Handling fractions of seconds in strftime/strptime

Discussion in 'Python' started by skip@pobox.com, Jan 15, 2005.

  1. Guest

    I'm looking for a solution (or ideas about a solution) to the problem
    that strftime(3) and strptime(3) don't understand time increments of
    less than one second. Most operating systems can provide times with
    subsecond resolution and like Python I'm pretty sure Ruby, Perl and
    Tcl have objects or packages that can manipulate such times in a sane
    manner. I'm casting my net to a broader community than just Python
    (where I generally hang out) to see if/how others have addressed this

    Here's my typical use case. I generate log files with subsecond
    resolution using Python's datetime module. By default it generates
    printable timestamps in an ISO format that includes fractions of
    seconds, e.g., "2005-01-14 18:56:54.546607". I often need to parse
    such times, and therein lies the rub. Python's date parsing is based
    on strptime(3) which can't handle fractions of seconds. I wind up
    worming around the problem with a little hackery, but it bothers me
    that given an otherwise complete solution to formatting and parsing
    times I can't handle this common (for me) case.

    I realize that other languages may not base their current time
    formatting and parsing on strftime(3) and strptime(3), but I suspect
    those two functions were at least the root of what is commonly used by
    most languages. In my investigation I came across a DateTime module
    in Perl that uses "%N" (or optionally "%nN" where n is a digit) to
    identify integers as nanoseconds or some other subsecond time. I
    belive "%3N" would cause "123" to be interpreted as 123 milliseconds,
    for instance. I've considered extending "%S" to accept fractional
    seconds or adding a new format specifier like "%F" to handle this

    I'm interested to know what solutions have been devised or considered
    for other languages. (Has this been addressed in some more recent
    version of the C or C++ standards I'm unaware of?) Rather than
    reinventing the wheel I'd like to adopt an existing solution if
    possible. At the very least I'd like to know how others have
    approached the problem. I think there's an opportunity to add some
    value that everyone can take advantage of.
    Thanks for your time,

    Skip Montanaro
    , Jan 15, 2005
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