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From Epoch to Now: Deciphering the Magic Behind Unix Timestamps in AL!

Welcome to another exciting journey into the world of AL programming! Today, we'll demystify the enigma behind Unix timestamps and learn how to seamlessly convert between these number-heavy representations and the more friendly date and time formats we're familiar with.


Imagine being handed a number — 1696867491. Looks confusing, right? But did you know that this is actually a timestamp representing a specific moment in time? That's the beauty of Unix timestamps: their ability to capture moments as simple integers. And with AL, converting these cryptic numbers to human-friendly dates becomes a walk in the park!


Let's dive into our UnixTimestampToDate procedure:


procedure UnixTimestampToDate(DateInMs: BigInteger): Date
    var
        TypeHelper: Codeunit "Type Helper";
    begin
        exit(DT2Date(TypeHelper.EvaluateUnixTimestamp(DateInMs)));
    end;

This snippet effortlessly takes a Unix timestamp in milliseconds and, with the help of our trusty Type Helper, translates it into a format more pleasing to our eyes—a classic date.


On the flip side, have you ever wondered how to send a date into the vast universe of Unix numbers? Our next hero, DateTimeToUnixTimestamp, does just that:


procedure DateTimeToUnixTimestamp(DateTimeValue: DateTime): BigInteger
    var
        EpochDateTime: DateTime;
    begin
        // Calculate the Unix timestamp based on the Epoch datetime of 1/1/1970
        EpochDateTime := CreateDateTime(DMY2Date(1, 1, 1970), 0T);
        exit((DateTimeValue - EpochDateTime) / 1000);
    end;

By referencing the "starting point" of Unix time (the Epoch: midnight of January 1, 1970), this procedure efficiently calculates the seconds that have elapsed since, producing our desired Unix timestamp.


In essence, Unix timestamps and human-friendly dates are two sides of the same coin. And with AL, moving between these two realms has never been easier. So, the next time you come across a seemingly random number in your database or API calls, remember: there's a moment in time hidden inside, just waiting to be revealed! 📅🕰️


Stay tuned for more AL adventures, and happy coding!


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