Java: Date Data Type

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  • 0:04 Java Date
  • 1:42 Examples
  • 4:44 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Martin Gibbs

Martin has 16 years experience in Human Resources Information Systems and has a PhD in Information Technology Management. He is an adjunct professor of computer science and computer programming.

A Date in Java is more than just a data type. It's also a class, with its own methods available. This lesson will provide an overview and syntax of Java Dates.

Java Date

The Date in Java is not only a data type, like int or float, but a class. This means it has its own methods available for use.

A Date in Java also includes the time, the year, the name of the day of the week, and the time zone. One of its methods includes extracting the time from the Date object.

Note: In order for this to work, you need to make sure to bring in the Java Date package. At the start of the program, use the import command to do this code:

Java Date Package

Next, let's declare a new date. Since the Date is a class, we need to create a new object of the class by using the new keyword when declaring the variable. The syntax below declares a new Date data type/object. This basic statement will default to the current date.

Java Date Basic

If we display the output of this variable as is, it might look something like Mon Jul 18 20:25:48 CDT 2016. Here we see the time as well as the local time zone.

Let's pause for a second to make note on Java years, months, and days. Java stores the parts of the date a little differently than you'd think. In one of our examples appearing in this table below, we hard-code the date to 2017, but the value we put in is 117. This is because Java saves the years as an integer value of x - 1900. Therefore 2017 - 1900 equals 117. The table below shows other important information regarding the date parts:

Date Part Java Value Notes
Year x - 1900 ex: 2018 = 118; 2018-1900 = 118
Month integer from 0 to 11 January = 0; February 1, etc.
Day integer from 1 to 31 Normal representation
Hour integer from 0 to 23 Midnight is 0
Minute integer from 0 to 59
Second integer from 0 to 61 60 and 61 are used for leap calcualtions


A very common programming function is the comparison of dates. Before we can show this comparison, however, we need to understand how Java stores dates.

1. Example: Seconds Since 1/1/1970

Java keeps time from January 1, 1970, storing this as the number of milliseconds since that date. As such, this value is a long data type. Why would this number be of interest?

Working with dates can create some challenges to the programmer. How many days are there between March 5, 1983 and June 7, 1995, for instance? If you simply subtracted these dates, you'd probably get a wrong answer, due to leap years. Because we have the number of milliseconds since 1/1/1970, the calculations are much more precise.

In order to get this number, we can invoke the getTime() method within the Date class. From our previous example, let's get the current number of milliseconds:

Java Date Get Time

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