JavaScript Coder

How to Compare Two Date Strings in JavaScript

comparing strings javascript javascript compare string dates

Date values frequently appear in the form of strings, making it essential to know how to compare these strings effectively in various programming tasks. In this tutorial, we will explore a range of techniques for comparing date strings in JavaScript, providing you with the tools you need to handle different situations.

1. Understanding JavaScript Date Objects

In JavaScript, dates can be represented using the built-in Date object. The Date object stores date and time information and provides various methods to work with dates, such as retrieving, formatting, and manipulating dates. The Date object internally represents dates as the number of milliseconds since January 1, 1970, 00:00:00 UTC (Unix Epoch).

2. Converting Date Strings to Date Objects

To compare two date strings in JavaScript, you can convert them to Date objects first. You can create a new Date object by passing the date string to the Date constructor. JavaScript can automatically parse most common date string formats, such as ISO 8601 and RFC 2822.


const dateStr1 = '2023-03-18T10:30:00';
const dateStr2 = '2023-03-18T12:30:00';

const date1 = new Date(dateStr1);
const date2 = new Date(dateStr2);

console.log(date1); // 2023-03-18T10:30:00.000Z
console.log(date2); // 2023-03-18T12:30:00.000Z

3. Comparing Date Objects

Once you have converted the date strings to Date objects, you can use standard comparison operators to compare them. Since Date objects are represented internally as numbers, comparing them with operators such as <, >, <=, >=, ==, !=, ===, and !== will work as expected.


console.log(date1 < date2);  // true
console.log(date1 > date2);  // false
console.log(date1 == date2); // false
console.log(date1 === date2); // false

4. Parsing Date Strings with Different Formats

If your date strings are in a non-standard format or you want to ensure correct parsing, you can use libraries like date-fns or moment.js to parse the date strings before converting them to Date objects. These libraries provide more flexibility and support for various date formats.

Example with date-fns:

// Install the date-fns library with: npm install date-fns
import { parse } from 'date-fns';

const customDateStr1 = '18/03/2023 10:30';
const customDateStr2 = '18/03/2023 12:30';

const customFormat = "dd/MM/yyyy HH:mm";

const customDate1 = parse(customDateStr1, customFormat, new Date());
const customDate2 = parse(customDateStr2, customFormat, new Date());

console.log(customDate1 < customDate2); // true

5. Comparing Date Strings Without Converting to Date Objects

Comparing date strings without converting them to Date objects can be useful when dealing with date strings in specific formats. We will now see different methods for comparing date strings directly.

5.1 Understanding Date String Formats

Date strings can come in various formats, such as ISO 8601 (e.g., “2023-03-18T10:30:00Z”), RFC 2822 (e.g., “Sat, 18 Mar 2023 10:30:00 +0000”), or custom formats (e.g., “18/03/2023 10:30”). When comparing date strings without converting them to Date objects, it’s crucial to ensure the strings are in a consistent format that allows for lexicographic comparison.

5.2. Comparing ISO 8601 Date Strings

ISO 8601 date strings are particularly well-suited for direct comparison because they are arranged in a lexicographically sortable format: “YYYY-MM-DDTHH:mm:ss.sssZ”. When comparing ISO 8601 date strings, you can use the standard comparison operators, such as <, >, <=, >=, ==, !=, ===, and !==.

const dateStr1 = '2023-03-18T10:30:00Z';
const dateStr2 = '2023-03-18T12:30:00Z';

console.log(dateStr1 < dateStr2);  // true
console.log(dateStr1 > dateStr2);  // false
console.log(dateStr1 == dateStr2); // false
console.log(dateStr1 === dateStr2); // false

5.3. Custom Comparison Functions for Date Strings

If your date strings are in a custom format, you may need to write a custom comparison function to compare them without converting them to Date objects. This function should parse the individual date components and compare them in the correct order (year, month, day, hour, minute, second).

function compareCustomDateStrings(dateStr1, dateStr2) {
  const [day1, month1, year1, time1] = dateStr1.split(/[/\s:]+/);
  const [day2, month2, year2, time2] = dateStr2.split(/[/\s:]+/);

  if (year1 !== year2) return year1.localeCompare(year2);
  if (month1 !== month2) return month1.localeCompare(month2);
  if (day1 !== day2) return day1.localeCompare(day2);
  return time1.localeCompare(time2);

const customDateStr1 = '18/03/2023 10:30';
const customDateStr2 = '18/03/2023 12:30';

console.log(compareCustomDateStrings(customDateStr1, customDateStr2)); // -1

In this example, we split the custom date strings into their components (day, month, year, and time) and compare each component lexicographically. If a component is different, we return the comparison result. If all components are equal, the dates are considered equal.

See Also