Parsing Time String with Timezone info

Posted on 2007-03-23
Last Modified: 2012-05-05
I'm trying to parse Apache log files with Python and I'm having difficulty parsing the time zone information.

import time
t = "23/Mar/2007:02:01:14 -0500"
pdate = time.strptime(t, "%d/%b/%Y:%H:%M:%S %Z")

The above code fails.  How can I take the above string and parse it to get a unix timestamp in GMT?  I looked at mx.DateTime but the parser documentation didn't seem to say anything about timezone information.  Does mx.DateTime handle this correctly or do I need something different?
Question by:phasevar
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LVL 29

Expert Comment

ID: 18782202
The problem is in timezone %Z. Try the following:

import time
# t = "23/Mar/2007:02:01:14 -0500"
t = "23/Mar/2007:02:01:14"
pdate = time.strptime(t, "%d/%b/%Y:%H:%M:%S")
print time.strftime("%d/%b/%Y:%H:%M:%S %Z", pdate)

Your value string was commented out and simplified. Also the formatting string for strptime() was simplified. Then the pdate is extracted correctly (in my case). Converting it back using the strftime() and the original format string reveals what was expected for the extraction.

In my case it look really strange (you know MS Windows and their view on how the timezone should be displayed):

23/Mar/2007:02:01:14 Střední Evropa (běžný čas)

It is in Czech and it says Middle Europe (normal time)

When I put back that string into your t, set the coding of the Python source file correctly and use your original code, it works. Now the question is how to accept the -0500.
LVL 29

Expert Comment

ID: 18782484
You can split manually the timezone offset string and convert it to int:

t = "23/Mar/2007:02:01:14 -0500"
tlocStr, zoneStr = t.split(" ")
zoneOffset = int(zoneStr[:3])
print tlocStr
print zoneStr
print zoneOffset

You can get the local time from tlocStr using the simplified format string ("%d/%b/%Y:%H:%M:%S") and add manually the zone offset. If the log contains always the same value of the zone offset, you may want to ignore it.
LVL 29

Expert Comment

ID: 18782523
Have a look at RFC2822 ( what the -0500 exactly means. (To put it simply, it means minus 5 hours to UTC a.k.a. Greenwich Mean Time.)

Author Comment

ID: 18782562
Yeah, the TZ is the issue.   Without parsing the TZ info I'll have incorrect dates.
LVL 29

Accepted Solution

pepr earned 500 total points
ID: 18783206
Try the standard module datetime for the addition of the timezone delta in hours:

import datetime

t = "23/Mar/2007:02:01:14 -0500"
tloc, zone = t.split(" ")
zoneOffset = int(zone[:3])
print tloc
print zoneOffset

dt = datetime.datetime.strptime(tloc, "%d/%b/%Y:%H:%M:%S")
delta = datetime.timedelta(hours=zoneOffset)

print dt.strftime("%d/%b/%Y:%H:%M:%S")
dt = dt + delta
print dt.strftime("%d/%b/%Y:%H:%M:%S")

For me it produces


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