I code dreams™

Friendly dates

I can’t remember where or when I saw it first, but you know it probably as well. Trend is to show a ‘friendly date’ instead of the full date.

The rationale sounds good to me: don’t make me think:

I see it rarely used for future dates, now I mention it. Could have been:

Friendly or unfriendly?

In my strong opinion, these are really friendly dates masquerading as unfriendly dates. They are very dependent on technology. E.g. ‘43 minutes ago’… ok, when was that? Did the page not refresh? Is it really 1 year ago? Did my browser cache it? Not to mention screenshots or print!

Significance is worse at best as well: e.g. ‘two years ago’. It is 366 days ago or 720 days ago?

Make them friendly!

For my site I used what I call ‘compressed significant dates’. The longer it has been, less significance is needed.


Semi-friendy Unfriendly date Compressed significant date
2003 June 10, 12:35:31 19 years ago ’03
2021 June 10, 12:35:31 1 year ago Jun ’21
2022 June 10, 12:35:31 3 months ago 10 Jun
2022 september 10, 12:35:31 9 days ago 10 Jun
2023 June 10, 12:35:31 In one year Jun ‘23

The only use case I see is if you or somebody else submits something in a system: ‘Piet posted seconds ago’, but it should be replaced within the minute!

  1. not realtime, later!