How to convert a string to a time with PHP

Josh Sherman
1 min read
Software Development PHP

Converting a string to a timestamp is one of my favorite things about PHP. In fact when trying to decide which language to build [HolidayAPI][holidayapi] in I couldn’t find an implementation of PHP’s strtotime() that rivaled the original. The strtotime() function takes a textual string as input and then spits back a timestamp, which can then be used to generate a more human readable date time string.

Here are some examples of how you can use strtotime() to find out the date and time of relative strings:

strtotime('tomorrow');
strtotime('next Tuesday');
strtotime('3rd Thursday of Februrary');
strtotime('+90 days');
strtotime('July 4th, 2015 +2 weeks');

Not ever string works but quite a few do. Also the resulting timestamp is based on the current day unless you explicitly tell it a date, like my last example.

I recently found out about an interval that I didn’t realized worked. It’s the weekday keyword. Would come in handy when you need to calculate business days for say, shipping or something.

strtotime('today +7 weekdays');

As mentioned, this returns the UNIX timestamp but you can easily convert it to something more friendly with the date() function.

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