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Extract date from string in PHP

Posted on 2009-04-11
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Last Modified: 2013-12-12
I am trying to extract dates in PHP from a large number of existing files.

The trick is this:  the dates are many different formats, and they're embedded within a file name in different ways.  Here are a few of the real-world cases I'm trying to fit:

// Case 1:  "Morning Meeting 4-29-08.xls" : Typical format, 1-digit month
// Case 2:  "Photon_DPR_04-25-2008_Atlantic.xls" : 2-digit month
// Case 3:  "Canyon DPR April 22 08.xlsx" : Month is spelled out
// Case 4:  "CDI_Time_Ticket_April 02_08.xls" : Month is spelled out, underscore used to delimit day/year
// Case 5:  "CCS_Atlantic_Log_Sheet_5-12-08.xls" : Underscore and 1-digit month value
// Case 6:  "CCS_Atlantic_DPR_05-14-08.xls" : Underscore and 2-digit month value
// Case 7:  "Integra_Daily_Report_4-21-2008.pdf" : Underscore and 2-digit month value, with 4-digit year
// Case 8:  "05132008 Wachs DPR Atlantic.xls" : No delimiters, date at front of string
// Case 9:  "Kest-15-03292008_Injury_Report.xls" : No delimiters, date mid-string, "-" characters do not delimit dates!
// Case 10:  "Sample-032908_Report.xls" : 2-digit year, no delimiters, date mid-string, "-" characters do not delimit dates!

My current approach is this:

1.  Starting from the left and right of the file name string, search forwards and backwards until a numeric value is encountered and extract the characters between to search using a simple strtotime call, as below in the code section.

The above approach will fail, though in certain cases, such as:
"Sample File 04-04-2008 version 2008" :  In this case, it fails as digits are not expected to the right of the date.
"Kest-15-03292008_Injury_Report.xls":  This fails as the digits are not expected to the left of the date string.

Any advise on a robust way to parse dates for these kinds of unstructured file names?

Many thanks,

-Kevin
echo ("Embedded date: 4-29-08: ".date("Y-m-d", strtotime("4-29-08"))."\n");

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Question by:Kevin_Cain
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by:Hube02
ID: 24124072
I would start with a regular expression to extract the date and then parse the date from there. Try the attached code. The regular expression used will extract all of the possibilities given in your example. I took your examples made them in to a string and then grab all of your dates out of it.

You could use the following:

preg_matchl($regex, $string, $matches);

and your date would be stored in $matches[2];

<?php
	
$string = '// Case 1:  "Morning Meeting 4-29-08.xls" : Typical format, 1-digit month
// Case 2:  "Photon_DPR_04-25-2008_Atlantic.xls" : 2-digit month
// Case 3:  "Canyon DPR April 22 08.xlsx" : Month is spelled out
// Case 4:  "CDI_Time_Ticket_April 02_08.xls" : Month is spelled out, underscore used to delimit day/year
// Case 5:  "CCS_Atlantic_Log_Sheet_5-12-08.xls" : Underscore and 1-digit month value
// Case 6:  "CCS_Atlantic_DPR_05-14-08.xls" : Underscore and 2-digit month value
// Case 7:  "Integra_Daily_Report_4-21-2008.pdf" : Underscore and 2-digit month value, with 4-digit year
// Case 8:  "05132008 Wachs DPR Atlantic.xls" : No delimiters, date at front of string
// Case 9:  "Kest-15-03292008_Injury_Report.xls" : No delimiters, date mid-string, "-" characters do not delimit dates!
// Case 10:  "Sample-032908_Report.xls" : 2-digit year, no delimiters, date mid-string, "-" characters do not delimit dates!';
 
$regex = '/(:\d+-)?((\d{1,2}|january|february|march|april|may|june|july|august|september|october|november|december)[- _]*\d{1,2}[- _]*\d{2,4})/i';
preg_match_all($regex, $string, $dates);
print_r($dates);
	
?>

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Expert Comment

by:Hube02
ID: 24124073
I take that back, I'm having trouble with your Case 9.........
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Hube02 earned 125 total points
ID: 24124079
Got it, as long as your dates conform the only those cases given above you can use this regex

$regex = '/(-\d{2}-)?((\d{1,2}|january|february|march|april|may|june|july|august|september|october|november|december)[- _]*\d{1,2}[- _]*\d{2,4})/i';

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Author Closing Comment

by:Kevin_Cain
ID: 31569249
Very fast response, and a well composed answer.
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Expert Comment

by:Hube02
ID: 24124094
Thanks for the question.
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