Data Formatting

To display data in a more readable format for users, you may format them using the formatter application component. By default the formatter is implemented by yii\i18n\Formatter which provides a set of methods to format data as date/time, numbers, currencies, and other commonly used formats. You can use the formatter like the following,

$formatter = \Yii::$app->formatter;

// output: January 1, 2014
echo $formatter->asDate('2014-01-01', 'long');
// output: 12.50%
echo $formatter->asPercent(0.125, 2);
// output: <a href=""></a>
echo $formatter->asEmail(''); 

// output: Yes
echo $formatter->asBoolean(true); 
// it also handles display of null values:

// output: (not set)
echo $formatter->asDate(null); 

As you can see, all these methods are named as asXyz(), where Xyz stands for a supported format. Alternatively, you may format data using the generic method format(), which allows you to control the desired format programmatically and is commonly used by widgets like yii\grid\GridView and yii\widgets\DetailView. For example,

// output: January 1, 2014
echo Yii::$app->formatter->format('2014-01-01', 'date'); 

// you can also use an array to specify parameters for the format method:
// `2` is the value for the $decimals parameter of the asPercent()-method.
// output: 12.50%
echo Yii::$app->formatter->format(0.125, ['percent', 2]); 

Note: The formatter component is designed to format values to be displayed for the end user. If you want to convert user input into machine readable format, or just format a date in a machine readable format, the formatter is not the right tool for that. To convert user input for date and number values you may use yii\validators\DateValidator and yii\validators\NumberValidator respectively. For simple conversion between machine readable date and time formats, the PHP date()-function is enough.

Configuring Formatter

You may customize the formatting rules by configuring the formatter component in the application configuration. For example,

return [
    'components' => [
        'formatter' => [
            'dateFormat' => 'dd.MM.yyyy',
            'decimalSeparator' => ',',
            'thousandSeparator' => ' ',
            'currencyCode' => 'EUR',

Please refer to yii\i18n\Formatter for the properties that may be configured.

Formatting Date and Time Values

The formatter supports the following output formats that are related with date and time:

  • date: the value is formatted as a date, e.g. January 01, 2014.
  • time: the value is formatted as a time, e.g. 14:23.
  • datetime: the value is formatted as date and time, e.g. January 01, 2014 14:23.
  • timestamp: the value is formatted as a unix timestamp, e.g. 1412609982.
  • relativeTime: the value is formatted as the time interval between a date and now in human readable form e.g. 1 hour ago.
  • duration: the value is formatted as a duration in human readable format. e.g. 1 day, 2 minutes.

The default date and time formats used for the date, time, and datetime methods can be customized globally by configuring
dateFormat, timeFormat, and datetimeFormat.

You can specify date and time formats using the ICU syntax. You can also use the PHP date() syntax with a prefix php: to differentiate it from ICU syntax. For example,

// ICU format
echo Yii::$app->formatter->asDate('now', 'yyyy-MM-dd'); // 2014-10-06

// PHP date()-format
echo Yii::$app->formatter->asDate('now', 'php:Y-m-d'); // 2014-10-06

Info: Some letters of the PHP format syntax are not supported by ICU and thus the PHP intl extension and can not be used in Yii formatter. Most of these (w, t, L, B, u, I, Z) are not really useful for formatting dates but rather used when doing date math. S and U however may be useful. Their behavior can be achieved by doing the following:

  • for S, which is the English ordinal suffix for the day of the month (e.g. st, nd, rd or th.), the following replacement can be used:

    $f = Yii::$app->formatter;
    $d = $f->asOrdinal($f->asDate('2017-05-15', 'php:j'));
    echo "On the $d day of the month.";  // prints "On the 15th day of the month."
  • for U, the Unix Epoch, you can use the timestamp format.

When working with applications that need to support multiple languages, you often need to specify different date and time formats for different locales. To simplify this task, you may use format shortcuts (e.g. long, short), instead. The formatter will turn a format shortcut into an appropriate format according to the currently active locale. The following format shortcuts are supported (the examples assume en_GB is the active locale):

  • short: will output 06/10/2014 for date and 15:58 for time;
  • medium: will output 6 Oct 2014 and 15:58:42;
  • long: will output 6 October 2014 and 15:58:42 GMT;
  • full: will output Monday, 6 October 2014 and 15:58:42 GMT.

Since version 2.0.7 it is also possible to format dates in different calendar systems. Please refer to the API documentation of the formatters $calendar-property on how to set a different calendar.

Time Zones

When formatting date and time values, Yii will convert them to the target time zone. The value being formatted is assumed to be in UTC, unless a time zone is explicitly given or you have configured yii\i18n\Formatter::$defaultTimeZone.

In the following examples, we assume the target time zone is set as Europe/Berlin.

// formatting a UNIX timestamp as a time
echo Yii::$app->formatter->asTime(1412599260); // 14:41:00

// formatting a datetime string (in UTC) as a time 
echo Yii::$app->formatter->asTime('2014-10-06 12:41:00'); // 14:41:00

// formatting a datetime string (in CEST) as a time
echo Yii::$app->formatter->asTime('2014-10-06 14:41:00 CEST'); // 14:41:00

If the time zone is not set explicitly on the formatter component, the time zone configured in the application is used, which is the same time zone as set in the PHP configuration.

Note: As time zones are subject to rules made by the governments around the world and may change frequently, it is likely that you do not have the latest information in the time zone database installed on your system. You may refer to the ICU manual for details on updating the time zone database. Please also read Setting up your PHP environment for internationalization.

Formatting Numbers

The formatter supports the following output formats that are related with numbers:

  • integer: the value is formatted as an integer e.g. 42.
  • decimal: the value is formatted as a decimal number considering decimal and thousand separators e.g. 2,542.123 or 2.542,123.
  • percent: the value is formatted as a percent number e.g. 42%.
  • scientific: the value is formatted as a number in scientific format e.g. 4.2E4.
  • currency: the value is formatted as a currency value e.g. £420.00. Note that for this function to work properly, the locale needs to include a country part e.g. en_GB or en_US because language only would be ambiguous in this case.
  • size: the value that is a number of bytes is formatted as a human readable size e.g. 410 kibibytes.
  • shortSize: is the short version of size, e.g. 410 KiB.

The format for number formatting can be adjusted using the decimalSeparator and thousandSeparator, both of which take default values according to the active locale.

For more advanced configuration, yii\i18n\Formatter::$numberFormatterOptions and yii\i18n\Formatter::$numberFormatterTextOptions can be used to configure the NumberFormatter class used internally to implement the formatter. For example, to adjust the maximum and minimum value of fraction digits, you can configure the yii\i18n\Formatter::$numberFormatterOptions property like the following:

'numberFormatterOptions' => [
    NumberFormatter::MIN_FRACTION_DIGITS => 0,
    NumberFormatter::MAX_FRACTION_DIGITS => 2,

Other Formats

Besides date/time and number formats, Yii also supports other commonly used formats, including

  • raw: the value is outputted as is, this is a pseudo-formatter that has no effect except that null values will be formatted using nullDisplay.
  • text: the value is HTML-encoded. This is the default format used by the GridView DataColumn.
  • ntext: the value is formatted as an HTML-encoded plain text with newlines converted into line breaks.
  • paragraphs: the value is formatted as HTML-encoded text paragraphs wrapped into <p> tags.
  • html: the value is purified using HtmlPurifier to avoid XSS attacks. You can pass additional options such as ['html', ['Attr.AllowedFrameTargets' => ['_blank']]].
  • email: the value is formatted as a mailto-link.
  • image: the value is formatted as an image tag.
  • url: the value is formatted as a hyperlink.
  • boolean: the value is formatted as a boolean. By default true is rendered as Yes and false as No, translated to the current application language. You can adjust this by configuring the yii\i18n\Formatter::$booleanFormat property.

Null Values

Null values are specially formatted. Instead of displaying an empty string, the formatter will convert it into a preset string which defaults to (not set) translated into the current application language. You can configure the nullDisplay property to customize this string.

Localizing Data Format

As aforementioned, the formatter may use the currently active locale to determine how to format a value that is suitable in the target country/region. For example, the same date value may be formatted differently for different locales:

Yii::$app->formatter->locale = 'en-US';
echo Yii::$app->formatter->asDate('2014-01-01'); // output: January 1, 2014

Yii::$app->formatter->locale = 'de-DE';
echo Yii::$app->formatter->asDate('2014-01-01'); // output: 1. Januar 2014

Yii::$app->formatter->locale = 'ru-RU';
echo Yii::$app->formatter->asDate('2014-01-01'); // output: 1 января 2014 г.

By default, the currently active locale is determined by the value of yii\base\Application::$language. You may override it by setting the yii\i18n\Formatter::$locale property explicitly.

Note: The Yii formatter relies on the PHP intl extension to support localized data formatting. Because different versions of the ICU library compiled with PHP may cause different formatting results, it is recommended that you use the same ICU version for all your environments. For more details, please refer to Setting up your PHP environment for internationalization.

If the intl extension is not installed, the data will not be localized.

Note that for date values that are before year 1901 or after 2038, they will not be localized on 32-bit systems, even if the intl extension is installed. This is because in this case ICU is using 32-bit UNIX timestamps to date values.