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Javascript utilities for formatting and updating dates in FT style
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o-date Build Status MIT licensed

o-date provides javascript utilities for formatting and updating dates in FT style. This component is mainly useful when you want your dates formatted to express relative time.


Browser support

This module has been verified in Internet Explorer 8+, modern desktop browsers (Chrome, Safari, Firefox, ...) and mobile browsers (Android browser, iOS safari, Chrome mobile).


To provide the best non-JS fallback you should markup your dates as follows:

<time data-o-component="o-date" class="o-date" datetime="{{iso8601String}}">{FT formatted date (including time if appropriate)}</time>


To display dates in the standard relative time format, a o.DOMContentLoaded event can be dispatched on the document to auto-construct each element with a data-o-component="o-date" attribute:

document.addEventListener('DOMContentLoaded', function() {
    document.dispatchEvent(new CustomEvent('o.DOMContentLoaded'));

You can also import o-date as a module.

import ODate from 'o-date'

You can run ODate.init() once the DOM has loaded if you don't want to initialise other modules at the same time.

Run ODate.init(el) on any elements containing dates that are added to the page after DOM load, and if you keep a reference to the returned object you can clean them up with oDateItem.destroy() to stop processing.

o-date#format(date, tpl)

Returns a date formatted as a string

  • date: A javascript Date object or a valid string to pass to the Date constructor
  • tpl: A string specifying what format to output the date in:
    • 'datetime': formats the date in the standard FT long format, including the time. E.g. May 15, 2014 8:10 am
    • 'date': formats the date in the standard FT long format. E.g. May 15, 2014
    • Any other string using widespread conventions for time/date placeholders, which will be replaced with values extracted from the date provided. See ./main.js for an up to date list of supported formats. To avoid e.g. the mm in common being replaced with the month prefix with a double backslash co\\mmon i.e. In most cases custom date formats should not be used, in favour of the standard FT date and datetime formats


Returns the relative time since the given date, formatted as a human readable string e.g. 13 minutes ago.


Returns relative time or timestamp for a given date, in accordance with FT date formatting conventions.

  • date: A javascript Date object or a valid string to pass to the Date constructor


Returns 'yesterday', 'today' or '' for a given date. You can request this formatting for o-date components by adding data-o-date-format="today-or-yesterday-or-nothing".

  • date: A javascript Date object or a valid string to pass to the Date constructor


Within a given container element, converts dates to ftTime (see above) and periodically updates their values. Within the container all <time> elements with o-date in data-o-component will be updated. If a given <time> element contains an element with the class o-date__printer the relative time will be output here, otherwise it will replace the contents of the entire <time> element. Once the <time> element has been formatted by o-date, the attribute data-o-date-js is added, enabling conditional styling and/or hiding the date until it is correctly formatted.

  • el: An HTMLElement within which to scan for o-date elements. If the element itself is a <time> element with o-date in data-o-component, then o-date will run directly on this element rather than querying for suitable elements within it.

If the el is a valid <time> element, the resulting o-date instance will be returned; otherwise, an array of created instances will be returned.


Call on any instances to stop processing date updates and release the item reference.


See the npm package @financial-times/ft-date-format for server-side date formatting. Note: It's not recommended to output the 'time ago' server side as it will not be cacheable and will not update in the browser if the user leaves the page open for a prolonged period of time.


If you have any questions or comments about this component, or need help using it, please either raise an issue, visit #ft-origami or email Origami Support.


This software is published by the Financial Times under the MIT licence.

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