MeanwhileInHell MeanwhileInHell - 7 months ago 29
Java Question

Losing an hour when returning a January 1970 Date from milliseconds

I have the following code that takes a String of milliseconds (will be from an RSS feed so will be a String, the example below is a quick test program) and converts those millis into a Date object.

public static void main(String[] args) {
String ms = "1302805253";
SimpleDateFormat dateFormatter = new SimpleDateFormat("EEE, dd MMM yyyy HH:mm:ss zzz");
Calendar calendar = Calendar.getInstance();

try {
String dateFormat = dateFormatter.format(calendar.getTime());
System.out.println("Date Format = " + dateFormat);

Date dateParse = dateFormatter.parse(dateFormatter.format(calendar.getTime()));
System.out.println("Date Parse = " + dateParse);
} catch (ParseException e) {
// TODO: handle exception

Date Format = Fri, 16 Jan 1970 02:53:25 GMT
Date Parse = Fri Jan 16 03:53:25 GMT 1970

As you can see, between the formatting of the calendar object and parsing of the resulting String, an hour is being lost. Also, the formatting of the output has changed. Can anyone help me as to why this is happening, and how to get around it? I want the Date object to be the same format as the "Date Format" output.


I believe it's happening because the UK didn't actually use GMT in 1970, and Java has a bug around that... it will format a date in 1970 as if the UK were using GMT, but without actually changing the offset. Simple example:

Date date = new Date(0);
SimpleDateFormat sdf = new SimpleDateFormat("dd MMM yyyy HH:mm:ss zzz");


01 Jan 1970 01:00:00 GMT

Note that it claims it's 1am GMT... which is incorrect. It was 1am in Europe/London time, but Europe/London wasn't observing GMT.

Joda Time gets this right in that it prints out BST - but Joda Time doesn't like parsing values with time zone abbreviations. However, you can get it to use time zone offets instead:

import org.joda.time.*;
import org.joda.time.format.*;

public class Test {
    public static void main(String[] args) throws Exception {
        DateTime date = new DateTime(0, DateTimeZone.forID("Europe/London"));

        DateTimeFormatter formatter = DateTimeFormat.forPattern(
            "dd MMM yyyy HH:mm:ss Z");

        String text = formatter.print(date); // 01 Jan 1970 01:00:00 +0100

        DateTime parsed = formatter.parseDateTime(text);
        System.out.println(parsed.equals(date)); // true