Go Date and Time Formatting

Learn how to format a date in Go, using format constants or a custom format

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In Go, the current time can be determined using time.Now(), provided by the time package.

t := time.Now()

This will print the system local time. Want UTC instead? append .UTC():

The time can be formatted using the time.Format() method:

t := time.Now().UTC()

Want the timestamp?

t := time.Now().Unix()

Use a custom format

An example of formatting with a custom format is:

fmt.Println(t.Format("2006-01-02 15:04:05"))

That 2006-01-02 15:04:05 string looks strange, isn’t it? It’s not like it’s 2006 now! But it will print (at the time of writing) 2017-01-16 12:53:51

If you’re new to Go, this will sound very strange.

Here’s the explanation: Go’s time formatting is unique and different than what you would do in other languages. Instead of having a conventional format to print the date, Go uses the reference date 20060102150405 which seems meaningless but actually has a reason, as it’s 1 2 3 4 5 6 in the Posix date command:

Mon Jan 2 15:04:05 -0700 MST 2006
0   1   2  3  4  5              6

The timezone in the middle would have been the 7 (not really sure why they didn’t pick Mon Jan 2 03:04:05 -0600 MST 2007, by the way)

Interesting historical reference: https://github.com/golang/go/issues/444

Use a format constants

Go provides in the time package some handy constants for commonly used formats:

const (
        ANSIC       = "Mon Jan _2 15:04:05 2006"
        UnixDate    = "Mon Jan _2 15:04:05 MST 2006"
        RubyDate    = "Mon Jan 02 15:04:05 -0700 2006"
        RFC822      = "02 Jan 06 15:04 MST"
        RFC822Z     = "02 Jan 06 15:04 -0700" // RFC822 with numeric zone
        RFC850      = "Monday, 02-Jan-06 15:04:05 MST"
        RFC1123     = "Mon, 02 Jan 2006 15:04:05 MST"
        RFC1123Z    = "Mon, 02 Jan 2006 15:04:05 -0700" // RFC1123 with numeric zone
        RFC3339     = "2006-01-02T15:04:05Z07:00"
        RFC3339Nano = "2006-01-02T15:04:05.999999999Z07:00"
        Kitchen     = "3:04PM"
        // Handy time stamps.
        Stamp      = "Jan _2 15:04:05"
        StampMilli = "Jan _2 15:04:05.000"
        StampMicro = "Jan _2 15:04:05.000000"
        StampNano  = "Jan _2 15:04:05.000000000"
)

You can use them like this:

t := time.Now()
fmt.Println(t.Format(time.ANSIC))

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