Title: time.strptime too strict? should it assume current year?
Type: behavior Stage: patch review
Components: Library (Lib) Versions: Python 3.0, Python 2.6, Python 2.5
Status: closed Resolution: rejected
Dependencies: Superseder:
Assigned To: brett.cannon Nosy List: brett.cannon, gregory.p.smith, schuppenies, tebeka
Priority: low Keywords: easy, patch

Created on 2008-03-03 21:41 by gregory.p.smith, last changed 2009-04-02 05:42 by brett.cannon. This issue is now closed.

File name Uploaded Description Edit
_strptime.diff tebeka, 2008-03-20 18:58 path to default to current year
test_strptime.diff schuppenies, 2008-03-21 00:56 adaption of the corresponding test case
Messages (5)
msg63236 - (view) Author: Gregory P. Smith (gregory.p.smith) * (Python committer) Date: 2008-03-03 21:41
Some common python utilities had problems on Feb 29 this year when
parsing dates using format strings that did not include a year in them.

>>> time.strptime('Feb 29', '%b %d')
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "<stdin>", line 1, in ?
  File "/usr/lib/python2.4/", line 425, in strptime
    julian = datetime_date(year, month, day).toordinal() - \
ValueError: day is out of range for month

This is apparently because python assumes the year is 1900 unless it
explicitly parses another year out of the string.

Applications can work around this by always adding a year and a %Y to
the string they are parsing.

But not all date manipulating applications care about years.  In this
case the application was fail2ban, bug report and patches to it here:

Should the year default to 1900 (the equivalent of what the much more
forgiving C API does by leaving struct tm tm_year = 0) or should this
error be raised?  If the answer is yes, works as is this is easy and
just turns into us adding a note in the documentation to mention the

I do believe this was a valid bug in fail2ban as assuming the current
year for date parsing is a bad idea and will do the wrong thing when
parsing across a year change.

Python's strptime is much more strict than C strptime (glibc's C
strptime is happy to return tm_mon 2 tm_mday 31.  Its range checking is

here's a C test case to play with its behavior:

#include <assert.h>
#include <stdio.h>
#include <time.h>
int main(int argc, char *argv[]) {
  unsigned long ret, parsed;
  assert(argc == 2);
  struct tm tm = { 0 };
  ret = strptime(argv[1], "%b %d", &tm);
  parsed = ret - (unsigned long)(argv[1]);
  printf("ret 0x%x  parsed %d  tm_mon %d  tm_mday %d  tm_year %d\n",
         ret, parsed,
         tm.tm_mon, tm.tm_mday, tm.tm_year);

% ./foo 'Feb 28'
ret 0xffffda8a  parsed 6  tm_mon 1  tm_mday 28  tm_year 0
% ./foo 'Feb 29'
ret 0xffffda8a  parsed 6  tm_mon 1  tm_mday 29  tm_year 0
% ./foo 'Feb 31'
ret 0xffffda8a  parsed 6  tm_mon 1  tm_mday 31  tm_year 0
% ./foo 'Feb 32'
ret 0x0  parsed 9596  tm_mon 1  tm_mday 0  tm_year 0
msg63239 - (view) Author: Brett Cannon (brett.cannon) * (Python committer) Date: 2008-03-03 22:21
The documentation already mentions that the default values when
information left out is (1900, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, -1) so the docs are
already clear. If you want to generate a patch to make the default year
be this year I would be willing to review it and consider applying it. I
doubt very much code would break because of this.
msg64192 - (view) Author: Miki Tebeka (tebeka) * Date: 2008-03-20 18:58
Here is a patch, hope it'll make it to 2.6
msg64227 - (view) Author: Robert Schuppenies (schuppenies) * (Python committer) Date: 2008-03-21 00:56
Applying the _strptime.diff patch broke the _strptime
test("test_defaults"). Once you change the year, you also have to adapt
the day of week, as this becomes dynamic, too. The rest remains the
same, though. I attached a patch to this test which tests for the
new-years day of the current year instead of 1900, but I feel like
changing the semantic of the default value is no minor change. Also, I
am not sure what the documentation should say then.
msg85169 - (view) Author: Brett Cannon (brett.cannon) * (Python committer) Date: 2009-04-02 05:42
After having thought about this I have decided I am going to stick with
the current semantics. Having the year change underneath code based
solely on when it executes will cause more problems than it will solve.
Date User Action Args
2009-04-02 05:42:12brett.cannonsetstatus: open -> closed
resolution: rejected
messages: + msg85169
2009-02-11 03:14:59brett.cannonsetstage: patch review
2008-03-21 08:44:15brett.cannonsetassignee: brett.cannon
2008-03-21 00:56:22schuppeniessetfiles: + test_strptime.diff
nosy: + schuppenies
messages: + msg64227
2008-03-20 18:58:21tebekasetfiles: + _strptime.diff
nosy: + tebeka
messages: + msg64192
keywords: + patch
2008-03-03 22:21:53brett.cannonsetnosy: + brett.cannon
messages: + msg63239
2008-03-03 21:41:25gregory.p.smithcreate