Rant About Unix Time Converters

Every now and again, I find myself needing to quickly convert a Unix timestamp to a human readable date and time and vice versa.

So I do what most people would do and Google something like "unix timestamp conversion" and, of course, I get plenty of results.

But why are they all have so much noise on them? I just want to convert a timestamp and this is what I get:

Example 1

This one starts off good as I land on the tool straight away. But look at all those text boxes! And all that information. The quote "based on seconds since..." is repeated in both boxes for some reason. In the top box you have "Convert Unix Timestamp" then on the first text box "UNIX TimeStamp" again (and for some reason the s is capitalised).

If we are going to talk about grammar, there are capitals just thrown around randomly ("Date/time" in the top box "Date/Time" in the second one for example).

If I have come to this site, it means I know what a Unix timestamp is and I know what I want to to do. All that information is totally pointless and noisy.

By the way, I found another site almost identical to this one but with buttons to share it on social media around it.

Example 2

I land on this page and where do I start? Text boxes everywhere! There are 2 areas for converting from human to Unix for some reason. Then right at the bottom you have some kind of seconds converter. Just all round noise for a simple task.

Example 3

This one has got a great .com name and is getting better. The converter box has the simple 2 sections although still the Human date is broken down with hints all over the place. It is a shame the month and day boxes aren't a little bit bigger to not cut off the M and D.

But then on the left, you have all that other stuff! The current date and time in every single format! In fact, when you do the conversion, that is what you get: the date and time in every single format.

Don't even get me started on that information at the bottom. Again, if I am on this site, I probably know what a Unix timestamp (not time space stamp) is.

Example 4

This is actually almost perfect. For starters, they have a single text box that does everything. But there is still too much noise.

Again, it has an explanation as to what a Unix timestamp is. It even has a mission statement!

Then when you do the conversion, it gives me code samples of how to do timestamp conversions in various languages! Why? Why would I want that when I am just converting a timestamp.

But, it does put the time in a parameter called 't', meaning that I can save my result, and the result itself is pretty clean. This website is almost exactly how it should be but still has extra unnecessary stuff.

Example 5

This one continues the "1 box for all theme" which is great! But then there is the rest of the page! Why does evey site feel the need to explain the Unix Timestamp is! If I am there, I already know! This one has things laid out like they own and are trying to sell it to me.

Look at the repeating information:

  • The URL has timestamp and converter in it.
  • "Simple converter tool for Unix Timestamps"
  • In the text box "enter timestamp to convert"
  • Button: "convert"

I think it is trying to tell us something.

Also why does the hint in the box say "Enter a time", when the examples clearly show dates as well as the time.

So How Would I Do It?

I know what you are thinking.

Its easy to criticise, if you think you can do it better why don't you?

I asked myself the exact same thing.

If you head over to convertunixti.me right now, you will find the conversion tool the way that I think it should be done.

One text field. One button. Done. It gives you the full date and time if you give it a Unix timestamp in UTC and if you provide a date it will do the reverse conversion. In the same textbox. No need for 2 different pages or 5 billion text fields for the date to be broken down.

It even automatically focusses on the textbox as soon as you hit the website so you can start typing straight away and you can press Enter.

Also, you will notice, there is no need for trying to guess the parameters in the URL: you can put your request straight in the URL and it will work e.g. convertunixti.me/2015-12-09.

No noise. No pointless explanation. I was even in two minds about having that title.


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