PHP Bug with DateTime diff

After PHP 5.3.0 DateTime::diff was introduced to help with the comparison between two DateTime objects. However it still seems to be a bit buggy. While I was developing a statistics tool and trying to group occurrences by month, I got into a problem with diff functionality between February and March. If you try the following code you can probably reproduce it. (More info and a temporary solution is provided at the 2nd comment)

$first = new DateTime('2011-03-01');
$second = new DateTime('2011-03-29');
$interval = $second->diff($first, true);
echo "{$first->format('Y-M-d')} and {$second->format('Y-M-d')} Difference: {$interval->format('%a')} total day(s), {$interval->format('%D')} day(s), {$interval->format('%M')} month(s), {$interval->format('%Y')} year(s).

In Windows 7 with PHP, I get:

2011-Mar-01 and 2011-Mar-29 Difference: 6015 total day(s), 00 day(s), 01 month(s), 00 year(s).

In Linux (CentOS) with PHP 5.3.3, I get:

2011-Mar-01 and 2011-Mar-29 Difference: 28 total day(s), 00 day(s), 01 month(s), 00 year(s).

The diff probably thinks that 1st March is 29th of February and that’s the reason behind this issue.

PS. You can also notice another bug at Windows with total days being 6015, this refers to:

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10 Responses to PHP Bug with DateTime diff

  1. petros says:

    About the windows bug a temporary solution can be found here:

  2. petros says:

    I investigated the issue a little bit further and it seems to be connected with the timezone. For example if I set my zone to Europe/Stockholm which is +1 GMT then if i set the $first = new DateTime(’2011-03-01 00:59:00′); I still get the wrong result. However an hour value above or equal to +1 ie $first = new DateTime(’2011-03-01 01:00:00′); will give the correct example.

    So if you are GMT + 2 you need to have a value above or equal to 2011-03-01 02:00:00.

    A quick fix is to set your timezone to UTC: date_default_timezone_set(‘UTC’);
    and in this case you match the time with the needed in order to get correct results.

    Another example with the opposite results is to set your timezone to:
    $first = new DateTime(’2011-02-28 22:01:00′);
    $second = new DateTime(’2011-03-29 03:00:00′);
    then the diff will think that you are in the same month. You need to insert a few hours earlier to get correct results.

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  8. I needed to get the exact number of days between 2 dates and was relying on the this diff function, but found that I was getting a peculiar result with: ?php $today = new DateTime ( date ( ’2011-11-09′ )); $appt = new DateTime ( date ( ’2011-12-09′ )); $days_until_appt = $appt – diff ( $today )- d ; ? This was returning 0 because it was exactly one month. I had to end up using : ?php $days_until_appt = $appt – diff ( $today )- days ; ? to get 30.

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