JavaScript String to Date - Date Parsing in JS

JavaScript String to Date - Date Parsing in JS

This article originally appeared on freeCodeCamp here.

Dates are a pretty fundamental concept. We use them all the time. And computers use them all the time. But parsing dates using JavaScript can be a little...well, interesting.

In this article, we'll:

  1. Discuss date formatting
  2. Turn a wee ol' string into a proper date object using JavaScript.
  3. Parse a date object into a number
  4. Show an alternative way to use arguments instead of strings to create a date object.

Dates are tricky, but they're also incredibly helpful to use. And once you spend a little time going over the basics, your confidence will grow.


What is the Date Format in JavaScript?

ISO 8601, of course! This is the name of the international standard for communicating date and time data. We need to be using this format when dealing with dates in JavaScript

Here's what this format looks like. You're familiar with it already – it just combines a date and time into one big piece of info that JavaScript can get cozy with.

// YYYY-MM-DDTHH:mm:ss.sssZ
// A date string in ISO 8601 Date Format

How to Use the new Date() Constructor in JavaScript

new Date() is the constructor to create a new date in JavaScript. Shocker! 😂

shocker If you don't pass anything into the new date constructor, it will give you a date object of whatever the current date and time is.

new Date()
// Thu Jun 23 2022 20:35:51 GMT-0400 (Eastern Daylight Time)

A new date created without any arguments returns the current date and time. Note that a date object can, and often should, contain a time down to the millisecond in addition to the month, day, and year.

How to Create a New Date With a String

You may pass a date string into new Date() to create a date object.

You don't have to specify a time when creating a date object.

new Date('2022-06-13') is perfectly valid. However, when you console log this new date, you'll see that a time will be automatically assigned even though we didn't declare one.

let aDate = new Date('2022-06-13')
// Sun Jun 12 2022 20:00:00 GMT-0400 (Eastern Daylight Time)

A string date without a declared time will still be assigned one.

This can create schisms in the matrix, and it is best to include a full date. For instance, since the local system time is used to interpret the date, depending upon where in the world your computer is, you could get different results from the same non-specific date.


So, when passing a string into new Date(), use a full date with hours:minutes.milliseconds.

A capital T separates the day component from the time component as shown below:

new Date('2022-05-14T07:06:05.123')
// Sat May 14 2022 07:06:05 GMT-0400 (Eastern Daylight Time)

Use the full day and time when possible

How to Create a New Date With a Number

You can also pass a number into a new Date() constructor. More on what the numbers represent below – but new Date(1656033105000), for instance, will return a legitimate date:

// Thu Jun 2022 21:12:06 GMT-0400 (Eastern Daylight Time)

Giant numbers represent dates too

How to Create a New Date With Arguments

More on this below too...You many pass up to seven arguments into new Date() as well, creating a simpler way to represent a date and time to the Date constructor.

new Date(2022,03,14,07,33,245)
// Thu Apr 14 2022 07:37:05 GMT-0400 (Eastern Daylight Time)

A descending list of arguments starting with the year and ending with milliseconds

What is Date.parse()?

So, an interesting thing happens if you were to use the parse method on a date object. It spits out a huge number.

Date.parse() tells us the number of milliseconds that have elapsed since January 1, 1970. This is helpful when comparing multiple dates. It's easier to compare and measure differences in dates when they are converted to numbers rather than strings.

let anotherDate = new Date(2012,07,12,12,00,234)
// 1344787434000

Date.parse returns the number of milliseconds since January 1, 1970

Which is Better – Dates Made With Arguments or Strings?

When dating, learn to argue well for long term success. When using dates in JavaScript, use arguments over strings for long term success.

new Date(2022, 00, 12, 8, 01, 33, 456)

This can be a bit easier than creating a date using a string. The arguments are simply entered in descending order starting with the year, and ending with the milliseconds.

Only tricky part here: the month is zero indexed. So, January is 00.

new Date(2022,00,12,8,01,33,456)
// Wed Jan 12 2022 08:01:33 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time)

Don't forget that the month is zero indexed when using arguments for date construction

How to Go Deeper With Javascript Dates

This only scratches the surface of the Date object. Check out MDN for a deep dive. As with all things, there is a treasure trove of information there.


You've got the basics now, though. Go put it into practice. You now know how to create a date object in JavaScript with new Date(). You can grab the current date and time by not passing anything into the constructor, or you can pass in a string, a number or arguments.

Thanks for Reading Thanks for reading! I write about design and development here:

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Have a great one!


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