Comparing dates in Swift

May 28, 2020 · Follow on Twitter and Mastodon swiftdatesextensions

In this post, we’ll extend Date with functions that let us compare dates with clean, readable code.

The basics

Date comparisons are common tasks in many apps. For instance, we may want to know if a certain date is before or after another.

Date has a very easy way to do this. I used to use compare a while back, but later versions of Swift let’s you use >, < and ==, for instance:

let date1 = Date(timeIntervalSince1970: 0)
let date2 = Date(timeIntervalSince1970: 1)
date1 > date2    // false
date1 < date2    // true
date1 == date2   // false

Even though this is cleaer than checking the comparison result, I still don’t like this. I think Swift shines when it’s readable, and this is more syntax than semantics.

I think we can extend Date with functions that make these kind of operations more readable.

More readable extensions

We can use the operations above in a set of Date extensions, to create more readable functions:

public extension Date {
    func isAfter(_ date: Date) -> Bool {
        self > date
    func isBefore(_ date: Date) -> Bool {
        self < date
    func isSame(as date: Date) -> Bool {
        self == date

If you now want to compare dates, you can do so with more readable code:

let date1 = Date(timeIntervalSince1970: 0)
let date2 = Date(timeIntervalSince1970: 1)
date1.isAfter(date2)    // false
date1.isBefore(date2)   // true
date1.isSame(as: date2) // false

I think this is more readable and less error prone. This semantic approach is something I often use, and something I think Swift should add more of to the language.

For instance, myBool.toggle() is easier to read than myBool = !myBool, which I think feels more like c/c++ that what most of Swift looks like.

Source code

I have added these extensions to my SwiftKit library. You can find the source code here. Feel free to try it out and let me know what you think!

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