Calculate relative time in C# – Dev

The best answers to the question “Calculate relative time in C#” in the category Dev.

QUESTION:

Given a specific DateTime value, how do I display relative time, like:

  • 2 hours ago
  • 3 days ago
  • a month ago

ANSWER:

jquery.timeago plugin

Jeff, because Stack Overflow uses jQuery extensively, I recommend the jquery.timeago plugin.

Benefits:

  • Avoid timestamps dated “1 minute ago” even though the page was opened 10 minutes ago; timeago refreshes automatically.
  • You can take full advantage of page and/or fragment caching in your web applications, because the timestamps aren’t calculated on the server.
  • You get to use microformats like the cool kids.

Just attach it to your timestamps on DOM ready:

jQuery(document).ready(function() {
    jQuery('abbr.timeago').timeago();
});

This will turn all abbr elements with a class of timeago and an ISO 8601 timestamp in the title:

<abbr class="timeago" title="2008-07-17T09:24:17Z">July 17, 2008</abbr>

into something like this:

<abbr class="timeago" title="July 17, 2008">4 months ago</abbr>

which yields: 4 months ago. As time passes, the timestamps will automatically update.

Disclaimer: I wrote this plugin, so I’m biased.

ANSWER:

Jeff, your code is nice but could be clearer with constants (as suggested in Code Complete).

const int SECOND = 1;
const int MINUTE = 60 * SECOND;
const int HOUR = 60 * MINUTE;
const int DAY = 24 * HOUR;
const int MONTH = 30 * DAY;

var ts = new TimeSpan(DateTime.UtcNow.Ticks - yourDate.Ticks);
double delta = Math.Abs(ts.TotalSeconds);

if (delta < 1 * MINUTE)
  return ts.Seconds == 1 ? "one second ago" : ts.Seconds + " seconds ago";

if (delta < 2 * MINUTE)
  return "a minute ago";

if (delta < 45 * MINUTE)
  return ts.Minutes + " minutes ago";

if (delta < 90 * MINUTE)
  return "an hour ago";

if (delta < 24 * HOUR)
  return ts.Hours + " hours ago";

if (delta < 48 * HOUR)
  return "yesterday";

if (delta < 30 * DAY)
  return ts.Days + " days ago";

if (delta < 12 * MONTH)
{
  int months = Convert.ToInt32(Math.Floor((double)ts.Days / 30));
  return months <= 1 ? "one month ago" : months + " months ago";
}
else
{
  int years = Convert.ToInt32(Math.Floor((double)ts.Days / 365));
  return years <= 1 ? "one year ago" : years + " years ago";
}

ANSWER:

public static string RelativeDate(DateTime theDate)
{
    Dictionary<long, string> thresholds = new Dictionary<long, string>();
    int minute = 60;
    int hour = 60 * minute;
    int day = 24 * hour;
    thresholds.Add(60, "{0} seconds ago");
    thresholds.Add(minute * 2, "a minute ago");
    thresholds.Add(45 * minute, "{0} minutes ago");
    thresholds.Add(120 * minute, "an hour ago");
    thresholds.Add(day, "{0} hours ago");
    thresholds.Add(day * 2, "yesterday");
    thresholds.Add(day * 30, "{0} days ago");
    thresholds.Add(day * 365, "{0} months ago");
    thresholds.Add(long.MaxValue, "{0} years ago");
    long since = (DateTime.Now.Ticks - theDate.Ticks) / 10000000;
    foreach (long threshold in thresholds.Keys) 
    {
        if (since < threshold) 
        {
            TimeSpan t = new TimeSpan((DateTime.Now.Ticks - theDate.Ticks));
            return string.Format(thresholds[threshold], (t.Days > 365 ? t.Days / 365 : (t.Days > 0 ? t.Days : (t.Hours > 0 ? t.Hours : (t.Minutes > 0 ? t.Minutes : (t.Seconds > 0 ? t.Seconds : 0))))).ToString());
        }
    }
    return "";
}

I prefer this version for its conciseness, and ability to add in new tick points.
This could be encapsulated with a Latest() extension to Timespan instead of that long 1 liner, but for the sake of brevity in posting, this will do.
This fixes the an hour ago, 1 hours ago, by providing an hour until 2 hours have elapsed

ANSWER:

Here’s how I do it

var ts = new TimeSpan(DateTime.UtcNow.Ticks - dt.Ticks);
double delta = Math.Abs(ts.TotalSeconds);

if (delta < 60)
{
  return ts.Seconds == 1 ? "one second ago" : ts.Seconds + " seconds ago";
}
if (delta < 60 * 2)
{
  return "a minute ago";
}
if (delta < 45 * 60)
{
  return ts.Minutes + " minutes ago";
}
if (delta < 90 * 60)
{
  return "an hour ago";
}
if (delta < 24 * 60 * 60)
{
  return ts.Hours + " hours ago";
}
if (delta < 48 * 60 * 60)
{
  return "yesterday";
}
if (delta < 30 * 24 * 60 * 60)
{
  return ts.Days + " days ago";
}
if (delta < 12 * 30 * 24 * 60 * 60)
{
  int months = Convert.ToInt32(Math.Floor((double)ts.Days / 30));
  return months <= 1 ? "one month ago" : months + " months ago";
}
int years = Convert.ToInt32(Math.Floor((double)ts.Days / 365));
return years <= 1 ? "one year ago" : years + " years ago";

Suggestions? Comments? Ways to improve this algorithm?