C# TimeSpan Examples

Use TimeSpan structs. TimeSpan represents a period of time and has many helpful methods.

TimeSpan. This .NET type represents a length of time. We can create or manipulate TimeSpan instances. TimeSpan provides many properties and methods.

Type notes. TimeSpan is implemented as a struct type. We use its many constructors to specify a new TimeSpan. We can add TimeSpans, or subtract them to get elapsed times.

Constructor. First we use the TimeSpan instance constructor to create TimeSpan structs. This constructor has several parameters and overloaded versions.ConstructorOverload

Tip: We can use the user interface in Visual Studio to easily choose the best one.

Program: We call the TimeSpan constructor with 5 int arguments. The code creates a TimeSpan with 1 day, 2 hours, and 30 seconds.

C# program that uses TimeSpan constructor using System; class Program { static void Main() { // Use TimeSpan constructor to specify: // ... Days, hours, minutes, seconds, milliseconds. // ... The TimeSpan returned has those values. TimeSpan span = new TimeSpan(1, 2, 0, 30, 0); Console.WriteLine(span); } } Output 1.02:00:30

From methods. The TimeSpan type has several public static methods that start with the word From. These include FromDays, FromHours, FromMinutes, FromSeconds, and FromMilliseconds.

Double: These methods convert a number of double type into a TimeSpan struct instance.

Result: The TimeSpan result will allow you to use the figure in a more natural way in C# programs and other methods.

Tip: It is useful to pass a number that has a decimal place to the From methods.

Convert TimeSpan, Long
C# program that uses TimeSpan.From methods using System; class Program { static void Main() { // Get time spans from a specific double unit of time. // ... These allow easier manipulation of the time. TimeSpan span1 = TimeSpan.FromDays(1); TimeSpan span2 = TimeSpan.FromHours(1); TimeSpan span3 = TimeSpan.FromMinutes(1); TimeSpan span4 = TimeSpan.FromSeconds(1); TimeSpan span5 = TimeSpan.FromMilliseconds(1); Console.WriteLine(span1); Console.WriteLine(span2); Console.WriteLine(span3); Console.WriteLine(span4); Console.WriteLine(span5); } } Output 1.00:00:00 01:00:00 00:01:00 00:00:01 00:00:00.0010000

Add. Here we use the Add instance method. The TimeSpan.Add method receives one parameter of type TimeSpan. When we add one minute to two minutes, we get three minutes.

Immutable: Structs such as TimeSpan are immutable and you can assign the result of the Add method to another TimeSpan variable.

C# program that uses TimeSpan.Add method using System; class Program { static void Main() { // Adds a TimeSpan of one minute to a TimeSpan of two minutes. // ... Then we get three minutes in a TimeSpan. TimeSpan span1 = TimeSpan.FromMinutes(1); TimeSpan span2 = TimeSpan.FromMinutes(2); TimeSpan span3 = span1.Add(span2); Console.WriteLine(span3); } } Output 00:03:00

Subtract. This method receives one TimeSpan. The argument is the TimeSpan you want to subtract. Typically, you will subtract the smaller TimeSpan from the larger TimeSpan.

Next: This program shows that when you subtract one second from one minute, you receive 59 seconds.

C# program that uses TimeSpan.Subtract method using System; class Program { static void Main() { // Subtract TimeSpan of one second from one minute. // ... The result is 59 seconds. TimeSpan span1 = TimeSpan.FromMinutes(1); TimeSpan span2 = TimeSpan.FromSeconds(1); TimeSpan span3 = span1.Subtract(span2); Console.WriteLine(span3); } } Output 00:00:59

MaxValue, MinValue. We see the value returned when you access the MaxValue and MinValue fields, which are public static readonly fields.Readonly

Note: The MaxValue is equal to over ten million days. The MinValue is equal to negative ten million days.

C# program that uses MaxValue and MinValue using System; class Program { static void Main() { // Write the maximum, minimum and zero values for TimeSpan. Console.WriteLine(TimeSpan.MaxValue); Console.WriteLine(TimeSpan.MinValue); Console.WriteLine(TimeSpan.Zero); } } Output 10675199.02:48:05.4775807 -10675199.02:48:05.4775808 00:00:00

TicksPer constants. We look at the values of the TicksPerDay, TicksPerHour, TicksPerMinute, TicksPerSecond, and TicksPerMillisecond constants.

Note: These are constants and can be accessed with the composite name of the TimeSpan type.


Tip: The constants show how many ticks occur in each of these normal time units. There are 10,000 ticks in one millisecond.

C# program that uses TicksPer constants using System; class Program { static void Main() { // Write the values for these Ticks Per constants. Console.WriteLine(TimeSpan.TicksPerDay); Console.WriteLine(TimeSpan.TicksPerHour); Console.WriteLine(TimeSpan.TicksPerMinute); Console.WriteLine(TimeSpan.TicksPerSecond); Console.WriteLine(TimeSpan.TicksPerMillisecond); } } Output 864000000000 36000000000 600000000 10000000 10000

Duration. You can use this static method on the TimeSpan type. This method takes the TimeSpan instance and converts it to the absolute value of itself.Static

Negative: If you have a negative TimeSpan, this method will make the TimeSpan positive.

C# program that uses Duration method using System; class Program { static void Main() { // Use the TimeSpan Duration method. // ... This converts negative TimeSpans into positive TimeSpans. // ... Same as absolute value of the time. TimeSpan span = new TimeSpan(-1, -1, -1); TimeSpan duration = span.Duration(); Console.WriteLine(duration); } } Output 01:01:01

Hours, TotalHours. Here we demonstrate the difference between the Hours instance property on TimeSpan, and the TotalHours instance property.

Note: This also applies to other properties such as Seconds and TotalSeconds, and Days and TotalDays.

Hours: The Hours property returns the component of the TimeSpan that indicates hours. This is only a part of the entire time represented.

TotalHours: The TotalHours property returns the entire time represented converted to a value represented in hours.

C# program that uses Hours and TotalHours using System; class Program { static void Main() { // Shows the TimeSpan constructor, Hours and TotalHours. // ... Hours is only a part of the time. // ... TotalHours converts the entire time to hours. TimeSpan span = new TimeSpan(0, 500, 0, 0, 0); Console.WriteLine(span.Hours); Console.WriteLine(span.TotalHours); } } Output 20 500

Zero. The TimeSpan.Zero field is a public static field and it provides the exact representation of no time. This is useful because we cannot set a TimeSpan to zero in any other way.
C# program that uses TimeSpan.Zero value using System; class Program { static void Main() { // Demonstrate TimeSpan zero. TimeSpan span = TimeSpan.Zero; Console.WriteLine(span); Console.WriteLine(span.TotalMilliseconds); } } Output 00:00:00 0

Zero, internals. When you access the TimeSpan.Zero field, the "load static field" instruction is executed. This pushes the value onto the evaluation stack.

Note: Internally, the TimeSpan.Zero field is initialized in a static constructor in the TimeSpan type.

Tip: It uses the TimeSpan constructor where the argument is a long value of ticks. The argument 0L is used. This is zero in long format.

Also: In the TimeSpan(long) constructor, the field of name "_ticks" is assigned to the parameter. TimeSpan.Zero equals "new TimeSpan(0)".

TimeSpan constructor: C# static TimeSpan() { Zero = new TimeSpan(0L); MaxValue = new TimeSpan(9223372036854775807L); MinValue = new TimeSpan(-9223372036854775808L); }

Parse, TryParse. These methods are useful when reading in TimeSpans that may have been persisted as strings to files. The Parse and TryParse methods have similar internal logic.

But: TryParse is safer and faster for when you may encounter errors in the data, and it is usually better to use for this case.

First: This program first parses an entirely valid time span string. It specifies a span with zero hours, zero minutes, and one second.

Also: The program uses TryParse on an invalid time span string. This causes no exception to be thrown.

C# program that uses Parse and TryParse on TimeSpan using System; class Program { static void Main() { // Use TimeSpan.Parse method to parse in span string. // ... Write it to the console. TimeSpan span = TimeSpan.Parse("0:00:01"); Console.WriteLine(span); // Use TimeSpan.TryParse to try to parse an invalid span. // ... The result is TimeSpan.Zero. TimeSpan span2; TimeSpan.TryParse("X:00:01", out span2); Console.WriteLine(span2); } } Output 00:00:01 00:00:00

Format string. A TimeSpan can be formatted to a string with a format string. We can use codes like hh, mm and ss. We often must escape the ":" chars.

Here: We create a TimeSpan of 3 hours, 30 minutes. We format it with an hours: minutes: seconds format.

ToString: We can use these format strings in ToString, Console.WriteLine and string.Format.

C# program that uses format string using System; class Program { static void Main() { // Represents three hours and thirty minutes. TimeSpan threeHours = new TimeSpan(3, 30, 0); // Write hours, minutes and seconds. Console.WriteLine("{0:hh\\:mm\\:ss}", threeHours); } } Output 03:30:00

Benchmark, TimeSpan. Usually TimeSpan instances are not a performance concern. But for completeness, we test 3 different ways of acquiring TimeSpan instances.

Version 1: In this version of the code we create a new TimeSpan with its FromHours method.

Version 2: Here we use the TimeSpan constructor with 3 arguments to create a new TimeSpan instance.

Version 3: This code does not create a new TimeSpan but assumes a cached TimeSpan is available and references that.

Result: The code that uses TimeSpan.FromHours is far slower than the other 2 examples.

C# program that benchmarks TimeSpan using System; using System.Diagnostics; class Program { static void Main() { const int m = 100000000; Stopwatch s1 = Stopwatch.StartNew(); // Version 1: use FromHours. for (int i = 0; i < m; i++) { TimeSpan span = TimeSpan.FromHours(1); } s1.Stop(); Stopwatch s2 = Stopwatch.StartNew(); // Version 2: use TimeSpan constructor. for (int i = 0; i < m; i++) { TimeSpan span = new TimeSpan(1, 0, 0); } s2.Stop(); Stopwatch s3 = Stopwatch.StartNew(); // Version 3: use cached TimeSpan. TimeSpan cache = new TimeSpan(1, 0, 0); for (int i = 0; i < m; i++) { TimeSpan span = cache; } s3.Stop(); Console.WriteLine("{0},{1},{2}", s1.ElapsedMilliseconds, s2.ElapsedMilliseconds, s3.ElapsedMilliseconds); Console.Read(); } } Output TimeSpan.FromHours(1): 1788 ms new TimeSpan(1, 0, 0): 989 ms Cache: 31 ms

TimeSpan, internals. I discovered the above performance differences when looking into the implementation of TimeSpan.FromHours. I saw some complicated logic.

Note: TimeSpan.FromHours has these instructions: 1 check, 1 multiply, 1 add, 1 check, 2 checks, 1 multiply, 1 cast, 1 constructor.

Tip: You can improve performance when using TimeSpan instances. When using dates and times, cache TimeSpans you will repeatedly need.

Avoid these TimeSpan methods: TimeSpan.FromDays TimeSpan.FromHours TimeSpan.FromMilliseconds TimeSpan.FromMinutes TimeSpan.FromSeconds Prefer these TimeSpan constructors: new TimeSpan(long) new TimeSpan(int, int int)

Sleep. The Sleep() method can be called with a TimeSpan argument. To sleep for 3 seconds, we can use TimeSpan.FromSeconds with an argument of 3.Sleep

A summary. We looked at many aspects of TimeSpan. This struct type is a useful representation of periods of time in your programs.

Methods and properties. It provides many helper methods and properties to improve time calculations. Certain other types, such as Stopwatch, use TimeSpans for their representations.StopwatchDateTime
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