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American style month/day/year parsing for ruby 1.9

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ruby-american_date exists to make ruby versions greater than 1.8 parse american-style month/day/year dates correctly, just like ruby 1.8. It can also be used on ruby 1.8, but it is basically a noop there.

As far as I know, there isn't a gem that already handles this. You can find many snippets on the web that partially solve the issue, but most won't be compatible with ruby 1.9.3, because Date.parse and DateTime.parse no longer call Date._parse directly on 1.9.3. Also most don't handle cases where an american date format is used in addition to a time format.


The general idea is fairly simple. We just check the beginning of the input string for an american date format, and transform it into a year-month-day ISO format before passing it to the standard date parsing methods. This is probably the least invasive way that works correctly on both the pure-ruby date parser (<1.9.3) and the C extension date parser (>=1.9.3).

To reduce the possibility of problems, only the beginning of the input string is checked. So if you have an american date format embedded in the middle of the input string, it won't be translated. That may change in the future if it is determined to be safe.

Tested ruby versions

  • ruby 1.8.6, 1.8.7, 1.9.2, 1.9.3, 2.0.0

  • rubinius 1.2.4

  • jruby 1.6.5 (both –1.8 and –1.9 modes)


ruby-american_date is distributed as a gem, and can be installed with:

gem install american_date


ruby-american_date is hosted on GitHub:


ruby-american_date uses GitHub Issues for issue tracking:


Jeremy Evans <>

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