ANN: pytz 2004b.2 - Python world timezone library

Stuart Bishop stuart at
Sun Jul 25 22:42:24 CEST 2004

Hash: SHA1

Changes for this release:
	- Improved localtime handling, and added a localize() method enabling
	  correct creation of local times.

pytz - World Timezone Definitions for Python

:Author: Stuart Bishop <stuart at>
:Version: $Revision: 1.10 $


pytz brings the Olson tz database into Python. This library allows
accurate and cross platform timezone calculations using Python 2.3
or higher. It also solves the issue of ambiguous times at the end
of daylight savings, which you can read more about in the Python
Library Reference (datetime.tzinfo).

546 of the Olsen timezones are supported [*]_.

Note that if you perform date arithmetic on local times that cross
DST boundaries, the results may be in an incorrect timezone (ie.
subtract 1 minute from 2002-10-27 1:00 EST and you get 2002-10-27
0:59 EST instead of the correct 2002-10-27 1:59 EDT). This cannot
be resolved without modifying the Python datetime implementation.
However, these tzinfo classes provide a normalize() method which
allows you to correct these values.


This is a standard Python distutils distribution. To install the
package, run the following command as an administrative user::

     python install

Example & Usage

 >>> from datetime import datetime, timedelta
 >>> from pytz import timezone
 >>> utc = timezone('UTC')
 >>> eastern = timezone('US/Eastern')
 >>> fmt = '%Y-%m-%d %H:%M:%S %Z%z'

The preferred way of dealing with times is to always work in UTC,
converting to localtime only when generating output to be read
by humans.

 >>> utc_dt = datetime(2002, 10, 27, 6, 0, 0, tzinfo=utc)
 >>> loc_dt = utc_dt.astimezone(eastern)
 >>> loc_dt.strftime(fmt)
'2002-10-27 01:00:00 EST-0500'

This library also allows you to do date arithmetic using local
times, although it is more complicated than working in UTC as you
need to use the `normalize` method to handle daylight savings time
and other timezone transitions. In this example, `loc_dt` is set
to the instant when daylight savings time ends in the US/Eastern

 >>> before = loc_dt - timedelta(minutes=10)
 >>> before.strftime(fmt)
'2002-10-27 00:50:00 EST-0500'
 >>> eastern.normalize(before).strftime(fmt)
'2002-10-27 01:50:00 EDT-0400'
 >>> after = eastern.normalize(before + timedelta(minutes=20))
 >>> after.strftime(fmt)
'2002-10-27 01:10:00 EST-0500'

Creating localtimes is also tricky, and the reason why working with
local times is not recommended. Unfortunately, you cannot just pass
a 'tzinfo' argument when constructing a datetime (see the next section
for more details)

 >>> dt = datetime(2002, 10, 27, 1, 30, 0)
 >>> dt1 = eastern.localize(dt, is_dst=True)
 >>> dt1.strftime(fmt)
'2002-10-27 01:30:00 EDT-0400'
 >>> dt2 = eastern.localize(dt, is_dst=False)
 >>> dt2.strftime(fmt)
'2002-10-27 01:30:00 EST-0500'

Problems with Localtime

The major problem we have to deal with is that certain datetimes
may occur twice in a year. For example, in the US/Eastern timezone
on the last Sunday morning in October, the following sequence

     - 01:00 EDT occurs
     - 1 hour later, instead of 2:00am the clock is turned back 1 hour
       and 01:00 happens again (this time 01:00 EST)

In fact, every instant between 01:00 and 02:00 occurs twice. This means
that if you try and create a time in the US/Eastern timezone using
the standard datetime syntax, there is no way to specify if you meant
before of after the end-of-daylight-savings-time transition.

 >>> loc_dt = datetime(2002, 10, 27, 1, 30, 00, tzinfo=eastern)
 >>> loc_dt.strftime(fmt)
'2002-10-27 01:30:00 EST-0500'

As you can see, the system has chosen one for you and there is a 50%
chance of it being out by one hour. For some applications, this does
not matter. However, if you are trying to schedule meetings with people
in different timezones or analyze log files it is not acceptable. The
best and simplest solution is to stick with using UTC. If you insist
on working with local times, this library provides a facility for
constructing them almost unambiguously

 >>> loc_dt = datetime(2002, 10, 27, 1, 30, 00)
 >>> est_dt = eastern.localize(loc_dt, is_dst=True)
 >>> edt_dt = eastern.localize(loc_dt, is_dst=False)
 >>> print est_dt.strftime(fmt), '/', edt_dt.strftime(fmt)
2002-10-27 01:30:00 EDT-0400 / 2002-10-27 01:30:00 EST-0500

Note that although this handles many cases, it is still not possible
to handle all. In cases where countries change their timezone 
cases like the end-of-daylight-savings-time occur with no way of 
the ambiguity. For example, in 1915 Warsaw switched from Warsaw time to
Central European time. So at the stroke of midnight on August 4th 1915
the clocks were wound back 24 minutes creating a ambiguous time period
that cannot be specified without referring to the timezone abbreviation
or the actual UTC offset.

What is UTC

`UTC` is Universal Time, formerly known as Greenwich Mean Time or GMT.
All other timezones are given as offsets from UTC. No daylight savings
time occurs in UTC, making it a useful timezone to perform date 
without worrying about the confusion and ambiguities caused by daylight
savings time transitions, your country changing its timezone, or mobile
computers that move roam through multiple timezones.


BSD style license. I'm happy to relicense this code if necessary
for inclusion in other open source projects.

Latest Versions

This package will be updated after releases of the Olsen timezone 
The latest version can be downloaded from Sourceforge_. The code that
is used to generate this distribution is available in the Sourceforge_
project's CVS repository.

.. _Sourceforge:

Issues & Limitations

- - Offsets from UTC are rounded to the nearest whole minute, so timezones
   such as Europe/Amsterdam pre 1937 will be up to 30 seconds out. This 
   a limitation of the Python datetime library.

Further Reading

More info than you want to know about timezones::


Stuart Bishop <stuart at>

.. [*]  The missing few are for Riyadh Solar Time in 1987, 1988 and 
         As Saudi Arabia gave up trying to cope with their timezone
         definition, I see no reason to complicate my code further
         to cope with them.  (I understand the intention was to set
         sunset to 0:00 local time, the start of the Islamic day.
         In the best case caused the DST offset to change daily and
         worst case caused the DST offset to change each instant
         depending on how you interpreted the ruling.)

- --  
Stuart Bishop <stuart at>
Version: GnuPG v1.2.3 (Darwin)


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