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The System.TimeSpan struct is a useful addition to time and date handling with no Java equivalent. The TimeSpan struct represents a time interval independent of calendar settings. A TimeSpan can be created through constructors or static methods contained in the TimeSpan class. The interval represented by the TimeSpan is specified in ticks or by specifying the number of days, hours, minutes, seconds, and milliseconds. Because a TimeSpan is independent of calendars, the largest unit of time it understands is the day. TimeSpan instances can have negative values. Operator overloading allows TimeSpan instances to be added, subtracted, negated, and compared using standard operators.
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Creating Dates
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DateTime instances are created via the DateTime constructors or by using the static fields and properties of DateTime. Once created, instances of DateTime are immutable. Table 8-7 summarizes the most common ways to create DateTime instances.
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8. Numbers and Dates
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Table 8-7. DateTime Creation Methods
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Creator Constructors DateTime(long) DateTime(various)
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Description Creates a DateTime instance using the long specified as the tick offset. Overloaded constructors support the creation of DateTime instances from specified year, month, day, hour, minute, second, and millisecond values. It's also possible to specify the Calendar instance that will be used by the DateTime instance.
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Public Fields DateTime.MaxValue DateTime.MinValue Properties DateTime.Now DateTime.Today
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Constant representing the largest possible DateTime value. Constant representing the smallest possible DateTime value. Static property used to get a DateTime that represents the current local date and time. Static property used to get a DateTime that represents the current date; the time component will be 00:00:00.
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Methods DateTime.FromFileTime() Static method that returns a DateTime instance from a file system timestamp.
Manipulating Dates
Java has deprecated the date and time manipulation functions of the Date class. The abstract Calendar class and the concrete subclasses such as GregorianCalendar provide the bridge between Date instances and human-readable time and date information. The relationship between the .NET DateTime and Calendar classes means that both the DateTime and the Calendar classes have comparable sets of members for manipulating dates. The DateTime members work on the current DateTime instance, whereas the Calendar members take DateTime instances as arguments. The members of DateTime and Calendar provide functionality to
Retrieve any component of a DateTime, including ticks, era, year, month, day, and so on. Add time intervals to a DateTime instance, specified in ticks, hours, days, and so on. It's possible to add a TimeSpan instance to a DateTime through the methods of DateTime or by using the + or - operator overloaded by DateTime. Convert a DateTime instance to and from UTC time.
Formatting Dates
The DateTime class implements the IFormattable interface. IFormattable is discussed in the "System.IFormattable" section earlier in this chapter and in 7. As with numbers,
8. Numbers and Dates
.NET provides a selection of standard and custom format strings for expressing the required format of the returned string representation. Refer to the .NET documentation for a description. The DateTime class implements a number of convenience methods that automatically apply common formatting to DateTime instances. These include the following: ToLongDateString, ToLongTimeString, ToShortDateString, and ToShortTimeString.
Parsing Strings
The static Parse and ParseExact methods of the DateTime class allow strings to be turned into DateTime instances. The Parse method makes a best effort to create a DateTime based on formatting specified in the current localization settings. Any missing information is filled in using the current date and time; if only a date is specified, the time will default to midnight. The ParseExact method takes a format string using the same syntax as IFormattable and parses the string. The input string must match the format string exactly, or System.FormatException is thrown.
Summary
This chapter has described the support for numbers, dates, and times provided by the .NET class library. Both Java and .NET provide comparable functionality despite implementation differences. The object capabilities provided by the .NET numeric types avoid the need for the separate wrapper and formatting used in Java, although .NET still consolidates conversions into a separate utility class. .NET provides more unified time and date support. The implementation of the DateTime class avoids functionality being spread across multiple related classes, and the use of operators on DateTime instances makes for cleaner, more readable code.
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