How to manage dates and times in BDM and User Interfaces

Manage dates and times in user interface is often difficult. This following howTo should help you.

To manage dates and times in the BDM and User Interfaces, Bonita comes with 3 types of data that you can manipulate through processes, APIs and user interfaces (forms/pages).
This page gives a step-by-step procedure to create a process with forms that allow to choose a date (with or without a time) and then display it, leveraging each of these data types.

Date only

The type DATE ONLY is used to hold a date with no time of the day. Use it for birth dates for example.
It is stored in the database as an ISO 8601 formatted Character String (e.g. "2017-01-13").
It uses java.time.LocalDate as Java type.

The following sections show how to create, update, and display an Employee object with a birth date.

Define the business data

  1. In the studio, open the Business Data Model editor (in menu Development > Business Data Model > Manage…​)

  2. Create a business object Employee with an attribute birthdate of type DATE ONLY (this type replaces the type DATE (NOT RECOMMENDED) that is more difficult to handle as it also includes time information)

  3. Create a new process

  4. In the process Data tab, create a new business variable employee of the type Employee

Define the contract at pool level, as well as the script to initialize the business variable

  1. In the process Execution tab > Contract section, define the contract inputs using the Add from data…​ button

  2. Select the business variable employee

  3. Follow the steps to generate a contract with a COMPLEX input employeeInput containing a birthdate attribute of type DATE ONLY (keep the option to generate the variable initialization script automatically)

Generate the process instantiation form

  1. In the process Execution tab, Form section, generate the form by clicking on the pencil icon

  2. Since you have a DATE ONLY attribute in the contract inputs, a Date picker widget is automatically added to the form
    The form is already configured correctly.

Define the contract at task level, as well as operations to update the business variable

  1. Rename the first task to Update birth date

  2. In the task Execution tab > Contract section, define the contract inputs using the Add from data…​ button

  3. Select the business variable employee

  4. Follow the steps to generate a contract with a COMPLEX input employeeInput containing a birthdate attribute of type DATE ONLY (keep the option to generate the operations automatically)

Generate the 'Update' task form

  1. In the task Execution tab, Form section, generate the form by clicking on the pencil icon

  2. Since you have a DATE ONLY attribute in the contract inputs, a Date picker widget is automatically added to the form

  3. In the UI Designer, define a variable to retrieve the Employee currently stored, using the context:

    1. In the Variables panel at the bottom of the editor, click on Create a new variable

    2. Enter the name employee for the new variable

    3. Select the type external API

    4. Set the API URL of the variable to ../{{context.employee_ref.link}}
      FYI, The value returned by the REST API for the birth date will be an ISO 8601 formatted String (e.g. "1983-01-13").

  4. Set the value of the Date picker widget to employee.birthdate

  5. Update the variable formOutput to change its value to : return { 'employeeInput': $data.employee };

  6. You can delete the variable formInput

The Date picker widget supports the following types for its Value property as input:

  • ISO 8601 String variables (with or without time information)

  • Date objects

  • Long number values (Milliseconds since epoch)

However, to support pages designed with an older UI Designer version, the output of the widget is always a Javascript Date object. So it will change the type of the variable bound to the widget Value to a Date object when the user selects a date.
When sent in the JSON body of a request, it is serialized into an ISO 8601 formatted String variable with the time set to midnight UTC (e.g., 2016-12-31T00:00:00.000Z). The time information is dropped at contract level when received by the process instantiation REST API and converted to a java.time.LocalDate.

Retrieve the date from the database and display it

In another step form (or in any other page) you may want to retrieve the date and display it.
In order to do so:

  1. Create a new task named Review birth date after the existing one

  2. In the task Execution tab, Form section, generate the form by clicking on the pencil icon

  3. In the UI Designer, define a variable to retrieve the Employee currently stored, using the context.
    In order to do so, proceed the same way as you did for the previous step form:

    1. In the Variables panel at the bottom of the editor, click on Create a new variable

    2. Enter the name employee for the new variable

    3. Select the type external API

    4. Set the API URL of the variable to ../{{context.employee_ref.link}}

  4. From the Form editor palette, drop a Date picker widget on the whiteboard

  5. Set the property Read-only to yes

  6. Set its Value to employee.birthdate

You may prefer to display it in some text. In order to do so:

  1. Drop a Text widget on the whiteboard

  2. Replace the default Text property value with an expression using the uiDate filter to format the date the way you want. E.g., {{employee.birthdate | uiDate:'MM/dd/yyyy'}}
    For more information on the different formats available, click on the filters link of the Text property caption.

You can now run your process and see that the date retrieved from the business data database is consistent with the date you chose in the previous step.

Date and time without time zone

The type DATE-TIME (NO TIME ZONE) is used to hold a date-time that displays the same whatever the user’s time zone is. It can be used it for stores opening hours, or flight departure and arrival days and times, for example.
It is stored in the database as an ISO 8601 formatted Character String (e.g. "2017-01-13T13:00:00").
It uses java.time.LocalDateTime as Java type.

The following sections show how to create, update, and display a Flight object with a local departure date and time (that should display the same local time, no matter where you are in the world.

Define the business data

  1. In the studio, open the Business Data Model editor (in menu Development > Business Data Model > Manage…​)

  2. Create a business object Flight with an attribute departureTime of type DATE-TIME (NO TIME ZONE)

  3. Create a new process

  4. In the process Data tab, create a new business variable flight of the type Flight

Define the contract at pool level, as well as the script to initialize the business variable

  1. In the process Execution tab > Contract section, define the contract inputs using the Add from data…​ button

  2. Select the business variable flight

  3. Follow the steps to generate a contract with a COMPLEX input flightInput containing a departureTime attribute of type DATE-TIME (NO TIME ZONE) (keep the option to generate the variable initialization script automatically)

Generate the process instantiation form

  1. In the process Execution tab, Form section, generate the form by clicking on the pencil icon

  2. Since you have a DATE-TIME (NO TIME ZONE) attribute in the contract inputs, a Date time picker widget is automatically added to the form
    The widget is already configured not to handle the user time zone.

Define the contract at task level, as well as operations to update business varaible

  1. Rename the first task to Update departure time

  2. In the task Execution tab > Contract section, define the contract inputs using the Add from data…​ button

  3. Select the business variable flight

  4. Follow the steps to generate a contract with a COMPLEX input flightInput containing a departureTime attribute of type DATE-TIME (NO TIME ZONE) (keep the option to generate the operations automatically)

Generate the 'Update' task form

  1. In the task Execution tab, Form section, generate the form by clicking on the pencil icon

  2. Since you have a DATE-TIME (NO TIME ZONE) attribute in the contract inputs, a Date time picker widget is automatically added to the form

  3. In the UI Designer, define a variable to retrieve the Flight currently stored using the context:

    1. In the Variables panel at the bottom of the editor, click on Create a new variable

    2. Enter the name flight for the new variable

    3. Select the type external API

    4. Set the API URL of the variable to ../{{context.flight_ref.link}}
      FYI, The value returned by the REST API for the flight departure time will be an ISO 8601 formatted String (e.g. "2017-01-13T15:00:00").

  4. Set the Value of the Date time picker widget to flight.departureTime

  5. Update the variable formOutput to change its value to: return { 'flightInput': $data.flight };

  6. You can delete the variable formInput

The Date time picker widget output is an ISO 8601 formatted String (e.g. "2017-01-13T15:00:00").
At contract level, when received by the task execution REST API, it is converted to a java.time.LocalDateTime.

Retrieve the date and time from the database and display them

In another step form (or in any other page), you may want to retrieve the date and time and display them.
In order to do so:

  1. Create a new task Review departure time after the existing one

  2. In the task Execution tab, Form section, generate the form by clicking on the pencil icon

  3. In the UI Designer, define a variable to retrieve the Flight currently stored using the context.
    In order to do so, proceed the same way as you did for the previous step form:

    1. In the Variables panel at the bottom of the editor, click on Create a new variable

    2. Enter the name flight for the new variable

    3. select the type external API

    4. Set the API URL of the variable to ../{{context.flight_ref.link}}

  4. From the Form editor palette, drop a Date time picker widget on the whiteboard

  5. Set the property Read-only to yes

  6. Set the property Handle time zone to no

  7. Set its Value to flight.departureTime

You may prefer to display it in some text. In order to do so:

  1. Drop a Text widget on the whiteboard

  2. Replace the default Text property value with an expression using the uiDate filter to format the date and time the way you want. E.g., {{flight.departureDateTime | uiDate:'MM/dd/yyyy h:mm a'}}
    For more information on the different formats available, click on the filters link of the Text property caption.

You can now run your process and see that the departure date and time retrieved from the business data database is consistent with the date and time you chose in the previous step.
If you change your system time zone while viewing the steps and refresh the page, you will see that the displayed time remains the same.

Date and time displayed in the user time zone

The type DATE-TIME (TIME ZONE) is used to hold a date-time whose displayed value should adapt to the user’s time zone (e.g., the day and time of a meeting with participants from multiple time zones).
It is stored in database as an ISO 8601 formatted Character String (e.g.,2017-01-13T13:00:00Z). It uses java.time.OffsetDateTime as Java type.

The following sections show how to create, update, and display a Meeting object with a start date and time that reflect the user time zone when it is displayed.

Define the business data

  1. In the studio, open the Business Data Model editor (in menu Development > Business Data Model > Manage…​)

  2. Create a business object Meeting with an attribute startTime of type DATE-TIME (TIME ZONE)

  3. Create a new process

  4. In the process Data tab, create a new business variable meeting of the type Meeting

Define the contract at process level, as well as the script to initialize the business variable

  1. In the process Execution tab > Contract section, define the contract inputs using the Add from data…​ button

  2. Select the business variable meeting

  3. Follow the steps to generate a contract with a COMPLEX input meetingInput containing a startTime attribute of type DATE-TIME (TIME ZONE) (keep the option to generate the variable initialization script automatically)

Generate the process instantiation form

  1. In the process Execution tab, Form section, generate the form by clicking on the pencil icon

  2. Since you have a DATE-TIME (TIME ZONE) attribute in the contract inputs, a Date time picker widget is automatically added to the form
    The widget is already configured to handle the user time zone.

Define the contract at task level, as well as the operations to update the business variable

  1. Rename the first task to Update start time

  2. In the task Execution tab > Contract section, define the contract inputs using the Add from data…​ button

  3. Select the business variable meeting

  4. Follow the steps to generate a contract with a COMPLEX input meetingInput containing a startTime attribute of type DATE-TIME (TIME ZONE) (keep the option to generate the operations automatically)

Generate the 'Update' task form

  1. In the task Execution tab, Form section, generate the form by clicking on the pencil icon

  2. Since you have a DATE-TIME (TIME ZONE) attribute in the contract inputs, a Date time picker widget is automatically added to the form

  3. In the UI Designer, define a variable to retrieve the meeting currently stored using the context:

    1. In the Variables panel at the bottom of the editor, click on Create a new variable

    2. Enter the name meeting for the new variable

    3. Select the type external API

    4. Set the API URL of the variable to ../{{context.meeting_ref.link}}
      FYI, The value returned by the REST API for the meeting start time will be an ISO 8601 formatted String (e.g. "2017-01-13T15:00:00Z").

  4. Set the Value of the Date time picker widget to meeting.startTime

  5. Update the variable formOutput to change its value to: return { 'meetingInput': $data.meeting };

  6. You can delete the variable formInput

The Date time picker widget output is an ISO 8601 formatted String representing the selected date and time in UTC (e.g. "2017-01-13T13:00:00Z").
At contract level when received by the task execution REST API, it is converted to a java.time.OffsetDateTime.
Unless the user is in the GMT time zone, there will be an offset between the time he selects and the time stored in database.

Retrieve the date and time from the database and display them

In another step form (or in any other page) you may want to retrieve the date and time and display them.
In order to do so:

  1. Create a new task Review meeting time after the existing one

  2. In the task Execution tab, Form section, generate the form by clicking on the pencil icon

  3. In the UI Designer, define a variable to retrieve the Flight currently stored using the context.
    In order to do so, proceed the same way as you did for the previous step form :

    1. In the Variables panel at the bottom of the editor, click on Create a new variable

    2. Enter the name meeting for the new variable

    3. Select the type external API

    4. Set the API URL of the variable to ../{{context.meeting_ref.link}}

  4. From the Form editor palette, drop a Date time picker widget on the whiteboard

  5. Set the property Read-only to yes

  6. Make sure the property Handle time zone is set to yes

  7. Set its Value to meeting.startTime

You may prefer to display it in some text. In order to do so:

  1. Drop a Text widget on the whiteboard

  2. Replace the default Text property value with an expression using the uiDate filter to format the date the way you want. E.g., {{meeting.startTime | uiDate:'MM/dd/yyyy h:mm a'}}
    For more information on the different formats available, click on the filters link of the Text property caption.

You can now run your process and see that the date and time retrieved from the business data database is consistent with the date and time you chose in the previous step.
If you change your system time zone while viewing the steps and refresh the page, you will see that the displayed time adapts to the new time zone.