finding difference between two datetime values in C

Posted on 2010-11-22
Last Modified: 2012-05-10

I have the following problem. I have to find the elapsed time in seconds between two given dates in the following format.

yyyyMMddhhmmss example: 20101118190541

Now i have two of these as a char [14] array and i need to find the difference in seconds between them.

Is there any C library which is portable or some algorithm i can use to calculate it ?
Question by:MarioC82
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Expert Comment

Comment Utility
You can easily calculate the difference between two timestamps in time_t format using difftime :

It's just a matter of getting the corresponding time_t for your timestamp. And that can be done by parsing the timestamp, filling a struct tm, and then calling mktime :

Author Comment

Comment Utility
I will have a look at this and respond again.

Author Comment

Comment Utility
Hi i have a quick question, with the above date format would something like this work to populate the tm struct.

fromDate is a char[14] array containing the date.

scanf(fromDate, "%.4s%.2s%.2s%.2s%.2%.2", t->tm_year, t->tm_mon, t->tm_mday, t->tm_hour, t->tm_min, t->tm_wday);

However i dont seem to get the values to pass i only get current date still.
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Expert Comment

Comment Utility
You are missing %s in sscanf
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Accepted Solution

Infinity08 earned 500 total points
Comment Utility
The idea is good, but there are a few problems with that statement :

1) a 14 character string is a char[15] array, because you need an extra character for the terminating '\0'.

2) when parsing a string, you use sscanf, not scanf.

3) the struct tm holds ints, so you need to use %d, not %s when parsing.

4) %.4d is not supported for sscanf. You need to use %4d.

5) you need to pass the addressed of the ints as additional parameters of sscanf.

6) tm_sec indicates the seconds, not tm_wday.

7) you need to adjust tm_year and tm_mon after parsing.

Here's some sample code :
#include <stdio.h>

#include <time.h>

int main(void) {

    char fromDate[15] = "20101118190541";

    struct tm tt;

    sscanf(fromDate, "%4d%2d%2d%2d%2d%2d", &(tt.tm_year), &(tt.tm_mon), &(tt.tm_mday), &(tt.tm_hour), &(tt.tm_min), &(tt.tm_sec));

    tt.tm_year -= 1900;

    tt.tm_mon -= 1;

    time_t tim = mktime(&tt);

    printf("%s\n", ctime(&tim));

    return 0;


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Author Comment

Comment Utility
Thanks Infinity08.

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