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One of the latest features I’ve added to my sports fishing portal was the nice date feature. Instead of showing PHP formatted date and time, I wanted to display time since the action took place, like “4 hours ago”, “2 days ago”, “1 minute ago” and so on.

<?php
function nicetime($date) {
    if(empty($date)) {
        return "ERROR: No date provided";
    }

    $periods = array("second", "minute", "hour", "day", "week", "month", "year", "decade");
    $lengths = array("60", "60", "24", "7", "4.35", "12", "10");
    $now = time();
    $unix_date = strtotime($date);

    // check validity of date
    if(empty($unix_date)) {
        return "ERROR: Invalid date";
    }

    // is it future date or past date
    if($now > $unix_date) {
        $difference = $now - $unix_date;
        $tense = "ago";
    } else {
        $difference = $unix_date - $now;
        $tense = "from now";
    }
    for($j = 0; $difference >= $lengths[$j] && $j < count($lengths)-1; $j++) {
        $difference /= $lengths[$j];
    }
    $difference = round($difference);
    if($difference != 1) {
        // $periods[$j] .= "s"; // plural for English language
        $periods = array("seconds", "minutes", "hours", "days", "weeks", "months", "years", "decades"); // plural for international words
    }

    return "$difference $periods[$j] {$tense}";
}
?>

Use <?php echo nicetime($date);?> to call the function, where $date is a variable holding your desired date, properly formattedĀ in PHP/MySQL. You can also pass a date directly using the standard format – date('Y-m-d G:i:s'), but for obvious reasons it’s better to prior assign it to a fixed variable.


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