LabKey Server provides flexible formatting for dates, times, and numbers, so you can control how they are displayed to users. Using formatting you can:
  • Specify how dates are displayed, for example:
    • 04/05/2016
    • May 4 2016
    • Wednesday May 4
  • Specify how times are displayed, for example
    • 01:23pm
    • 1:23pm Pacific Standard Time
  • Specify how numbers are displayed, for example
    • 1.1
    • 1.10
  • Determine granularity of the date/time display, for example:
    • June 4 2016
    • June 4 2016 1pm
    • June 4 2016 1:20pm
  • Set up formats that apply to the entire site, an entire project, or a folder.
  • Override more generally prescribed formats in a particular context, for example, specify that a particular field or folder should follow a different format than the parent container.

Note that date formatting described in this topic is different from date parsing. Formatting determines how date and time data are displayed by the server. Parsing determines how the server interprets date strings.

You can customize how dates, times and numbers are displayed on a field-by-field basis, or specify default formats on a folder-level, project-level or site-wide basis. The server decides which format to use for a particular field by looking first at the properties for that field. If no format property is found at the field-level, it checks the container tree, starting with the folder then up the folder hierarchy to the site level. In detail, decision process goes as follows:

  • The server checks to see if there is a field-level format set on the field itself. If it finds a field-specific format, it uses that format. If no format is found, it looks to the folder-level format. (To set a field-specific format, see Set Formats on a Per-Field Basis.)
  • If a folder-level format is found, it uses that format. If no folder-level format is found, it looks in the parent folder, then that parent's parent folder, etc. until the project level is reached and it looks there. (To set a folder-level default format, see Set Folder Display Formats)
  • If a project-level format is found, it uses that format. If no project-level format is found, it looks to the site-level format. (To set a project-level default format, see Set Project Display Formats.)
  • To set the site-level format, see Set Formats Globally (Site-Level). Note that if no site-level format is specified, the server will default to these formats:
    • Date field: yyyy-MM-dd
    • Date-time field: yyyy-MM-dd HH:mm
When LabKey Server is first installed, it uses these initial formatting patterns:
  • Date fields: Year-Month-Date, which is the standard ISO date format, for example 2010-01-31. The Java string format is yyyy-MM-dd
  • Date-time fields: Year-Month-Date Hour:Minute, for example 2010-01-31 9:30. The Java string format is yyyy-MM-dd HH:mm
  • For date-time fields where displaying a time value would be superfluous, the system overrides the site-wide initial format (Year-Month-Date Hour:Minute) and instead uses a date-only format (Year-Month-Date). Examples include visit dates in study datasets, SpecimenDrawDate in specimens, and BirthDate in various patient schemas. To change the format behavior on these fields, override the query metadata -- see Query Metadata.
A standard Java format string specifies how dates, times, and numbers are displayed. For example, the format string

yyyy-MM-dd

specifies dates to be displayed as follows

2000-01-01

For details on format strings, see Date and Number Formats Reference.

Set Formats Globally (Site-Level)

An admin can set formats at the site level by managing look and feel settings.

  • Select Admin > Site > Admin Console.
  • Click Look and Feel Settings.
  • Scroll down to Customize date and number formats.
  • Enter format strings as desired for date, date-time, or number fields.
  • Click Save.

Set Project Display Formats

An admin can standardize display formats at the project level so they display consistently in the intended scope, which does not need to be consistent with site-wide settings.

  • Navigate to the target project.
  • Select Admin > Folder > Project Settings.
  • On the Properties tab, scroll down to Customize date and number formats.
  • Enter format strings as desired for date, date-time, or number fields.
  • Click Save.

Set Folder Display Formats

An admin can standardize display formats at the folder level so they display consistently in the intended scope, which does not need to be consistent with either project or site settings.

  • Navigate to the target folder.
  • Select Admin > Folder > Management.
  • Click the Formats tab.
  • Enter format strings as desired for date, date-time, or number fields.
  • Click Save.

Set Formats on a Per-Field Basis

To do this, you use the field property editor:

  • Open a grid view of the dataset of interest.
  • Click Manage.
  • Click Edit Definition.
  • Select the field of interest.
  • In the field property management panel, select the Format tab.
  • Enter the desired format string directly, or use the shortcuts described below.
  • Click Save.

Date Format Shortcuts

At the field-level, instead of providing a specific format string, you can use one of the following shortcut values to specify a standard format. A shortcut value tells the server to use the current folder's format setting (a format which may be inherited from the project or site setting).

Format Shortcut StringDescription
DateUse the folder-level format setting, specified at Admin > Folder > Management > Formats tab > Default display format for dates.
DateTimeUse the folder-level format setting, specified at Admin > Folder > Management > Formats tab > Default display format for date-times.
TimeCurrently hard-coded to "HH:mm:ss"

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