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Prints human-readable, friendly strings to measure elapsed time
""" - a script for providing a human-readable string of how much time
has elapsed since a given date, implemented only using the standard library.
Modelled on the style of dates used on Stack Overflow posts.
from datetime import datetime, timedelta
def print_date(date, incl_year=True, short_months=True):
"""Prints a datetime object as a full date, stripping off any leading
zeroes from the day (strftime() gives the day of the month as a zero-padded
decimal number).
# %b/%B are the tokens for abbreviated/full names of months to strftime()
if short_months:
month_token = '%b'
month_token = '%B'
# Get a string from strftime()
if incl_year:
date_str = date.strftime('%d ' + month_token + ' %Y')
date_str = date.strftime('%d ' + month_token)
# There will only ever be at most one leading zero, so check for this and
# remove if necessary
if date_str[0] == '0':
date_str = date_str[1:]
return date_str
def elapsed_time_str(past_time, max_days=5, short_months=True):
"""Accepts a datetime object or a string in ISO 8601 format and returns a
human-readable string explaining when this time was.
The rules are as follows:
* If a time is within the last hour, return 'XX minutes'
* If a time is within the last 24 hours, return 'XX hours'
* If within the last 5 days, return 'XX days'
* If in the same year, print the date without the year
* If in a different year, print the date with the whole year
These can be configured as options.
now_time =
# If the user passes in a string, try to turn it into a datetime object
# before continuing
if isinstance(past_time, str):
print "it's a string!"
past_time = datetime.strptime(past_time, "%Y-%m-%dT%H:%M:%S.%fZ")
except ValueError:
raise ValueError("User supplied string %s is not in ISO 8601 "
"format." % past_time)
elif isinstance(past_time, datetime):
raise ValueError("User-supplied value %s is neither a datetime object "
"nor an ISO 8601 string." % past_time)
# It doesn't make sense to measure time elapsed between now and a future
# date, so we'll just print the date
if past_time > now_time:
incl_year = (past_time.year != now_time.year)
time_str = print_date(past_time,
# Otherwise, start by getting the elapsed time as a datetime object
elapsed_time = now_time - past_time
# Check if the time is within the last minute
if elapsed_time < timedelta(seconds=60):
if elapsed_time.seconds == 1:
time_str = "a second ago"
time_str = "%d secs ago" % elapsed_time.seconds
# Check if the time is within the last hour
elif elapsed_time < timedelta(seconds=60 * 60):
# We know that seconds > 60, so we can safely round down
minutes = elapsed_time.seconds / 60
if minutes == 1:
time_str = "a minute ago"
time_str = "%d mins ago" % minutes
# Check if the time is within the last day
elif elapsed_time < timedelta(seconds=60 * 60 * 24 - 1):
# We know that it's at least an hour, so we can safely round down
hours = elapsed_time.seconds / (60 * 60)
if hours == 1:
time_str = "an hour ago"
time_str = "%d hours ago" % hours
# Check if it's within the last N days, where N is a user-supplied
# argument
elif elapsed_time < timedelta(days=max_days):
if elapsed_time.days == 1:
time_str = "yesterday"
time_str = "%d days ago" % elapsed_time.days
# If it's not within the last N days, then we're just going to print
# the date
incl_year = (past_time.year != now_time.year)
time_str = print_date(past_time,
return time_str
def main():
"""Read a user-supplied string from stdin, and return an elapsed time
import sys
print elapsed_time_str(
if __name__ == '__main__':
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