I have a standard Drupal date field 'My date' (field_my_date). I can get its value:

$node->field_my_date->value  // returns: "2017-12-14T08:00:00"

But I want to get a formatted date string, which should look like: "14.12.2017".

If I analyse the field in the interactive shell (drush core-cli), then I see, that I can get the DateTimeFieldItemList object or DateTimeItem object:

>>> $node->field_my_date
=> Drupal\datetime\Plugin\Field\FieldType\DateTimeFieldItemList {#8836
 0: Drupal\datetime\Plugin\Field\FieldType\DateTimeItem {#8841},

>>> $node->field_my_date[0]
=> Drupal\datetime\Plugin\Field\FieldType\DateTimeItem {#8841
 value: [
   "value" => "2017-12-14T08:00:00",

But I have not found any method to reformat the date string. Is there some possibility to define the format of the output date string? Or do I have to reformat the output string e.g. like this:

date("j.n.Y", strtotime($node->field_my_date->value));
  • Where do you need this formatted string? Where is it going to be used/displayed? – mpdonadio Dec 18 '17 at 15:13
  • In my custom module I need to get all dates from selected nodes. The dates (and other data) will be then used to create an e-mail message. – Antonín Slejška Dec 18 '17 at 15:19

A date field has two properties, value to store the date in UTC and date, a computed field returning a DrupalDateTime object, on which you can use the methods getTimestamp() or format():

// get unix timestamp
$timestamp = $node->field_date->date->getTimestamp();
// get a formatted date
$date_formatted = $node->field_date->date->format('Y-m-d H:i:s');
  • This was essentially going to be my answer, but it is best to use the date.formatter service to handle any localization concerns, and to also allow the date format config entities to be used (instead of hardcoding format strings). – mpdonadio Dec 18 '17 at 17:31
  • I tested it and it works perfectly. I do not understand, why the date property is not listed in the docs: api.drupal.org/api/drupal/… – Antonín Slejška Dec 19 '17 at 7:55
  • In case of complex field types (which have not the usual value property) I always look in the property definition, see DateTimeItem::propertyDefinitions – 4k4 Dec 19 '17 at 8:00
  • I have a few similar problems. And I have found, that it is possible to get e.g. the name of a taxonomy term like this: $node->field_region->entity->name->value But I have no idea, where are all these properties listed. Or do I have to just use a trial and error approach? – Antonín Slejška Dec 19 '17 at 8:35
  • entity is also a computed property, this time of a reference field. It uses the target id stored in the database to load the referenced entity. So you don't need a separate step to load the target. – 4k4 Dec 19 '17 at 8:41

To avoid the next Y2K type problem (Unix timestamp fields running out of byte ), the dates are stored in SQL's date fields. The entity object is going to have the same value as is returned from the storage media (SQL).

When you display this using the standard render code, the display widget will handle the formatting. You can set this in the Entity Display form.

If you are doing this in your code, you will need to provide the formatting code yourself. It's not hard using the DateTime object with code similar to.

$new_datetime = DateTime::createFromFormat ( "Y-m-d\TH:i:sT", $row["timestamp"] );
$formatted_date $new_datetime->format('j.n.Y');

There's probably a way to do this in twig, but it would be much easier in a template preprocess hook.

  • Do I understand it correctly, that there is no way to get the reformatted string directly from the DateTimeItem object? Something like: $node->field_my_date[0]->format('j.n.Y') – Antonín Slejška Dec 18 '17 at 15:43
  • I expect, that my question is a little stupid, but I have expected, when the name of the class is DateTimeItem, that it will be possible to use it similarly as the class DateTime. – Antonín Slejška Dec 18 '17 at 15:46
  • 1
    It's a case of keeping the MVC design clean. The DateTimeItem is the data model and not related to the view (formatting). Confusion in naming is because SQL uses DateTime as the column type and so the Data Model uses that. In Drupal the formatting comes at render time which is done by field widgets. There is probably a way to run the field thru the defined widget to get the proper format.. but it would be more convoluted than just using PhP DateTime methods. – CG Monroe Dec 18 '17 at 16:14
  • @CGMonroe datetime fields are stored as strings, and don't use the database specific column types. Unfortunately, those aren't portable between backends, which make things more complicated. – mpdonadio Dec 18 '17 at 17:33

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