JavaScript Basics: Date Object - A Comprehensive Guide for Beginners

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3 min read

Understanding and manipulating dates and times is a critical skill in many JavaScript applications, whether it's scheduling events, calculating time spans, or simply displaying a date to a user. Luckily, JavaScript provides a built-in Date object that simplifies working with dates and times. In this post, we'll delve into the basics and some handy methods of the JavaScript Date object.

What is the JavaScript Date Object?

The Date object is a built-in object in JavaScript that allows you to create, access, and manipulate dates. It can parse dates as strings or numbers, but internally, it stores dates as the number of milliseconds since the Unix Epoch (January 1, 1970, 00:00:00 UTC).

Creating a Date Object

You can create a Date object using the new keyword followed by Date(). The Date object can be constructed with four different sets of arguments:

let date1 = new Date(); // current date and time
let date2 = new Date(year, month, day, hours, minutes, seconds, milliseconds); // specified date and time
let date3 = new Date(milliseconds); // number of milliseconds since Unix Epoch
let date4 = new Date(dateString); // date string in a format recognized by the Date.parse() method

Please note that month in JavaScript is zero-based, meaning that January is 0 and December is 11.

Date Methods

The Date object comes with a variety of methods to get and set different parts of the date and time, and to convert the date to a string in various formats.

Get Methods

These methods are used to get parts of a date:

let date = new Date();

date.getFullYear(); // Get the four-digit year
date.getMonth(); // Get the month as a number (0-11)
date.getDate(); // Get the day as a number (1-31)
date.getHours(); // Get the hour (0-23)
date.getMinutes(); // Get the minute (0-59)
date.getSeconds(); // Get the second (0-59)
date.getMilliseconds(); // Get the millisecond (0-999)
date.getTime(); // Get the time (milliseconds since January 1, 1970)

Set Methods

These methods are used to set parts of a date:

let date = new Date();

date.setFullYear(year); // Set the year 
date.setMonth(month); // Set the month 
date.setDate(day); // Set the day of the month 
date.setHours(hours); // Set the hours 
date.setMinutes(minutes); // Set the minutes 
date.setSeconds(seconds); // Set the seconds 
date.setMilliseconds(milliseconds); // Set the milliseconds
date.setTime(milliseconds); // Set the time

Conversion Methods

These methods are used to convert a Date object to a string:

let date = new Date();

date.toString(); // Convert a Date object to a string
date.toUTCString(); // Convert a Date object to a string, according to universal time
date.toISOString(); // Returns the date as a string, using the ISO standard
date.toJSON(); // Returns the date as a string, formatted as a JSON date

Conclusion

The JavaScript Date object is a powerful tool for working with dates and times. While we've only scratched the surface here, you should now have a good understanding of how to create and manipulate dates with JavaScript. Keep practicing these methods and exploring additional ones as you continue to master the JavaScript language. Happy coding!

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