Using Alphabetic Characters in SimpleDateFormat Pattern String

By | July 29, 2019

Question

Is it possible to include an alphabetic character in a SimpleDateFormat Pattern String?

I am trying to create a format string where the letter ‘T’ is included before the time for example:

2003-11-15T09:30:47-05:00.

I am currently using yyyy-MM-ddhh:mm:ssZ as the pattern string.

If I change it to yyyy-MM-ddThh:mm:ssZ it will throw an exception as ‘A’ to ‘Z’ and ‘a’ to ‘z’ are reserved.

Is there any solution that does not involve using two DateFormats?

Solution

Surrounding the T with single quotes should work:

yyyy-MM-dd'T'hh:mm:ssZ

Quoting from the documentation (emphasis mine):

Date and time formats are specified by date and time pattern strings. Within date and time pattern strings, unquoted letters from 'A' to 'Z' and from 'a' to 'z' are interpreted as pattern letters representing the components of a date or time string. Text can be quoted using single quotes (') to avoid interpretation. "''" represents a single quote. All other characters are not interpreted; they’re simply copied into the output string during formatting or matched against the input string during parsing.

Your specific use case is even included as an example:

Date and Time Pattern            Result
-------------------------------------------------------------
"yyyy-MM-dd'T'HH:mm:ss.SSSZ"     2001-07-04T12:08:56.235-0700  

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