2017 © Pedro Peláez

library carbonator

Datetime helpers for timezone handling



Datetime helpers for timezone handling

  • Monday, January 23, 2017
  • by bjuppa
  • Repository
  • 3 Watchers
  • 3 Stars
  • 239 Installations
  • PHP
  • 1 Dependents
  • 0 Suggesters
  • 0 Forks
  • 2 Open issues
  • 2 Versions
  • 37 % Grown



Build Status, (*1)

A collection of datetime helpers built on Carbon. They help you easily parse or convert strings or DateTimes between timezones (and format them) with one single call., (*2)

A good pattern is to always keep your app working with times in the UTC timezone internally and to store any time data in that default timezone. If you're temped to or already use another timezone as default, please read the following article: Always Use UTC Dates And Times., (*3)

This is how Carbonator can help you juggle those timezones:, (*4)

  1. Actively convert any times to UTC when user data enters the application. This is the perfect job for Carbonator::parseToDefaultTz($input, $tz_parse = null).
  2. If needed, convert to the user's timezone just before display or when populating inputs. parseToDatetimeLocal($input, $tz_target = null, $tz_parse = null) is one of the methods that can be used to directly format a string for display.


// Create DateTime in any timezone and get it in your app's default timezone:
$in_sweden = Carbon::parse('2016-08-07 13:37', 'Europe/Stockholm');
// Stockholm is 2 hours ahead of UTC during daylight savings time
$in_utc = Carbonator::parseToDefaultTz($in_sweden);
echo $in_utc->toCookieString();
// Sunday, 07-Aug-2016 11:37:00 UTC

// Parse directly from a string in a timezone and get it in your app's default timezone:
$in_utc = Carbonator::parseToDefaultTz('2016-08-07 13:37', '-05:00');
echo $in_utc->toCookieString();
// Sunday, 07-Aug-2016 18:37:00 UTC

// Format a time for a user in Namibia
$in_utc = Carbon::parse('2016-08-07 13:37');
// Windhoek is 1 hour ahead of UTC when not on daylight savings time (WAT: West Africa Time)
echo Carbonator::formatInTz($in_utc, 'D, M j, Y H:i T', 'Africa/Windhoek');
// Sun, Aug 7, 2016 14:37 WAT

// Populate a HTML5 datetime-local input for a user in Japan:
$in_utc = Carbon::parse('2016-08-07 13:37');
echo Carbonator::parseToDatetimeLocal($in_utc, 'Asia/Tokyo');
// 2016-08-07T22:37

Installation & Configuration

composer require fewagency/carbonator, (*5)


The Carbon package is excellent, but it doesn't support parsing other DateTime instances while keeping their timezone. That's just the behaviour of the PHP DateTime constructor and not much to do about., (*6)

Also, Carbon throws exceptions on errors. To be able to parse any user input without having to filter or validate it first, I wanted wrappers that just returns null when input can't be parsed., (*7)

I think it makes sense putting these opinionated parsing and display methods into a separate helper package instead of having Carbon do even more work., (*8)


The first parameter - $input

All of Carbonator's methods take a string or PHP DateTime instance as the first $input parameter., (*9)

This $input will be turned into a Carbon instance to process. Remember that Carbon extends DateTime and can always be used safely as input., (*10)

Any empty $input or any errors in parsing will make methods return null., (*11)

The last parameter - $tz_parse

All of Carbonator's methods also take the $tz_parse timezone as the last parameter. The $tz_parse timezone will be used as context when parsing an $input string, but will be ignored when parsing DateTime instances, as they already have a timezone. As per default DateTime behaviour, $tz_parse will also be ignored whenever there is timezone information supplied within the string., (*12)

Timezone parameters

Timezones can be supplied in string format (e.g. 'Europe/Stockholm' or '+01:00') or as a PHP DateTimeZone instance., (*13)

Remember, named timezones like Europe/Stockholm takes daylight savings time (summer time) into account, whereas offset timezones like +01:00 does not. Use named timezones if you can, your users will appreciate it., (*14)

If a timezone parameter is left out or null when calling a method, the PHP default timezone from date_default_timezone_get() will be used., (*15)

Hopefully your default timezone will be UTC. Some frameworks, like Laravel, set the timezone explicitly using a config value and you should keep that as UTC unless you really know what you're trying to achieve with another setting. Read more below in Check your setup., (*16)


Carbonator::parse($input, $tz_parse = null)

Returns a Carbon instance. Note that the timezone of the output doesn't always match the supplied context timezone from the 2nd parameter. The output is just guaranteed to be Carbon or null., (*17)

Carbonator::parseToTz($input, $tz_target = null, $tz_parse = null)

Returns a Carbon instance, guaranteed to be in the $tz_target timezone., (*18)

Carbonator::parseToDefaultTz($input, $tz_parse = null)

Returns a Carbon instance, guaranteed to be in the PHP default timezone., (*19)

Carbonator::formatInTz($input, $format, $tz_target = null, $tz_parse = null)

Returns a string formatted according to the $format - see docs for PHP's date(). The string is guaranteed to be in the $tz_target timezone., (*20)

Carbonator::parseToDatetimeLocal($input, $tz_target = null, $tz_parse = null)

Returns a string formatted for a HTML5 datetime-local input in the 'Y-m-d\TH:i' format (e.g. '2016-08-07T13:37'), with no timezone information. Be kind to your users and display the timezone next to your input, perhaps in the <label> or in an element referenced through the input's aria-describedby attribute., (*21)

Figuring out users' timezones

There's no way to know a user's timezone for sure, without asking them. If you want to help your users select a timezone, PHP's timezone_identifiers_list() is a nice tool to find relevant timezones by country or continent., (*22)

The list is quite long though, so you could do IP-location on the server side to suggest a timezone to the user. For Laravel there's a package called Laravel Geoip doing just that by connecting to different services., (*23)

In the browser you could run some javascript, for example jstimezonedetect to guess the named timezone of your user from the timezone offset reported by their operating system. Or you could use the browser's Geolocation API, but that could be seen as a bit intrusive by the user, with permissions and everything., (*24)

In Laravel, there's a handy validation rule for timezone identifiers., (*25)

Check your setup

This console command will check your Linux system timezone:, (*26)

date +%Z, (*27)

Hopefully it's UTC., (*28)

This query can be run by MySQL to check which timezones your database is using:, (*29)

SELECT @@global.time_zone, @@session.time_zone

Hopefully both display as SYSTEM or UTC., (*30)

From within PHP you can use date_default_timezone_get() to check what default timezone is used. If it's not UTC, find out where it's set by either:, (*31)

In Laravel

If you're using Laravel, you set your app's default timezone in your app's config/app.php., (*32)

You can easily check a database-connection's timezone using the artisan tinker command from the terminal:, (*33)

php artisan tinker, (*34)

Then run:, (*35)

DB::select('SELECT @@global.time_zone, @@session.time_zone');

Again, hopefully both are reported as SYSTEM or UTC. If the session timezone is wrong, an optional 'timezone' parameter can be set on MySQL connections in your app's config/databases.php. Don’t set it manually unless you need to, in which case it should be the same as the Laravel config, i.e 'UTC'. Actually, pulling in config('app.timezone') in the database config file works too!, (*36)

Other methods

Here's a good read on Getting MySQL To Do It when it comes to timezones and PHP., (*37)


I, Björn Nilsved, created this package while working at FEW., (*38)

The Versions

23/01 2017



Datetime helpers for timezone handling

  Sources   Download


The Requires


The Development Requires

by Bjorn Nilsved

helper carbon datetime timezone datetime-local

08/08 2016


Datetime helpers built on Carbon

  Sources   Download


The Requires


The Development Requires

by Bjorn Nilsved

helper carbon datetime datetime-local