Wednesday, September 26, 2012

JavaScript date time localization e.g. central time to other time zone

Recently I had a requirement of doing JavaScript time localization. Problem statement goes like this-

"We have some data in central time (CST) in database. This data is basically a Gantt chart data. The database date time entry is there as CST because of the business lies in that region and there are many other business requirements. This data is presented as Gantt chart in web and people from many countries can see the chart and each one should see the data in their own localized time."

I have searched in web and could not get a direct content to the problem. So, thought to share the approach I have followed. We can solve this problem by following steps-
  1. Convert the source time to UTC time.
  2. And convert the UTC time to destination time.
Now for we need to be careful that whether the time zone has daylight-saving. As stated previously our source data in CST which is -06:00(offset) hours compared to UTC. In case of daylight saving its -05:00 hours. Let’s take a time 09/24/2012 14:00:00, this is a CST time. In this case the date falls under daylight-saving.

Now we need to get two things about the source system: - first- Date offset and second- is daylight-saving. As my IIS where the application is hosted is in CST time zone, we can get this information from application start event. Here I have decided to write the information to an xml file in the following format-
So, in the Application_Start we can get this information.
XmlTextWriter myXmlWriterTime = new XmlTextWriter("file path", null);
myXmlWriterTime.Formatting = Formatting.Indented;
myXmlWriterTime.Indentation = 4;
myXmlWriterTime.WriteElementString(Constants.TimeOffset, (DateTime.Now- DateTime.UtcNow).TotalHours.ToString());
In case of time offset it will always return -6.0 for CST now if the daylight-saving is true we need to add 1 resulting -5.0.

In the page load of the page where I am showing the Gantt chart, just doing a synchronous ajax call to read the value in JavaScript object like below-
    type: "GET",
    url: "TimeOffset.xml",
    dataType: "xml",
    async: false,
    success: function (xml) {
        document.TimeOffset = parseFloat($(xml).find('TimeOffset').text());
        if ($(xml).find('IsDayLight').text() == "True")
            document.TimeOffset = document.TimeOffset + 1;
    error: function () {
        alert("An error occurred while processing XML file.");
Here it’s a specific case of CST. I have not tested where there is any time zone that needs a subtraction by 1.

I have created a function that will take a CST time and it will convert it to any time. In my case I am running the function from Indian time zone IST (+05:30). It goes like-
var cstArr;
function ConvertCSTTolocal(dateString) {
    //09/24/2012 14:00:00 CST
    cstArr = dateString.split(" ")[0].split("/");
    cstArr.push(dateString.split(" ")[1].split(":"))
    tmpDate = new Date(cstArr[2], parseInt(cstArr[0], 10) - 1, cstArr[1], cstArr[3][0], cstArr[3][1], cstArr[3][2]);
    tmpDate.setMinutes(tmpDate.getMinutes() - parseFloat(document.TimeOffset) * 60);

    tmpDate = tmpDate.toString().split(" ");
    tmpDate = tmpDate[0] + ", " + tmpDate[2] + " " + tmpDate[1] + " " + tmpDate[5] + " " + tmpDate[3] + " UTC";
    return new Date(tmpDate);
Now lets pass the input date to the function and see how the function goes. Our input is 09/24/2012 14:00:00 in CST. Lets investigate step by step-

cstArr = dateString.split(" ")[0].split("/"); cstArr.push(dateString.split(" ")[1].split(":"))

With these lines we are simply splitting the date string in year, month, day, hours, minutes, and seconds. And it looks like-

tmpDate = new Date(cstArr[2], parseInt(cstArr[0], 10) - 1, cstArr[1], cstArr[3][0], cstArr[3][1], cstArr[3][2]);

With these lines we are just passing the values to JavaScript Date function to create a date object. As I am in IST (+05:30) the resulting date is not the date as I have passed as input-

If you check the above date you can see it the same date and time as I have passed but UTC+05:30 is appended. Which means it’s the same time but in Indian time. If we convert this time to CST it will not be the same as passed input. But that’s not our intention. Our intention is to create a date and just add the offset to get the modified date and time.

tmpDate.setMinutes(tmpDate.getMinutes() - parseFloat(document.TimeOffset) * 60);

With this line we are just negating the time zone offset of the central time (CST) to get the new time. Is it really giving the UTC time? Answer is no as explained earlier.

Step 4-

In the above image we can see the added time which is correct time with wrong offset. If we convert the input time 09/24/2012 14:00:00 to UTC, it will be 09/24/2012 19:00:00 in UTC time ( +5) considering daylight-saving. So, the problem is with the offset. If we see the UTC equivalent of the time using toUTCString method then we can see the UTC representation is coming like "day, date month year hour:min:sec UTC".

Step 5-
As the data are same except the time offset, we can prepare a UTC equivalent string from tmpDate like below-

tmpDate = tmpDate[0] + ", " + tmpDate[2] + " " + tmpDate[1] + " " + tmpDate[5] + " " + tmpDate[3] + " UTC";

this results the following-

This is the correct UTC value. Now if we pass this UTC string to a Date() function, it will result correct value for the current time zone. For example if we run this code in IST it will result the following-

Which is exactly the same value of we convert 09/24/2012 14:00:00 CST time to IST.

That’s it, problem solved.


  1. Hi Anup,

    Looked at your blog and really found it interesting. Wanted to get in touch with you regarding an opportunity; can you pls share your email or send me a test email at akshay [at] ?

  2. There are various online sources to provide you informative details on this topic, but this is one is very helpful.

  3. below js code outputs 'Tue, 21 May 2013 06:57:39 GMT'

    var now = new Date();
    How can i remove GMT in using java script? Is there any UTC js methods avialble for this?

    Grep Command Examples in Linux/Unix

    1. Hi,

      You can use javascript substring method to remove GMT. I cannot find any method equivalent to UTC.

  4. i want just opposite,,means i want to convert GMT to can i solve this headaqe???

    praveen [at]