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Snippet: DateUtils

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This is the first in a new series of posts I’m going to regularly publish (weekly-ish) of code snippets which could save you a lot of #AndroidDev time. The first of which is about one of my favourite classes in Android: DateUtils.

It’s Javadoc keeps things nice and short:

This class contains various date-related utilities for creating text for things like elapsed time and date ranges, strings for days of the week and months, and AM/PM text etc.

It contains a lot of static methods to help you format date, times, time deltas into a human-readable String. The best bit though is that it handles all of the localisation for you!

Example Use>

Example Use #

So I’ll give you an example of where you might use this class. Say you have a Twitter timeline and want to display how long ago a tweet was sent. You could write the code yourself, but you’d quickly end up with a long method which is difficult to test. So instead, use DateUtils.getRelativeTimeSpanString(...). At the time of writing there five versions of the method, but the one I tend to use is:

CharSequence getRelativeTimeSpanString (long time, long now, long minResolution)

So how do you use the method? Well it’s pretty simple:

  • time – The time of the Tweet (epoch format).
  • now – System.currentTimeMillis()
  • minResolution – This depends how accurate you granular you want the String to be. I tend to use SECOND_IN_MILLIS so the smallest unit of time will be seconds.

Which returns something like this (in English):

2 seconds ago

Or this in German:

Vor 33 Sekunden

Bottom Line>

Bottom Line #

If you’re doing any kind of date or time formatting, make sure you check to see if it is already implemented in DateUtils. It will save you a lot of time!