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SQL 2005 Time Zone Conversion Functions

, 30 Nov 2008
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How to create simple SQL time zone functions to use in queries.

Introduction

I work for a rather large company that spans countries and time zones, with multiple data centers in multiple locations. While working on a project where data was coming from different locations into a common data repository, we ran into a situation. Our application developers had not setup the application to convert date-time values into a common time zone; each application used the local time of the servers that hosted the application. In engaging the vendor, it was soon discovered that it was cost prohibitive to re-write the application to do so. One of the design aspects of the application architecture included MS SQL Server 2005 as the back-end database software. I did a lot of research on Microsoft's website, and the only time zone conversion functions that I could find were relative to analysis services, and would not provide me with a solution to my problem. So, my options were to pay someone to modify our application, or create a process in the database environment to perform the conversions as data is inserted into the common database environment.

Using the Code

A few years ago, we were primarily an Oracle database shop. Oracle natively comes with some time zone conversion functions. My approach to resolve this issue was to setup an environment in MS SQL Server 2005 similar to the environment that I was used to in Oracle (a scalar function called NEW_TIME that took three parameters; date to convert, original time zone value, conversion time zone, and the function returns the converted value). The only thing about the Oracle date time conversion functions that I did not like was that you have to know whether you want to use the standard or the daylight code for the same time zone (e.g., CST vs. CDT). I think that it would be better for the functions to be able to determine whether the date should be converted using the daylight or standard offset.

First, I created a TIME_ZONES table to store the time zone conversion parameters (see the table structure below).

CREATE TABLE [dbo].[TIME_ZONES] (
    [TIMEZONE_CD] [varchar] (6) NOT NULL ,
    [TIMEZONE_NAME] [varchar] (60) NOT NULL ,
    [OFFSET_HR] [int] NOT NULL ,
    [OFFSET_MI] [int] NOT NULL ,
    [DST_OFFSET_HR] [int] NOT NULL ,
    [DST_OFFSET_MI] [int] NOT NULL ,
    [DST_EFF_DT] [varchar] (10) NOT NULL ,
    [DST_END_DT] [varchar] (10) NOT NULL ,
    [EFF_DT] DATETIME NOT NULL,
    [END_DT] DATETIME NOT NULL
)

The main challenge that I had in putting together this table was to determine how to come up with a way to use a generic code for the daylight start and end dates that would be applicable for any year, so that I did not have to maintain a table of actual dates and times that show when day light savings starts or ends for each time zone. So, I came up with a code that I could convert date time values to in order to determine if that date falls within day light or standard time. The code is formatted as follows; MMWDHHmm. MM = two digit month (e.g., March = 03), W = the week of the month (e.g., the second week of the month = 2), D = the day of the week, Sunday is the start of the week which starts at 1 (e.g., Monday = 2), HH = two digit hour, 24 hour time (e.g., 2:00 am = 02, and 2:00 pm = 14), mm = two digit minute (e.g., 35 minutes after the hour is 35). Example: On Sunday, on the second week of the month, for the month of March, at 2:00 am, would be: 03210200.

An example of one of the records is as follows: TIMEZONE_CD = 'CT', TIMEZONE_NAME = 'CENTRAL TIME', OFFSET_HR = -6, OFFSET_MI = 0, DST_OFFSET_HR = -5, DST_OFFSET_MI = 0, DST_EFF_DT = 03210200, DST_END_DT = '11110200' , EFF_DT = '11/30/2008', END_DT = '12/31/9999'.

After the table was created and populated, I started on the creation of the functions. I started with the function to convert a provided date-time to Universal (UTC) or Greenwich time (GMT). The function that I setup takes two parameters; the date-time to convert, and the time zone code. The function declares some variables, and then populates them with the values from the TIME_ZONES table using the provided time zone code. It then checks to see if the date-time provided was within the daylight effective and end dates, so that it would know which offset to adjust the provided date time with, and lastly, it returns the adjusted date-time in UTC time.

CREATE FUNCTION GET_UTCTIME 
    (@DT AS DATETIME, 
     @TZ AS VARCHAR(12))
RETURNS DATETIME
AS
BEGIN
-- DECLARE VARIABLES
    DECLARE @NEWDT AS DATETIME
    DECLARE @OFFSETHR AS INT
    DECLARE @OFFSETMI AS INT
    DECLARE @DSTOFFSETHR AS INT
    DECLARE @DSTOFFSETMI AS INT
    DECLARE @DSTDT AS VARCHAR(10)
    DECLARE @DSTEFFDT AS VARCHAR(10)
    DECLARE @DSTENDDT AS VARCHAR(10)
    
-- GET THE DST parameter from the provided datetime
    -- This gets the month of the datetime provided (2 char value)
    SELECT @DSTDT = CASE LEN(DATEPART(month, @DT)) 
                WHEN 1 
                    then '0' + CONVERT(VARCHAR(2),DATEPART(month, @DT)) 
                ELSE CONVERT(VARCHAR(2),DATEPART(month, @DT)) END
    -- This gets the occurrence of the day of the week within the month 
      -- (i.e. first Sunday, or second Sunday...) (1 char value)
    SELECT @DSTDT = @DSTDT + CONVERT(VARCHAR(1),(DATEPART(day,@DT) + 6) / 7)
    -- This gets the day of the week for the provided datetime (1 char value)
    SELECT @DSTDT = @DSTDT + CONVERT(VARCHAR(1),DATEPART(dw, @DT))
    -- This gets the hour for the provided datetime (2 char value)
    SELECT @DSTDT = @DSTDT + CASE LEN(DATEPART(hh, @DT)) 
                    WHEN 1 
                        then '0' + CONVERT(VARCHAR(2),DATEPART(hh, @DT)) 
                    ELSE CONVERT(VARCHAR(2),DATEPART(hh, @DT)) END
    -- This gets the minutes for the provided datetime (2 char value)
    SELECT @DSTDT = @DSTDT + CASE LEN(DATEPART(mi, @DT)) 
                    WHEN 1 
                        then '0' + CONVERT(VARCHAR(2),DATEPART(mi, @DT)) 
                    ELSE CONVERT(VARCHAR(2),DATEPART(mi, @DT)) END
    
    -- This query gets the timezone information
    -- from the TIME_ZONES table for the provided timezone
    SELECT
        @OFFSETHR=offset_hr,
        @OFFSETMI=offset_mi,
        @DSTOFFSETHR=dst_offset_hr,
        @DSTOFFSETMI=dst_offset_mi,
        @DSTEFFDT=dst_eff_dt,
        @DSTENDDT=dst_END_dt
    FROM time_zones
    WHERE timezone_cd = @TZ AND
        @DT BETWEEN eff_dt AND end_dt
    
    -- Checks to see if the DST parameter
    -- for the datetime provided is within the DST 
    -- parameter for the timezone
    IF @DSTDT BETWEEN @DSTEFFDT AND @DSTENDDT
    BEGIN
        -- Increase the datetime by the hours
        -- and minutes assigned to the timezone
        SET @NEWDT = DATEADD(hh,ABS(@DSTOFFSETHR),@DT)
        SET @NEWDT = DATEADD(mi,ABS(@DSTOFFSETMI),@NEWDT)
    END
    -- If the DST parameter for the provided datetime is not within the defined
    -- DST eff and end dates for the timezone then use the standard time offset
    ELSE
    BEGIN
        -- Increase the datetime by the hours
        -- and minutes assigned to the timezone
        SET @NEWDT = DATEADD(hh,ABS(@OFFSETHR),@DT)
        SET @NEWDT = DATEADD(mi,ABS(@OFFSETMI),@NEWDT)
    END

    -- Return the new date that has been converted to UTC time
    RETURN @NEWDT
END

The next function that I needed to create was one that would convert time from UTC time to a specified time zone, similar to the GET_UTCTIME function. This one takes two parameters; the date-time to be converted and the time zone code to convert the provided date-time to. The function declares some variables, then it converts the provided date-time to the DST parameter format (MMWDHHmm). Next, it uses the provided time zone code to get the parameters from the TIME_ZONES table, and populates the variables with the returned values. Last, it checks to see if the provided date-time falls within the daylight range, and then applies the proper offset value, and then returns the adjusted date-time value.

CREATE FUNCTION GET_TZTIME 
    (@DT AS DATETIME, 
     @TZ AS VARCHAR(12))
RETURNS DATETIME
AS
BEGIN
-- DECLARE VARIABLES
    DECLARE @NEWDT AS DATETIME
    DECLARE @OFFSETHR AS INT
    DECLARE @OFFSETMI AS INT
    DECLARE @DSTOFFSETHR AS INT
    DECLARE @DSTOFFSETMI AS INT
    DECLARE @DSTDT AS VARCHAR(10)
    DECLARE @DSTEFFDT AS VARCHAR(10)
    DECLARE @DSTENDDT AS VARCHAR(10)
    
-- GET THE DST parameter from the provided datetime
    -- This gets the month of the datetime provided (2 char value)
    SELECT @DSTDT = CASE LEN(DATEPART(month, @DT)) 
                WHEN 1 
                    then '0' + CONVERT(VARCHAR(2),DATEPART(month, @DT)) 
                ELSE CONVERT(VARCHAR(2),DATEPART(month, @DT)) END
    -- This gets the occurrence of the day of the week within the month
    --(i.e. first Sunday, or second Sunday...) (1 char value)
    SELECT @DSTDT = @DSTDT + CONVERT(VARCHAR(1),(DATEPART(day,@DT) + 6) / 7)
    -- This gets the day of the week for the provided datetime (1 char value)
    SELECT @DSTDT = @DSTDT + CONVERT(VARCHAR(1),DATEPART(dw, @DT))
    -- This gets the hour for the provided datetime (2 char value)
    SELECT @DSTDT = @DSTDT + CASE LEN(DATEPART(hh, @DT)) 
                    WHEN 1 
                        then '0' + CONVERT(VARCHAR(2),DATEPART(hh, @DT)) 
                    ELSE CONVERT(VARCHAR(2),DATEPART(hh, @DT)) END
    -- This gets the minutes for the provided datetime (2 char value)
    SELECT @DSTDT = @DSTDT + CASE LEN(DATEPART(mi, @DT)) 
                    WHEN 1 
                        THEN '0' + CONVERT(VARCHAR(2),DATEPART(mi, @DT)) 
                        ELSE CONVERT(VARCHAR(2),DATEPART(mi, @DT)) END
    
    -- This query gets the timezone information from the TIME_ZONES table
    -- for the provided timezone
    SELECT
        @OFFSETHR=offset_hr,
        @OFFSETMI=offset_mi,
        @DSTOFFSETHR=dst_offset_hr,
        @DSTOFFSETMI=dst_offset_mi,
        @DSTEFFDT=dst_eff_dt,
        @DSTENDDT=dst_END_dt
    FROM time_zones
    WHERE timezone_cd = @TZ AND
        @DT BETWEEN eff_dt AND end_dt
    
    -- Checks to see if the DST parameter for the datetime provided
    -- is within the DST parameter for the timezone
    IF @DSTDT BETWEEN @DSTEFFDT AND @DSTENDDT
    BEGIN
        -- Increase the datetime by the hours and minutes assigned to the timezone
        SET @NEWDT = DATEADD(hh,@DSTOFFSETHR,@DT)
        SET @NEWDT = DATEADD(mi,@DSTOFFSETMI,@NEWDT)
    END
    -- If the DST parameter for the provided datetime is not within the defined
    -- DST eff and end dates for the timezone then use the standard time offset
    ELSE
    BEGIN
        -- Increase the datetime by the hours and minutes assigned to the timezone
        SET @NEWDT = DATEADD(hh,@OFFSETHR,@DT)
        SET @NEWDT = DATEADD(mi,@OFFSETMI,@NEWDT)
    END

    -- Return the new date that has been converted from UTC time
    RETURN @NEWDT
END

Now that I have the two functions to convert time to and from UTC, I can now create the main function that I will use for most queries, NEW_TIME. This function will use the previous two functions to deliver the desired results. This function takes three parameters: the date-time to be converted, the time zone code of the provided date-time, and the time zone to convert the provided date-time to. The function starts by checking to see if the initial time zone code is either UTC or GMT. The reason for this is that if the starting point is one of those, then the function will not need to convert it to UTC time. If the initial time zone is not GMT or UTC, then the provided date time is converted to UTC time using the provided initial time zone code, and that value is applied to the @NEWDT variable. If the code is UTC or GMT, then the @NEWDT variable is set to the provided date-time. Next, the function converts the value in the @NEWDT variable using the GET_TZTIME function and the second time zone code provided, and returns the converted value.

CREATE FUNCTION NEW_TIME
    (@DT AS DATETIME, 
     @TZ1 AS VARCHAR(12),
     @TZ2 AS VARCHAR(12))
RETURNS DATETIME
AS
BEGIN
    -- Declare variables
    DECLARE @NEWDT AS DATETIME
    
    -- Check to see if the provided timezone
    -- for the source datetime is in GMT or UTC time
    -- If it is not then convert the provided datetime to UTC time
    IF NOT @TZ1 IN ('GMT','UTC')
    BEGIN
        SELECT @NEWDT = dbo.GET_UTCTIME(@DT,@TZ1)
    END
    ELSE
    -- If the provided datetime is in UTC or GMT time
    -- then set the NEWTIME variable to this value
    BEGIN
        SET @NEWDT = @DT
    END

    -- Check to see if the provided conversion timezone is GMT or UTC
    -- If it is then no conversion is needed.
    -- If it is not then convert the provided datetime to the desired timezone
    IF NOT @TZ2 IN ('GMT','UTC')
    BEGIN
        SELECT @NEWDT = dbo.GET_TZTIME(@NEWDT,@TZ2)
    END

    -- Return the new converted datetime
    RETURN @NEWDT
    
END

Final Solution Architecture

The final solution looks like this. We have our local applications with their data stores. We setup database replication so that shortly after the record has been written to the local database, it is replicated to the central data store. The central data store tables have triggers on them that convert the local date-time to UTC time. The records have a field that stores the original local date-time, and another field to store the converted UTC date-time. All of our reports use the UTC time, and the time zone functions to convert the date-time to the desired time zone of the report user.

So far, I have not run into any issues with this setup to require any changes, though I am sure it is not perfect and could use some adjustments here and there. For the application that this was specifically designed for, it has worked out really well.

Points of Interest

The one annoying thing that I have not had a chance to research about is that in order to use the functions, you are required to use the schema owner name prior to the function name (e.g., dbo.NEW_TIME()). I am sure that there is a way around this, but I have not come across it yet, and it can be annoying at times to remember to always use that, since I did not have to when working with Oracle previously, or with other database objects within the MS SQL Server 2005 environment.

Revision History

  • 11-17-2008
    • Original article.
  • 11-30-2008: Based upon a query from user stribbed, I made some modifications to this article - Thanks for the feedback!
    • Added effective and end date fields to the TIME_ZONES table.
    • Modified GET_TZTIME so it only looks for the time zone config that is within the effective and end dates in the TIME_ZONES table.
    • Modified GET_UTCTIME so it only looks for the time zone config that is within the effective and end dates in the TIME_ZONES table.

License

This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)

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About the Author

robertford
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United States United States
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Comments and Discussions

 
SuggestionA new alternative solution for such issues: T-SQL Toolbox on CodePlex PinmemberAndreas Degen3-May-14 0:53 
QuestionProblem with Time Zone calculation for this year PinmemberMark Kilroy11-Mar-14 12:02 
QuestionTimezones info for Europe PinmemberMaikel_D9-Apr-13 21:31 
QuestionExcellent PinmemberPatel,N25-Jan-13 10:11 
QuestionWhich is better? PinmemberAndyTexas15-Nov-10 5:54 
AnswerRe: Which is better? Pinmemberrobertford16-Nov-10 14:19 
GeneralRe: Which is better? Pinmembershell_l_d6-Feb-12 17:30 
GeneralSuggested updates PinmemberColin 215-Apr-10 1:17 
QuestionRe: Suggested updates [modified] Pinmembershell_l_d20-Jul-10 16:13 
AnswerRe: Suggested updates Pinmemberrobertford21-Jul-10 3:22 
GeneralUsing the function in very large data sets Pinmemberrobertford11-Jun-09 18:27 
GeneralCode Change Pinmemberrobertford11-Jun-09 18:04 
GeneralGET_TZTIME v3 Pinmemberrobertford11-Jun-09 18:14 
GeneralTime Zone Functions v4 Pinmemberrobertford21-Jan-10 14:35 
GeneralTime Zone Functions v5 Pinmemberrobertford2-Apr-10 18:05 
GeneralRe: Time Zone Functions v5 [modified] Pinmembershell_l_d20-Jul-10 19:31 
GeneralRe: Time Zone Functions v5 Pinmemberrobertford21-Jul-10 3:19 
GeneralRe: Time Zone Functions v5 [modified] Pinmembershell_l_d21-Jul-10 4:18 
GeneralRe: Time Zone Functions v5 Pinmembershell_l_d21-Jul-10 16:13 
AnswerRe: Time Zone Functions v5 [modified] Pinmembershell_l_d22-Jul-10 5:09 
GeneralRe: Time Zone Functions v5 PinmemberCallon Campbell4-Aug-10 4:22 
GeneralRe: Time Zone Functions v5 [modified] Pinmembershell_l_d4-Aug-10 17:42 
GeneralRe: Time Zone Functions v5 Pinmemberrobertford6-Aug-10 5:53 
GeneralRe: Time Zone Functions v5 PinmemberVictorwzq19-Dec-11 8:54 
GeneralRe: Time Zone Functions v5 Pinmembershell_l_d6-Feb-12 17:28 
GeneralRe: Time Zone Functions v5 Pinmemberrobertford6-Aug-10 5:47 
GeneralRe: Time Zone Functions v5 PinmemberMadburg13-Oct-10 7:59 
GeneralRe: Time Zone Functions v5 Pinmembershell_l_d6-Feb-12 17:29 
QuestionIs ABS() correct in GET_UTCTIME ? PinmemberTom Medley10-Jun-09 11:59 
GeneralSome Time Zones not addressed PinmemberTom Medley10-Jun-09 11:00 
GeneralRe: Some Time Zones not addressed Pinmemberrobertford11-Jun-09 18:19 
QuestionPossible Problem PinmemberTom Medley10-Jun-09 3:43 
AnswerRe: Possible Problem Pinmemberrobertford11-Jun-09 18:10 
QuestionHow to call this function Pinmembertrushitshah26-May-09 0:46 
AnswerRe: How to call this function Pinmemberrobertford10-Jun-09 14:16 
GeneralChange in daylight savings Pinmemberstribbed26-Nov-08 18:55 
GeneralRe: Change in daylight savings Pinmemberrobertford30-Nov-08 17:10 
GeneralRe: Change in daylight savings Pinmemberanj yamsani26-Mar-09 9:15 
GeneralRe: Change in daylight savings Pinmemberrobertford10-Jun-09 14:08 
QuestionRe: Change in daylight savings PinmemberSoftCity18-Sep-09 12:00 
AnswerRe: Change in daylight savings Pinmemberrobertford30-Sep-09 16:02 
GeneralRe: Change in daylight savings PinmemberSoftCity1-Oct-09 16:03 
GeneralRe: Change in daylight savings Pinmemberrobertford2-Oct-09 0:47 
GeneralRe: Change in daylight savings PinmemberRahul Singla23-Dec-09 8:07 
GeneralRe: Change in daylight savings Pinmemberrobertford15-Jan-10 17:29 
GeneralRe: Change in daylight savings PinmemberRahul Singla15-Jan-10 17:58 
GeneralRe: Change in daylight savings Pinmemberrobertford21-Jan-10 14:28 
GeneralRe: Change in daylight savings Pinmemberjoel_charlebois23-Jan-10 7:00 
GeneralRe: Change in daylight savings Pinmemberrobertford2-Apr-10 18:13 

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