Date Formats

Dates come in multiple formats:

  • a Unix timestamp (1481884441)
  • an ISO 8601 string (2016-11-04T17:39:59.910Z)
  • a locale string (Thursday, December 20, 2012, GMT)

Let’s get started by defining some variables to use in our examples

const UNIX = 1481884441
const ISO8601 = '2016-11-04T17:39:59.910Z'
const invalidISO = '2016-31-31T17:39:59.910Z'
const invalidDate = '2016/31/31'

let date = // is faster than new Date() vs. new Date()

Note that while is faster in performance than new Date(), it gives a number value (epoch/unix time) instead of a Date object. So, you won’t be able to do something like because .toLocaleDateString() only works on a Date object.

typeof new Date() // "object"
typeof // "number"

new Date().toLocaleDateString() // "28/03/2017" // Uncaught TypeError: is not a function

Check if value is a valid date


You can use moment.js and it’s isValid() to see if the value is a valid date

import moment from 'moment'

moment.unix(UNIX).isValid() // check unix timestamps
moment(ISO8601).isValid() // check date strings

Validating dates with vanilla JS is a bit tricky because of the multiple date fromats.

Validate Date Strings

You can use Date.parse() to check if the value is a valid date string. It gives the Unix timestamp if valid date string and NaN if the string is unrecognized or contains illegal date values (e.g. February 31?)

To check is the output is Nan, you can use the isNaN function (Date.prase(x) === NaN doesn’t work for some reason)

function isDateString (x) {
  return isNaN(Date.parse(x)) ? false : true

isDateString(UNIX) ?'hell yeah') :'neh') // "neh"
isDateString(ISO8601) ?'hell yeah') :'neh') // "hell yeah"

Date.parse() is no good for validating Unix timestamps.

Validate Unix Timestamps

The trick is to convert the timestamp to date object first and validate that. Since JS works in milliseconds, you need to convert the timestamp (seconds) to milliseconds first (by multiplying it with 1000)

function isUnixTimestamp (x) {
  let timestamp = x * 1000
  let time = new Date(timestamp)

  return isNaN(Date.parse(time)) ? false : true

isUnixTimestamp(UNIX) ?'timestamp') :'neh') // "timestamp"
isUnixTimestamp(ISO8601) ?'timestamp') :'neh') // "neh"
isUnixTimestamp(invalidISO) ?'timestamp') :'neh') // "neh"

We can combine both of the above function to make a isValidDate function.

function isValidDate (x) {
  return isDateString(x) || isUnixTimestamp(x) ? true : false

sValidDate(UNIX) ?'valid date') :'nope') // "valid date"
isValidDate(ISO8601) ?'valid date') :'nope') // "valid date"
isValidDate(invalidISO) ?'valid date') :'nope') // "nope"
isValidDate(invalidDate) ?'valid date') :'nope') // "nope"
isValidDate('abc') ?'valid date') :'nope') // "nope"

Note that there are going to be some edge cases with this:

// 123 is a valid date
isValidDate('123') ?'valid date') :'nope') // "valid date" 123 is a valid timestamp!

// Checking for 31st of Feb (this will give different values based on locale date format)
isValidDate('2016/02/31') ?'valid date') :'nope') // "valid date"
isValidDate('2016/31/02') ?'valid date') :'nope') // "nope"

Formatting dates with Locale strings

toLocaleString() let’s you format a date using the locale settings. Locales let you specify the language whose formatting conventipons should be used. Different locales have different conventions for writing dates, for example en-US uses 12-hour time with AM/PM while en-GB uses 24-hour format. en-US has month first and then date, while en-gb has date first and then month. You can customize the format for the locale string.'en-us', date.toLocaleString('en-us')) // "1/10/2017, 3:29:15 PM"'en-GB', date.toLocaleString('en-GB')) // "10/01/2017, 15:29:15"'ar-EG', date.toLocaleString('ar-EG')) // "١٠‏/١‏/٢٠١٧ ٣:٣٢:٣٣ م"'de-DE', date.toLocaleString('de-DE')) // "10.1.2017, 15:32:33"

You can further customize the locale string by passing it an options argument (object).

let localeStringOptions = {
  weekday: 'long',
  month: 'long',
  day: 'numeric',
  year: 'numeric'
}'en-us', date.toLocaleString('en-us', localeStringOptions)) // "Tuesday, January 10, 2017"'en-GB', date.toLocaleString('en-GB', localeStringOptions)) // "Tuesday, 10 January 2017"'ar-EG', date.toLocaleString('ar-EG', localeStringOptions)) // "الثلاثاء، ١٠ يناير، ٢٠١٧"'de-DE', date.toLocaleString('de-DE', localeStringOptions)) // "Dienstag, 10. Januar 2017"

Furthermore, you can detect the locale of the browser with navigator.language and navigator.userLanguage, like this:

let locale = navigator.language || navigator.userLanguage'month', date.toLocaleString(locale, {month: 'long'})) // "January"

For example, get the month name (e.g. Jan) using toLocaleString

let time = new Date('2016-11-04T17:39:59.910Z')

let localeString = time.toLocaleString('en-US', {month: 'short'}) // Nov


  • is faster than new Date() since you don’t have to instantiate a new Date object. stackoverflow jsperf