Formatting a Date in PHP using ISO Format

We all know how to format a date in PHP when using the date functions, but what happens if you’ve only got the ISO format? This doesn’t work with PHP’s date functions.

Well I got this exact situation whilst using Zend_Locale in Zend Framework. Because the locale data files utilised are sourced externally the format comes back in ISO format.  A conversion function is provided (Zend_Locale_Format::convertPhpToIsoFormat) however that’s converting the wrong way and won’t help in this situation.

I went ahead and wrote a quick function which will return a formatted date using a provided ISO format, rather than PHP format.  It works like the PHP function and accepts the same parameters.

You can find the function as a gist on github:


function date_iso($format, $timestamp = null)
	if ($timestamp === null) {
		$timestamp = time();

	$convert = array(
		'a' => 'A' , 'B' => 'B', 'D' => 'z', 'ddd' => 't', 'dd' => 'd', 'd' => 'j',
		'EEEE' => 'l', 'EE' => 'D', 'eee' => 'N', 'e' => 'w', 'HH' => 'H', 'H' => 'G',
		'hh' => 'h', 'h' => 'g', 'I' => 'I', 'l' => 'L', 'MMMM' => 'F', 'MMM' => 'M',
		'MM' => 'm', 'M' => 'n', 'mm' => 'i', 'r' => 'r', 'SS' => 'S', 'ss' => 's',
		'U' => 'U', 'ww' => 'W', 'X' => 'Z', 'YYYY' => 'o', 'yyyy' => 'Y', 'yy' => 'y',
		'ZZZZ' => 'P', 'zzzz' => 'e', 'Z' => 'O', 'z' => 'T'

	$values = preg_split(
	foreach ($values as $key => $value) {
		if (isset($convert[$value])) {
			$values[$key] = date($convert[$value], $timestamp);
	return implode($values);

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