SYSTIMESTAMP INTERVAL Processing

…or how to calculate dates in Oracle.

This is just a quick post to try to encourage the use of the INTERVAL function when adjusting (sys)timestamps (or dates). I thought this would be better expressed through a quick script with comments to show how using the traditional Oracle method of calculating fractions of a day can cause problems and make you have to think more than necessary.

There are 2 main issues with using the traditional Oracle method of calculating date/time changes. Firstly, it’s strange. You have to calculate fractions of a day. 1 second is 1/86400, 1 minute is 1/1440 [maybe 1/(24*60) expresses it better]. Secondly, with timestamps it causes an implicit conversion to a date type, with all of the unintended consequences that implicit conversion carries.

Lets run the script and see what happens:

Script Output

> -- Lets just set the date format explicitly before we start. > alter session set nls_date_format = 'DD-MON-YYYY HH24:MI:SS' session SET altered.
> -- Lets start simple and add a day. > select systimestamp, systimestamp + 1 from dual
SYSTIMESTAMP  SYSTIMESTAMP+1             ------------- ------------------------- 09-DEC-11 18.39.53.026000000 +00:00 10-DEC-2011 18:39:53  
> -- Hang on, doing this the traditional Oracle way has implicitly cast > -- the timestamp into a sysdate format. We need to convert it back. > -- Lets try that again, but add 3 hours instead > select systimestamp, to_timestamp( > systimestamp + (3/24), >      'DD-MON-YYYY HH24:MI:SS' ) from dual
SYSTIMESTAMP  TO_TIMESTAMP(SYSTIMESTAMP+(3/24),'DD-MON-YYYYHH24:MI:SS') ------------- ------------------------- 09-DEC-11 18.39.53.026000000 +00:00 09-DEC-11 21.39.53.000000000
> -- So we have an implicit conversion, and we've lost the timestamp precision. > -- Now lets add 3 hours, 5 minutes 10.5 seconds. >select systimestamp, to_timestamp( > systimestamp + (3/24) + (5/(24*60)) + (10.5/24/60/60), > 'DD-MON-YYYY HH24:MI:SS') from dual
SYSTIMESTAMP  TO_TIMESTAMP(SYSTIMESTAMP+(3/24)+(5/(24*60))+(10.5/24/60/60),'DD-MON-YYYYHH24:MI:SS') ------------- ------------------------- 09-DEC-11 18.39.53.026000000 +00:00 09-DEC-11 21.45.04.000000000
> -- And we completely lost the .5 in the 10.5 as we've converted to a sysdate. > -- It was rounded up. You might also have noticed that I have used some > -- different date processing to calculate fractions of a day. > -- There are many different way to calculate time in Oracle: > -- 10 minutes can be 10/1440, 10/60/24, 10/(60*24), 0.00694, 600/86400 etc, > -- It's all tricky to understand and standards vary from company to company, > -- if the company actually has a standard. > -- There is a better way, using the INTERVAL function. It goes like this: > -- Lets start simple and add a day.
> select systimestamp, systimestamp + INTERVAL '1' day from dual
SYSTIMESTAMP  SYSTIMESTAMP+INTERVAL'1'DAY ------------- --------------------------- 09-DEC-11 18.39.53.042000000 +00:00 10-DEC-11 18.39.53.042000000 +00:00
> -- So far so good. And we haven't lost the data type either! > -- No implicit conversion to break our code in the future. > -- Now lets try to add 3 hours
> select systimestamp, systimestamp + INTERVAL '3' hour from dual
SYSTIMESTAMP  SYSTIMESTAMP+INTERVAL'3'HOUR ------------- ---------------------------- 09-DEC-11 18.39.53.042000000 +00:00 09-DEC-11 21.39.53.042000000 +00:00
> -- Note the indicator is always singular. > -- Now lets add 3 hours, 5 minutes 10.5 seconds
> select systimestamp, > systimestamp + INTERVAL '3' hour > + INTERVAL '5' minute >                    + INTERVAL '10.5' second >       from dual
SYSTIMESTAMP  SYSTIMESTAMP+INTERVAL'3'HOUR+INTERVAL'5'MINUTE+INTERVAL'10.5'SECOND ------------- ------------------------------------------------------------------- 09-DEC-11 18.39.53.042000000 +00:00 09-DEC-11 21.45.03.542000000 +00:00                                 
> -- Spot on - and the precision is correct too > -- My mam/mum/mom* could read it and work out what was going on. > -- But she is an OCA** (* delete as applicable) (**not really) > -- There you go. Get your company to use this nomenclature and you're home free. > -- No more strange time-base calculations or implicit conversion errors. > -- It also works with DATE types too.

Original Script set echo on
-- Lets just set the date format explicitly before we start. alter session set nls_date_format = 'DD-MON-YYYY HH24:MI:SS'; -- Lets start simple and add a day. select systimestamp, systimestamp + 1 from dual; -- Hang on, doing this the traditional Oracle way has implicitly cast -- the timestamp into a sysdate format. We need to convert it back. -- Lets try that again, but add 3 hours instead select systimestamp, to_timestamp(        systimestamp + (3/24),                                    'DD-MON-YYYY HH24:MI:SS' ) from dual; -- So we have an implicit conversion, and we've lost the timestamp precision. -- Now lets add 3 hours, 5 minutes 10.5 seconds. select systimestamp, to_timestamp(        systimestamp + (3/24) + (5/(24*60)) + (10.5/24/60/60),                                    'DD-MON-YYYY HH24:MI:SS') from dual; -- And we completely lost the .5 in the 10.5 as we've converted to a sysdate. -- It was rounded up. You might also have noticed that I have used some -- different date processing to calculate fractions of a day. -- There are many different way to calculate time in Oracle: -- 10 minutes can be 10/1440, 10/60/24, 10/(60*24), 0.00694, 600/86400 etc, -- It's all tricky to understand and standards vary from company to company, -- if the company actually has a standard. -- There is a better way, using the INTERVAL function. It goes like this: -- Lets start simple and add a day. select systimestamp, systimestamp + INTERVAL '1' day from dual; -- So far so good. And we haven't lost the data type either! -- No implicit conversion to break our code in the future. -- Now let's try to add 3 hours select systimestamp, systimestamp + INTERVAL '3' hour from dual; -- Note the indicator is always singular. -- Now lets add 3 hours, 5 minutes 10.5 seconds select systimestamp, systimestamp + INTERVAL '3' hour                                   + INTERVAL '5' minute                                   + INTERVAL '10.5' second                      from dual; -- Spot on - and the precision is correct too -- My mam/mum/mom* could read it and work out what was going on. -- But she is an OCA** (* delete as applicable) (**not really) -- There you go. Get your company to use this nomenclature and you're home free. -- No more strange time-base calculations or implicit conversion errors. -- It also works with DATE types too.
%d bloggers like this: