Month: September 2007

Convert UTC dates to local timezone offset automatically

Posted by – September 11, 2007

So I was working on an application that printed out lots of dates to the user. However, I get traffic from all over the world, and as this is kind-of time sensitive information, I wanted to display the time in their own timezone. I have don’t this before on things like forums, where you allow the user to select their timezone when they register. But what if your users don’t register?

I decided to build a javascript function that would automatically convert from UTC time to the users’ local timezone. This is a pretty simple task, and should work very effectively. I already store the dates in my database as UTC format, which is a good idea to do so that there is never any confusion later as to what timezone a date is in (What if you and/or your server moves?). Also because this is a javascript function, we have the ability to determine the users local time – something that we normally wouldn’t have.

Without further ado, here is the code:

var dateFunction = {
  convertDate : function (gmtDate){
    var originalDate = new Date(gmtDate);
    var retStr = (originalDate.getMonth()+1) + "-" + originalDate.getDate() + "-" + originalDate.getFullYear();
    return retStr;
  init : function(){
    var elems = YAHOO.util.Dom.getElementsByClassName('utcDate');
    for(var i=0;i

As you can see, I am using the YUI library to do some DOM parsing, and unobtrusively add some event listeners. The code should be pretty straight forward, when the page loads I look for all elements with a class of "utcDate" and pass the innerHTML into a separate function. The other function create a new date object, using the original UTC date as the time. By doing this, javascript automatically will display this new date in the users' local time. I can then return the date in whatever format I want. Finally, I replace the innerHTML of the element with the new date string, and we are all set

This provides a simple way to convert dates to local timezone offset, and all the is required is for you to wrap any date you want converted in an element with a class equal to "utcDate". It also degrades gracefully, because without javascript users will simply see the date in UTC format, which isn't really a bad thing, and probably what you would be showing them anyways, if you didn't have this nifty script!