Digital Communication


Digital Communication

PHP date function: format and display date and time


With the PHP date() function, display date and time dynamically in almost any format of your choice. This can be especially useful if you're looking to indicate release dates, countdowns, or other time-related information.

PHP date function: what is it?

PHP date is a built-in function to format date and time. It returns a string (or String) representing the date and time formatted according to the defined parameters. For example, you can use the date() function if you want to display the current or future date and time on your website. If you use PHP to retrieve information from a MySQL database, the date() function can convert this information into a readable format; this can be very practical for your blog articles or related to current events.

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What does the syntax of the PHP date() function look like?

The structure of the PHP date() function is as follows:

date(format, timestamp);


What parameters are accepted by the PHP date function?

The date() function is composed of a required parameter and an optional parameter.

  • format : PHP date format corresponds to a character string parameter (or String) indicating how the date and time should be formatted;

    • Y : this is the year, written with 4 digits (for example, “2023”);
    • m : this is the month, always written with 2 digits (from “01” to “12”);
    • d : this is the day of the month, always written with two numbers (from “01” to “31”);
    • H : this is the time, in “24 hour” format (from “00” to “23”);
    • i : this is the minute (from “00” to “59”);
    • s : this is the second (from “00” to “59”);
  • timestamp : This is an optional parameter supporting a timestamp as an integer. If you decide to leave this setting aside, the current system time is used.

L'UNIX time (also called “POSIX time”) is a simple integer that counts the number of seconds that have passed since January 1, 1970 at 00:00:00 UTC (Coordinated Universal Time). This timestamp corresponds to a common standard in the field of IT, because it overcomes all time zones and allows simple calculations involving temporal data to be carried out.

To learn more about programming with PHP, we invite you to consult our PHP tutorial. We have also compared the advantages and disadvantages of PHP and Python and PHP and JavaScript for you.


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Application examples of the PHP date() function

The PHP date() function is a powerful tool for formatting dates and times. You can combine it with PHP classes, PHP operators and other PHP functions to take advantage of full features for your web application.

Concatenate date and time

Do not hesitate to use PHP operators, such asconcatenation operatorto combine values ​​related to date and time with other character strings or other variables.

$today = date('Y-m-d'); // année, mois et jour actuels
$message="La date actuelle" . $today;
echo $message;


Generate and customize timestamp

“strtotime()” is one of the PHP functions and allows you to generate a timestamp from a string, so as to designate a specific date or time. The date() function can then be used to format this timestamp.

$dateString = '2023-08-19';
$timestamp = strtotime($dateString);
$formattedDate = date('l, F j, Y', $timestamp);
echo $formattedDate;


You then obtain the following result:

Samedi, 19 août 2023


The PHP DateTime class

The DateTime class corresponds to a object-oriented method which allows you to work with values ​​associated with date and time. Its operation is similar to that of the date() function. Below is an example:

$now = new DateTime();
$formattedDate = $now->format('l, F j, Y H:i:s');
echo $formattedDate;


We started by creating a DateTime object called “$now”, which corresponds to the current date and time. Then we used the format() method of the PHP DateTime object to display the date and time in the desired format. Finally, we displayed the date thus formatted.

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