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How old are you? (exactly)&toc - MySQL

In this article Mauricio shows us some examples of how to use the date/time features with MySQL and PHP including the UNIX timestamp and the PHP date_diff() function.

  1. Practical Date/Time examples with PHP and MySQL
  2. The UNIX timestamp
  3. How old are you? (exactly)
  4. Date Addition and Subtraction
  5. Conclusion
By: Mauricio Cuenca
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April 22, 2004

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Using the date_diff() function that we've just created it's very easy to calculate your exact age by how many years, days, hours, minutes and seconds since you were born:

// Calculating my exact age
$str_birthday = "1978-04-26"; // My Birth Day
$str_today = date("Y-m-d H:i:s"); // The exact time
date_diff($str_birthday, $str_today);


As you see I'm using the same function but changing the parameters a little. First $str_birthday is a fixed string, in this example my birthday.

You can, for example, ask the user through a form and then call the function like this:

The trick here is the date() function. With its given parameters prints the exact date of today in the format YYYY-MM-DD hh:mm:ss.

The code returns:
9024 days, 17 hours, 29 minutes, 57 seconds

How many days until…?

Again, using the same function that we created at the beginning and changing the parameters appropriately we can calculate how many days until a given date. There is a problem though; the UNIX timestamp only works for dates between January 1st, 1970 and December 31st, 2037. Dates outside that range will give an unpredictable result.

Now, hoping that we'll come up with a solution for this in the next thirty years let's do the math:

$str_future_date = "2028-04-26"; // I'll be fifty this day!
date_diff(date("Y-m-d H:i:s"), $str_future_date);


At this point you should be familiar with the function, just tweaking the parametersa little. In this case the first parameter is the exact date of today and the second is the future date that we want to know how many days until.{mospagebreak title=Dates with MySQL&toc=1} MySQL has several great date and time functions that are very useful when you are working with dates. These functions are worth another article which I'll be writing after this one.

Meanwhile I'll show the ones that I think are the more useful and interesting.

Also, forcing MySQL to do the date operations by itself saves a lot of time, a lot of code and increases the performance of your application.

Personally, every time that I need to do some date calculations involving dates contained in a database I take a look at MySQL documentation to see which function can help me and let it do the job for me.

In all the following examples the dates can be taken from the database itself, your code or user input.

Anyway, if you are working with databases it's obvious that at least one of the dates came from there.

Take care when using these functions as most of them work only on MySQL 3.22 and later. If you have doubts refer to the documentation.

The UNIX timestamp revisited

Programmers seem to like the UNIX timestamp very much because you can see it anywhere you go. In the case of MySQL you can use it like this:


This will return the current timestamp.

mysql> SELECT UNIX_TIMESTAMP('1978-04-26 02:12:59');
| UNIX_TIMESTAMP('1978-04-26 02:12:59') |
| 262422779 |

mysql> SELECT UNIX_TIMESTAMP('1978-04-26');
| UNIX_TIMESTAMP('1978-04-26') |
| 262414800 |

This will print the timestamp of the given date.

Be careful when creating the structure and definitions for this kind of table. MySQL returns the UNIX timestamp as an unsigned integer, so keep this in mind when creating your database.

Now, imagine you have a database with a column that contains a UNIX timestamp, you can also convert it to a 'human-readable' date using MySQL like this:

mysql> SELECT FROM_UNIXTIME('262422779');
| FROM_UNIXTIME('262422779') |
| 1978-04-26 02:12:59 |

With this value it's just a matter of two lines of code and to use the function date_diff() that I created before:

// Working with mysql
$ndbconn = mysql_connect("localhost", "user", "password");

// The query
$squery = "SELECT FROM_UNIXTIME('262422779'), NOW()";
$nresult = mysql_query($squery);
$s_given_date = mysql_result($nresult, 0, 0);
$s_curr_date = mysql_result($nresult, 0, 1);

// Free the result

// Disconnected

// The date difference
date_diff($s_given_date, $s_curr_date);

In this example I used MySQL to obtain the dates and then I calculated the time elapsed between both using my - now 'famous' - date_diff() function.

The UNIX timestamp can be any you have in your database, I selected the timestamp 262422779 that is exactly my 'birth time' and stored it in the $s_given_date variable.

Then I selected the current time with the NOW() function and stored it in the $s_curr_date variable. The rest is old news, I already explained how the function works.

>>> More MySQL Articles          >>> More By Mauricio Cuenca

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