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Java SimpleDateFormat - Java Date Format

Published on August 3, 2022 · Updated on October 24, 2022
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By Pankaj
Developer and author at DigitalOcean.
Java SimpleDateFormat - Java Date Format

Introduction

Java SimpleDateFormat and DateFormat classes are used for date formatting. It is mostly used where we need to display or utilize the date and time functionality of Java. Both of these classes are present in com.text package.

Java DateFormat

  • DateFormat is used for formatting a date into String based on specific locale that is provided as input.
  • The locale is used for specifying the region and language for making the code more locale to the user.
  • The way of writing date is different in different regions of the world. For example, 31st Dec 2017 will be written in India as 31-12-2017 but the same thing will be written in the United States of America as 12-31-2017.
  • DateFormat classes are not synchronized, it’s recommended to create separate instance for each thread.

A DateFormat object can be created using the getDateInstance() and getTimeInstance() method of the DateFormat class.

Locale loc = new Locale("en", "US");
DateFormat dateFormat = DateFormat.getDateInstance(DateFormat.DEFAULT, loc);

Note: The constructor Locale(String, String) is deprecated since version 19

Locale loc = new Locale.Builder().setLanguage("en").setRegion("US").build();

The getDateInstance method of DateFormat needs two input parameters. The first parameter specifies the DateFormat to use and the second parameter is the locale.

Using format

DateFormat class has a format method which is responsible for formatting.

Locale locale = new Locale("fr", "FR");
DateFormat dateFormat = DateFormat.getDateInstance(DateFormat.DEFAULT, locale);
String date = dateFormat.format(new Date());
System.out.print(date);

This code will format the date in the French (fr) language and the France (FR) region:

Output
3 janv. 2018

Using getTimeInstance()

For creating a DateFormat instance we are using getDateInstance() method.

For performing a time format, we need an instance of time. We will be using getTimeInstance() method for getting an instance of time.

Locale locale = new Locale("fr", "FR");
DateFormat dateFormat = DateFormat.getTimeInstance(DateFormat.DEFAULT, locale);
String date = dateFormat.format(new Date());
System.out.print(date);

This code will format the time in the French (fr) language and the France (FR) region:

Output
11:03:01

Java SimpleDateFormat

SimpleDateFormat is similar to DateFormat. The only major difference between them is that SimpleDateFormat can be used for formatting (Date to String conversion) and for parsing (String to Date conversion) with locale support, whereas DateFormat don’t have locale support. DateFormat is an abstract class that provides base support for date formatting and parsing. SimpleDateFormat is the concrete class that extends DateFormat class.

SimpleDateFormat can be created using the SimpleDateFormat constructor. The constructor is a parametrised constructor and needs a String pattern as the parameter.

String pattern = "MM-dd-yyyy";
SimpleDateFormat simpleDateFormat = new SimpleDateFormat(pattern);

The String pattern is the pattern which will be used to format a date and the output will be generated in that pattern as “MM-dd-yyyy”.

Patterns

Let us have a look at the pattern syntax that should be used for the formatting pattern.

Letter for Pattern Date or Time component Examples
G Era designator AD
y Year 2018 (yyyy), 18 (yy)
M Month in year July (MMMM), Jul (MMM), 07 (MM)
w Results in week in year 16
W Results in week in month 3
D Gives the day count in the year 266
d Day of the month 09 (dd), 9(d)
F Day of the week in month 4
E Day name in the week Tuesday, Tue
u Day number of week where 1 represents Monday, 2 represents Tuesday and so on 2
a AM or PM marker AM
H Hour in the day (0-23) 12
k Hour in the day (1-24) 23
K Hour in am/pm for 12 hour format (0-11) 0
h Hour in am/pm for 12 hour format (1-12) 12
m Minute in the hour 59
s Second in the minute 35
S Millisecond in the minute 978
z Timezone Pacific Standard Time; PST; GMT-08:00
Z Timezone offset in hours (RFC pattern) -0800
X Timezone offset in ISO format -08; -0800; -08:00

Some letters should be used in different amount for different results like for month:

Type Pattern Example Output
Full Month MMMM July
Abbreviated Month MMM Jul
Numeric Month MM 07

Examples

Let us now look at some examples for different formats of date and time.

Pattern Result
MM/dd/yyyy 01/02/2018
dd-M-yyyy hh:mm:ss 02-1-2018 06:07:59
dd MMMM yyyy 02 January 2018
dd MMMM yyyy zzzz 02 January 2018 India Standard Time
E, dd MMM yyyy HH:mm:ss z Tue, 02 Jan 2018 18:07:59 IST

Using SimpleDateFormat()

In order to parse a date we need to create an instance of SimpleDateFormat using the constructor and then use the format() method:

String pattern = "MM-dd-yyyy";
SimpleDateFormat simpleDateFormat = new SimpleDateFormat(pattern);
String date = simpleDateFormat.format(new Date());
System.out.println(date);

This code will output “MM-dd-yyyy”:

Output
01-02-2018

This pattern produces “month in year”, “day in month”, and “year”. The type of character (and capitalization) and the amount of characters contribute to the string. The month would be represented as two digits, the day as two digits, and the year as four digits.

This code displayed the date of “January 2, 2018” as “01-02-2018”.

For parsing time, we have to change the pattern while creating SimpleDateFormat instance.

String pattern = "HH:mm:ss.SSSZ";
SimpleDateFormat simpleDateFormat = new SimpleDateFormat(pattern);
String date = simpleDateFormat.format(new Date());
System.out.println(date);

This code will output “HH:mm:ss.SSSZ”:

Output
13:03:15.454+0530

This pattern produces “hours”, “minutes”, “seconds”, “milliseconds”, and “timezone offset in hours (RFC pattern)”.

This code displayed the time as “13:03:15.454+0530”.

Using parse()

Parsing is the conversion of String into a java.util.Date instance. We can parse a string to a date instance using parse() method of the SimpleDateFormat class. For parsing a String to Date we need an instance of the SimpleDateFormat class and a string pattern as input for the constructor of the class.

String pattern = "MM-dd-yyyy";
SimpleDateFormat simpleDateFormat = new SimpleDateFormat(pattern);
Date date = simpleDateFormat.parse("12-01-2018");
System.out.println(date);

This will output a date (12-01-2018) without a specified time:

Output
Sat Dec 01 00:00:00 IST 2018

Now let’s look at SimpleDateFormat example to parse time.

String pattern = "HH:mm:ss";
SimpleDateFormat simpleDateFormat = new SimpleDateFormat(pattern);
Date date = simpleDateFormat.parse("22:00:03");
System.out.println(date);

This will output a time (22:00:03) without a specified date:

Output
Thu Jan 01 22:00:03 IST 1970

Because we have not specified any date the program considered epoch as the date (i.e., 01-Jan-1970).

Using Locale

We have worked with Locale as part of the DateFormat and we have seen that locales are used based on regions.

String pattern = "EEEEE MMMMM yyyy HH:mm:ss.SSSZ";
SimpleDateFormat simpleDateFormat = new SimpleDateFormat(pattern, new Locale("fr", "FR"));
Date date = simpleDateFormat.format(new Date());
System.out.println(date);

This code will format the current time in the French (fr) language and the France (FR) region:

Output
mardi janvier 2018 14:51:02.354+0530

The day and month are named in French based on the Locale provided as input - mardi is “Tuesday” and janvier is “January”.

Conclusion

In this article, you learned about Java’s SimpleDateFormat and DateFormat.

Reference:

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About the authors
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Pankaj

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Developer and author at DigitalOcean.

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JournalDev
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March 13, 2020

Wrong, “whereas DateFormat allows only formatting of Date.” it can be for parse string to Date

- sda

    JournalDev
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    February 4, 2020

    This is the best tutorial on dates I have ever seen

    - Joe E

      JournalDev
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      October 11, 2018

      You Should Append About Calendar Class because Date is deprecated

      - John Snow

        JournalDev
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        May 24, 2018

        How can i set date format 20th may, 2010

        - sridhar

          JournalDev
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          April 9, 2018

          Thank you for the article, it’s been very helpful. I believe the day of the week should be amended in this manner below: EEEE, E Day name in the week Tuesday(EEEE), Tue(E or EEE)

          - Shane McCurdy

            JournalDev
            DigitalOcean Employee
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            January 4, 2018

            You Should have addressed the important topic like Date conversion to different TimeZones. Anyway great tutorial.

            - ManishS

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