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Working with Dates and Time Zones in Freemarker

There are times when we need to display dates in a certain format. Things that we may want to format the dates displayed are dates in Email templates, dates in web pages, etc. Freemarker has built-ins for dates to help with formatting displays. To use a built-in, you need to use a ?, then the built-in.

Let’s look at some examples on how to use the Freemarker date built-ins. We’ll use a project created by using the Website_editorial blueprint.

First, let’s set the time zone in Crafter Engine. From the Sidebar, click on projectTools, then click on Configuration. Select Engine Project Configuration from the dropdown list, then enter the following into the configuration:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>

We can now use the time zone we specified in the Engine Project Configuration file. To access the time zone from the configuration, we use the freemarker variable siteConfig provided by Crafter Engine to templates. For more information on other variables available in the template, please see FreeMarker (Templating) API

We’ll now edit the article.ftl template file, to display the date/time the article was created.

Using Freemarker Date Built-ins

To display just the date, no time, on when the article was created, we can access the contentModel variable date_dt, and add to the template under the author:

<h2>by ${contentModel.author!""}</h2>

Which will display the following:

Top Books For Young Women
by Jane Doe
Dec 28, 2016

To display the date and time:


Which will output this:


To display the date and time with some formatting:

<h3>${contentModel.date_dt?datetime?string["EEEE, MMMM dd, yyyy, hh:mm a '('zzz')'"]}</h3>

Which will output this:

Wednesday, December 28, 2016, 05:00 AM (UTC)

As you can see from the last two examples, the date and time the article was created is in UTC. If we want to display it in the time zone specified in the Engine Project Configuration file, do the following:


Which will output this:


Using the Freemarker time_zone and date_time Setting

If we want to set the time zone used by the template to display dates, Freemarker provides a time_zone setting. Once you set the time zone, all date displays will be in the time zone specified. Let’s set all the date and time display in the time zone we specified in the Engine Project Config file.

<#setting time_zone = siteConfig.getString("timeZone")>

Which will display:


If we want all date and time displays to follow a certain format, we can use the datetime_format setting.

<#setting datetime_format = "EEEE, MMMM dd, yyyy, hh:mm a '('zzz')'">

Which will display the same time as the previous example, but in the format specified:

Tuesday, December 27, 2016, 09:00 PM (PST)

For more information on Freemarker date built-ins, see http://freemarker.org/docs/ref_builtins_date.html For more information on Freemarker directive setting, see http://freemarker.org/docs/ref_directive_setting.html