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60], ["second", 60]]
 elapsed = - date
 tense = elapsed > 0 ? "since" : "until"
 interval = 1.0
 parts = intervals.collect do |name, new_interval|
 interval /= new_interval
 number, elapsed = elapsed.abs.divmod(interval)
 "#{number.to_i} #{name}#{"s" unless number == 1}"
 puts "#{parts.join(", ")} #{tense} #{event}."
remaining(, 4, 15, 0, 0, 0,,
 "the book deadline")
# 27 days, 4 hours, 16 minutes, 9 seconds until the book deadline.
remaining(, 4, 23, 8, 0, 0,,
 "the Math 114A final")
# 2521 days, 11 hours, 43 minutes, 50 seconds since the Math 114A final.
See Also
\u2022 Recipe 3.5, \u201cDoing Date Arithmetic\u201d
3.7 Converting Between Time Zones
You want to change a time object so that it represents the same moment of time in
some other time zone.
The most common time zone conversions are the conversion of system local time to
UTC, and the conversion of UTC to local time. These conversions are easy for both
Time and DateTime objects.
The Time#gmtime method modifies a Time object in place, converting it to UTC. The
Time#localtime method converts in the opposite direction:
3.7 Converting Between Time Zones | 107
now = # => Sat Mar 18 20:15:58 EST 2006
now = now.gmtime # => Sun Mar 19 01:15:58 UTC 2006
now = now.localtime # => Sat Mar 18 20:15:58 EST 2006
The DateTime.new_offset method converts a DateTime object from one time zone to
another. You must pass in the dstination time zone\u2019s offset from UTC; to convert local
time to UTC, pass in zero. Since DateTime objects are immutable, this method creates a
new object identical to the old DateTime object, except for the time zone offset:
require 'date'
local =
local.to_s # => "2006-03-18T20:15:58-0500"
utc = local.new_offset(0)
utc.to_s # => "2006-03-19T01:15:58Z"
To convert a UTC DateTime object to local time, you\u2019ll need to call DateTime#new_
offset and pass in the numeric offset for your local time zone. The easiest way to get
this offset is to call offset on a DateTime object known to be in local time. The offset
will usually be a rational number with a denominator of 24:
local =
utc = local.new_offset
local.offset # => Rational(-5, 24)
local_from_utc = utc.new_offset(local.offset)
local_from_utc.to_s # => "2006-03-18T20:15:58-0500"
local == local_from_utc # => true
Time objects created with, Time.local, Time.mktime,, and
are created using the current system time zone. Time objects created with and
Time.utc are created using the UTC time zone. Time objects can represent any time
zone, but it\u2019s difficult to use a time zone with Time other than local time or UTC.
Suppose you need to convert local time to some time zone other than UTC. If you
know the UTC offset for the destination time zone, you can represent it as a fraction
of a day and pass it into DateTime#new_offset:
#Convert local (Eastern) time to Pacific time
eastern =
eastern.to_s # => "2006-03-18T20:15:58-0500"
pacific_offset = Rational(-7, 24)
pacific = eastern.new_offset(pacific_offset)
pacific.to_s # => "2006-03-18T18:15:58-0700"
DateTime#new_offset can convert between arbitrary time zone offsets, so for time
zone conversions, it\u2019s easiest to use DateTime objects and convert back to Time objects
if necessary. But DateTime objects only understand time zones in terms of numeric
UTC offsets. How can you convert a date and time to UTC when all you know is
that the time zone is called \u201cWET\u201d, \u201cZulu\u201d, or \u201cAsia/Taskent\u201d?
108 | Chapter 3: Date and Time
On Unix systems, you can temporarily change the \u201csystem\u201d time zone for the cur-
rent process. The C library underlying the Time class knows about an enormous
number of time zones (this \u201czoneinfo\u201d database is usually located in /usr/share/
zoneinfo/, if you want to look at the available time zones). You can tap this knowl-
edge by setting the environment variable TZ to an appropriate value, forcing the Time
class to act as though your computer were in some other time zone. Here\u2019s a method
that uses this trick to convert a Time object to any time zone supported by the under-
lying C library:
class Time
 def convert_zone(to_zone)
 original_zone = ENV["TZ"]
 utc_time = dup.gmtime
 ENV["TZ"] = to_zone
 to_zone_time = utc_time.localtime
 ENV["TZ"] = original_zone
 return to_zone_time
Let\u2019s do a number of conversions of a local (Eastern) time to other time zones across
the world:
t = # => Sat Sep 08 21:46:40 EDT 2001
t.convert_zone("US/Pacific") # => Sat Sep 08 18:46:40 PDT 2001
t.convert_zone("US/Alaska") # => Sat Sep 08 17:46:40 AKDT 2001
t.convert_zone("UTC") # => Sun Sep 09 01:46:40 UTC 2001
t.convert_zone("Turkey") # => Sun Sep 09 04:46:40 EEST 2001
Note that some time zones, like India\u2019s, are half an hour offset from most others:
t.convert_zone("Asia/Calcutta") # => Sun Sep 09 07:16:40 IST 2001
By setting the TZ environment variable before creating a Time object, you can repre-
sent the time in any time zone. The following code converts Lagos time to Singapore
time, regardless of the \u201creal\u201d underlying time zone.
ENV["TZ"] = "Africa/Lagos"
t = # => Sun Sep 09 02:46:40 WAT 2001
ENV["TZ"] = nil
t.convert_zone("Singapore") # => Sun Sep 09 09:46:40 SGT 2001
# Just to prove it's the same time as before:
t.convert_zone("US/Eastern") # => Sat Sep 08 21:46:40 EDT 2001
Since the TZ environment variable is global to a process, you\u2019ll run into problems if
you have multiple threads trying to convert time zones at once.
3.8 Checking Whether Daylight Saving Time Is in Effect | 109
See Also
\u2022 Recipe 3.9, \u201cConverting Between Time and DateTime Objects\u201d
\u2022 Recipe 3.8, \u201cChecking Whether Daylight Saving Time Is in Effect\u201d
\u2022 Information on the \u201czoneinfo\u201d database (
3.8 Checking Whether Daylight Saving Time
Is in Effect
You want to see whether the current time in your locale is normal time or Daylight
Saving/Summer Time.
Create a Time object and check its isdst method:
Time.local(2006, 1, 1) # => Sun Jan 01 00:00:00 EST 2006
Time.local(2006, 1, 1).isdst # => false
Time.local(2006, 10, 1) # => Sun Oct 01 00:00:00 EDT 2006
Time.local(2006, 10, 1).isdst # => true
Time objects representing UTC times will always return false when isdst is called,
because UTC is the same year-round. Other Time objects will consult the daylight
saving time rules for the time locale used to create the Time object. This is usually the
sysem locale on the computer you used to create it: see Recipe 3.7 for information on
changing it. The following code demonstrates some of the rules pertaining to Day-
light Saving Time across the United States:
eastern = Time.local(2006, 10, 1) # => Sun Oct 01 00:00:00 EDT 2006
eastern.isdst # => true
ENV['TZ'] = 'US/Pacific'
pacific = Time.local(2006, 10, 1) # => Sun Oct 01 00:00:00 PDT 2006
pacific.isdst # => true
# Except for the Navajo Nation, Arizona doesn't use Daylight Saving Time.
ENV['TZ'] = 'America/Phoenix'
arizona = Time.local(2006, 10, 1) # => Sun Oct 01 00:00:00 MST 2006
arizona.isdst # => false
# Finally, restore the original time zone.
ENV['TZ'] = nil
The C library on which Ruby\u2019s Time class is based handles the complex rules for Day-
light Saving Time across