal ''%'' character

Here is a Ruby (Rails) date format example:

@comment.created_at = Time.Now
@comment.created_at.strftime("%d %b %y") #Output: 05 Jul 10
@comment.created_at.strftime("%m/%d/%Y") #Output: 07/05/2010

If you ever need to display dates as 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, then check out this StackOverflow post on how to Ordinalize your dates in Rails.

Just remember Rails is built on top of Ruby. So, whatever syntactic goodies you can access in Ruby can be accessed in Rails.

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