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DateTime FormatUse DateTime format patterns. Call the ToString method with a format string.
VB.NET
This page was last reviewed on Jun 22, 2022.
DateTime format. In VB.NET we format dates and times with a string pattern. This changes how days, months and years are displayed. Many format strings are supported by .NET.
Formatting DateTime as a string is straightforward. Often we use format patterns like "HH." But methods like ToShortDateString are also useful.
Example. First we get the current time through DateTime.Now. When you execute these code examples, the current DateTime will be different on your computer.
Here A format string beginning with MMM (for the month) is used. Look at how the pattern matches up to the output of the program.
Module Module1 Sub Main() ' Use current time. ' ... Use a format. ' ... Write to console. Dim time As DateTime = DateTime.Now Dim format As String = "MMM ddd d HH:mm yyyy" Console.WriteLine(time.ToString(format)) End Sub End Module
Jun Wed 22 08:07 2022
MMM Three-letter month. ddd Three-letter day of the week. d Day of the month. HH Two-digit hours on 24-hour scale. mm Two-digit minutes. yyyy Four-digit year.
Pattern. It is possible to change the pattern used in the format string in many ways. To explore this, we try to shorten the output by changing the MMM to a single M.
Note The pattern matches up to the output of the program. The description of the formatting string is shown in tabular format.
Module Module1 Sub Main() ' Use current time. ' ... Use a format. ' ... Write to console. Dim time As DateTime = DateTime.Now Dim format As String = "M d HH:mm yy" Console.WriteLine(time.ToString(format)) End Sub End Module
5 18 16:46 10
M One-digit month number. d One-digit day of the month. HH Two-digit hours on 24-hour scale. mm Two-digit minutes. yy Two-digit year.
One-character formats. Here we use single-character format strings. For this feature, you pass a one-character string to the ToString function.
Note This encodes a specific formatting style. Sometimes it might be worth memorizing the ones you like the most.
However Searching for a formatting string table on the Internet is much easier and requires less effort.
Module Module1 Sub Main() ' Acquire current time and then try format strings. Dim now As DateTime = DateTime.Now Console.WriteLine(now.ToString("d")) Console.WriteLine(now.ToString("D")) Console.WriteLine(now.ToString("f")) Console.WriteLine(now.ToString("F")) Console.WriteLine(now.ToString("g")) Console.WriteLine(now.ToString("G")) Console.WriteLine(now.ToString("m")) Console.WriteLine(now.ToString("M")) Console.WriteLine(now.ToString("o")) Console.WriteLine(now.ToString("O")) Console.WriteLine(now.ToString("s")) Console.WriteLine(now.ToString("t")) Console.WriteLine(now.ToString("T")) Console.WriteLine(now.ToString("u")) Console.WriteLine(now.ToString("U")) Console.WriteLine(now.ToString("y")) Console.WriteLine(now.ToString("Y")) End Sub End Module
5/18/2010 Tuesday, May 18, 2010 Tuesday, May 18, 2010 4:47 PM Tuesday, May 18, 2010 4:47:55 PM 5/18/2010 4:47 PM 5/18/2010 4:47:55 PM May 18 May 18 2010-05-18T16:47:55.9620000-06:00 2010-05-18T16:47:55.9620000-06:00 2010-05-18T16:47:55 4:47 PM 4:47:55 PM 2010-05-18 16:47:55Z Tuesday, May 18, 2010 10:47:55 PM May, 2010 May, 2010
Helper functions. These functions, available on DateTime, allow us to format strings. For rapid application development, these are ideal because they are easy to remember and guess.
Note The methods with the word Long in them produce considerably more verbose output.
Module Module1 Sub Main() ' Use string helper functions. Dim now As DateTime = DateTime.Now Console.WriteLine(now.ToLongDateString()) Console.WriteLine(now.ToLongTimeString()) Console.WriteLine(now.ToShortDateString()) Console.WriteLine(now.ToShortTimeString()) Console.WriteLine(now.ToString()) End Sub End Module
Tuesday, May 18, 2010 4:49:57 PM 5/18/2010 4:49 PM 5/18/2010 4:49:57 PM
Short day strings. The .NET Framework gives us the ability to print the representation of a day in short form. The three-letter form returns the day name and truncates it.
Here In this example, we use a loop construct that iterates through seven days and prints out the short form string for each of them.
For Each, For
Module Module1 Sub Main() ' Current time. Dim now As DateTime = DateTime.Now ' Print out all the days. For index As Integer = 0 To 6 Console.WriteLine(now.ToString("ddd")) now = now.AddDays(1) Next End Sub End Module
Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun Mon
Long day strings. You can also print out the long day strings using the format string dddd. For more textual output, the longer day string might be preferred.
Here In this example, we loop over seven consecutive days and print out the long day strings.
Module Module1 Sub Main() Dim now As DateTime = DateTime.Now For index As Integer = 0 To 6 Console.WriteLine(now.ToString("dddd")) now = now.AddDays(1) Next End Sub End Module
Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday Monday
AM, PM. When you are using a 12-hour based time system, you will typically want to display AM or PM to indicate whether it is morning or evening.
Next This example prints out AM and PM for two times that are twelve hours apart.
Question Are you a morning person, or a night person? This program will help you figure this out.
Module Module1 Sub Main() Dim now As DateTime = DateTime.Now For index As Integer = 0 To 1 Console.WriteLine(now.ToString("tt ")) now = now.AddHours(12) Next End Sub End Module
PM AM
Year. The year part of the format string is also important. Typically, you will want a two or four digit year, but a one-digit year is also possible with a single y.
Here Let's look at some output in an example program that tests yy and yyyy. We see two-digit and four-digit years.
Module Module1 Sub Main() ' Use the best y patterns. Dim now As DateTime = DateTime.Now Console.WriteLine(now.ToString("yy")) Console.WriteLine(now.ToString("yyyy")) End Sub End Module
10 2010
Empty formats. When we use a Nothing, empty, or missing format string, the default ToString implementation is used. It is easiest to just omit the argument when no special format is needed.
Module Module1 Sub Main() Dim testDate As DateTime = New Date(2019, 1, 1) Dim nothingString As String = Nothing ' Test the ToString Function. Console.WriteLine("NOTHING: {0}", testDate.ToString(nothingString)) Console.WriteLine("EMPTY: {0}", testDate.ToString("")) Console.WriteLine("MISSING: {0}", testDate.ToString()) End Sub End Module
NOTHING: 1/1/2019 12:00:00 AM EMPTY: 1/1/2019 12:00:00 AM MISSING: 1/1/2019 12:00:00 AM
FormatException. Be careful to use a valid format string with DateTime. Some patterns, like the asterisk, will cause a FormatException—lower and uppercase letters should be used instead.
Module Module1 Sub Main() Dim testDate As DateTime = New Date(2000, 1, 1) Dim result As String = testDate.ToString("*") End Sub End Module
Unhandled Exception: System.FormatException: Input string was not in a correct format. at System.DateTimeFormat.GetRealFormat...
Format characters. You can use a variety of format characters on the DateTime type. For a more complete description, please view the article written for the C# language.
DateTime Format
Note The formatting characters used in both languages are identical. The surrounding code syntax is the only difference.
A summary. Correctly using format strings on DateTime is possible. DateTime has many convenience functions, different format character styles and display options.
DateTime requires no custom code on our part. This makes programs easier to maintain and read. The DateTime formatting mechanism can handle most common cases.
Dot Net Perls is a collection of tested code examples. Pages are continually updated to stay current, with code correctness a top priority.
Sam Allen is passionate about computer languages. In the past, his work has been recommended by Apple and Microsoft and he has studied computers at a selective university in the United States.
This page was last updated on Jun 22, 2022 (new example).
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