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SQL Working With Dates


SQL Dates

The most difficult part when working with dates is to be sure that the format of the date you are trying to insert, matches the format of the date column in the database.

As long as your data contains only the date portion, your queries will work as expected. However, if a time portion is involved, it gets more complicated.


SQL Date Data Types

MySQL comes with the following data types for storing a date or a date/time value in the database:

  • DATE - format YYYY-MM-DD
  • DATETIME - format: YYYY-MM-DD HH:MI:SS
  • TIMESTAMP - format: YYYY-MM-DD HH:MI:SS
  • YEAR - format YYYY or YY

SQL Server comes with the following data types for storing a date or a date/time value in the database:

  • DATE - format YYYY-MM-DD
  • DATETIME - format: YYYY-MM-DD HH:MI:SS
  • SMALLDATETIME - format: YYYY-MM-DD HH:MI:SS
  • TIMESTAMP - format: a unique number

Note: The date types are chosen for a column when you create a new table in your database!


SQL Working with Dates

Look at the following table:

Orders Table

OrderId ProductName OrderDate
1 Geitost 2008-11-11
2 Camembert Pierrot 2008-11-09
3 Mozzarella di Giovanni 2008-11-11
4 Mascarpone Fabioli 2008-10-29

Now we want to select the records with an OrderDate of "2008-11-11" from the table above.

We use the following SELECT statement:

SELECT * FROM Orders WHERE OrderDate='2008-11-11'

The result-set will look like this:

OrderId ProductName OrderDate
1 Geitost 2008-11-11
3 Mozzarella di Giovanni 2008-11-11

Note: Two dates can easily be compared if there is no time component involved!

Now, assume that the "Orders" table looks like this (notice the added time-component in the "OrderDate" column):

OrderId ProductName OrderDate
1 Geitost 2008-11-11 13:23:44
2 Camembert Pierrot 2008-11-09 15:45:21
3 Mozzarella di Giovanni 2008-11-11 11:12:01
4 Mascarpone Fabioli 2008-10-29 14:56:59

If we use the same SELECT statement as above:

SELECT * FROM Orders WHERE OrderDate='2008-11-11'

we will get no result! This is because the query is looking only for dates with no time portion.

Tip: To keep your queries simple and easy to maintain, do not use time-components in your dates, unless you have to!