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So I have included a date field in my custom block form and would like to use the date.

However it is saved as an array which I am finding a little difficult to work with:

The format for "#default_value" and "#return_value" is an array with three elements with the keys: 'year', month', and 'day'. For example, array('year' => 2007, 'month' => 2, 'day' => 15)

What is the best way of getting this "date array" into something I can use strtotime() on? Am I missing some Drupal way of allowing me to format this nicely into a string?

What I have working seems to be very long winded and static:

$startDate = variable_get('start_date', NULL);
if (isset($startDatea)) {
  $startDate = $startDatea['month'].'/'.$startDatea['day'].'/'.$startDatea['year'];
  $startDate = date('Y-m-d', strtotime($startDate));
}

I am sure there must be a nicer way.

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For what it's worth you have a typo in your sample code, $startDate is being referenced as $startDatea - note the extra "a". As for a shorter version, try:

$startDate = variable_get('start_date', NULL);
$startDate = date('Y-m-d', mktime(0,0,0, $startDate['month'], $startDate['day'], $startDate['year']);

I suspect not jumping from numeric to string and then back again might save you a few cycles at the PHP layer.

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