Zotero appearance - How do I change date format in "Date Added?

I have recently discovered how useful the 'date added " column is in allowing me to remember what I have added recently. However, I find the "Month / Day / Year" format most disconcerting and a kind of psychological stumbling block, since as an Australian I consistently work with "Day/ Month / Year". I can't see an obvious way to change this in Zotero "Options". Is there one?
  • On Windows, the Date Added format is based on the Firefox locale (which is either the default locale of the Firefox build you're using or the value of general.useragent.locale in about:config). Locales ending in US, FM, PW, and PH will be month-day-year. Everything else (e.g., "en-GB") will be day-month-year.

    On OS X and Linux, Zotero tries to figure out the date order from the value of the JavaScript toLocaleDateString() function. You can see what this is by copying "javascript:alert(new Date().toLocaleDateString())" (without quotes) into the Firefox address bar. For some reason, though, at least on my Mac, this format doesn't change even if I adjust my OS settings and restart Firefox. So it may be best to take out this auto-detection and just rely on the hard-coded locale rules mentioned above.
  • Hmm,
    Scary but effective for technodummies! I'm using Windows. I changed it to en-GB and the dates now look "normal" to me.
    However it would be really nice to have a date option (or a general set of appearance options) in "Options".
  • edited April 30, 2009
    Since Firefox already supports locale-based customization, I don't think it makes sense to duplicate Firefox functionality. Zotero automatically uses the Firefox locale.

    The real issue is that you're essentially using a non-native build of Firefox, even though it happens to be in the same language. You presumably downloaded the U.S. English Firefox build, but it sounds like the U.K. English Firefox build would be better for you, as, among other things, it would cause Zotero to display dates correctly without your adjusting any settings. I don't know which version the Firefox site suggests for Australian users, but for most users it will automatically suggest a version in the appropriate language and this wouldn't be an issue (because all non-U.S. builds use day-month-year).

    For people who can't switch Firefox builds, there are Firefox extensions to make changing the locale setting easier (which will affect extensions like Zotero, spell-check, and website settings but not the main Firefox interface).
  • Wouldn't it make more sense to, for all locales, use a year-month-day format with leading zeros (2002-04-29) for all the columns with dates? That would make it much easier to scan a sorted date list.
  • I don't think so. At least, I can't think of any programs that do that. (Mail clients, for example, are almost always sorted by date, and they don't use Y-M-D.) Y-M-D is a standard computer format (and is how Zotero stores dates internally for sorting), but people aren't really used to reading it.
  • I see that you're right. I must have been dreaming too much of electric sheep.
  • Found the Mozilla Europe site, and installed the UK version, but then found the dictionary was still US, so found an Australian dictionary addon. Now I have a spell check that lets me have all the 'U's back in labour, colour etc, and allows me to go to the theatre, pay with a cheque, and to organise instead of organize! The dates remained logically smallest to largest. Love many things American, but removing the etymological sense from spelling and the order from dates is a touch 'electric sheep'.
    Zotero looks like it did after I modified about:config. It would be good to have a spell check for titles in Zotero now that things spell ok in Firefox!
  • Hi Dan,
    I'm on UK everything, with a GB firefox locale, but the
    javascript:alert(new Date().toLocaleDateString())
    is still in US order.

    Can this be changed? By me? Or in the next build?

  • I have the same problem as komrade.

    I am using Firefox 3.6.9 omn Mac OS X 10.6. It seems to be a Swedish build (if I read the about dialogue message correct), but the date format is still the US american one (which I always have found terribly confusing, btw. Who on earth came up with that one?).

    I have tried the recommended locale switcher extension, but it did not make any difference. (The javascript function still returns the US format.)

    It thus seems to be a Firefox bug, but it hits Zotero.
  • I'm using zotero standalone with Chrome. The date display in the center pane of Zotero is in the US format. It does appear the same with zotero on Firefox. I checked how was configured my Firefox and both extensions.zotero.export.bibliographyLocale and general.useragent.locale are set to fr-FR. Any suggestions to get the day/month/year format ?
  • I've got the same problem - US format dates on Zotero Standalone on OSX. Anyone know how to get the date into UK format?
  • I have this issue as well. I'm using the standalone version on a Mac. I set these parameters to en-gb:


    I also set "intl.locale.matchOS" to false but that didn't help either. This seems like a bug to me. Any ideas?
  • I'm using the UK version, and the dates are American.

    Come on Zotero devs, this needs fixing properly. Add the ability to select the US format, UK format, or ISO format (long and/or short).
  • edited February 29, 2012
    Yes I have the same silly problem too with Zotero standalone. (I checked Firefox about:config -- fine. Locale on my machine is GB etc - fine.)

    There is no way to fix the Zotero bad US date format. I think only the US uses their odd mm/dd/yy date system. The Zotero programmers just need to pick up the Locale of the machine properly - it appears that they have done some sloppy coding not taking the Locale into account! This is really a BUG.

    Come on guys. Please fix this and make the WORLD happy. Thanks in advance.
  • Not sure you want to rely on that particular motivational technique in the future, Steven, but this will be fixed for 3.0.4. (The current code actually goes out of its way to get this right, but the underlying Mozilla function it's using doesn't seem to follow the configured locale properly on Mac and Linux, so instead we're just going to go with a giant list from Wikipedia and hope it's accurate.)
  • edited February 29, 2012

    Thanks indeed for your personal response! I am sorry if I was rather tough onwhat is otherwise a tremendously tool.

    I wanted to get some attention so I was tough. Honestly, you should test these things and be more realistic about the rest of the planet outside of the USA. The fact is many US software house are really very sloppy with Locales, perhaps you are seeing this in what Mozilla has produced!

    Any way thanks again and I shall think of some other motivational techniques in the future! I look forward to 3.0.4.

    All the best,

  • edited August 21, 2012
    This still doesn't work for me (Zotero 3.0.8). I have windows set to Australian everything, except the keyboard (US-EN), and Zotero standalone/Firefox plugin still displays dates as mm/dd/yyyy.

    Can you PLEASE give us some idea when this will be fixed?
  • Hi Flutable,

    Unfortunately, 1) Coming from the US, they really do not realise just how irksome this problem is to the rest of the world -- during the design they probably did not even think that there could be more than one date system. 2) So consequently, they did not allow for non-US formats when the initial coding was done. It is probably hardcoded.

    Thus, it is really hard to modify now when it should have been trivial. This explains the delay?

    Its a great program but we are let down by confusing dates.

    Dan -- Please put this in the schedule and make Zotero a global program.
  • I think this works for me, unless you mean something else. If it doesn't work for you, it's because Zotero Standalone isn't picking up the locale correctly from your OS or because you have an en-US version of Firefox.

    Steven_Laycock: I highly recommend you read Zotero's date handling code before making any more libelous claims.
  • Hi Simon

    Ooops. Sorry, I seem to have rattled your cage.

    "Libelous claim" eek -- that IS STRONG. Seems we REALLY do have a problem of understanding!

    I am using Zotero standalone. And, of course, I am not running an en-US version of Firefox. I am running an en-GB version of course, other users world wide will run many languages! If I were running a en-US version I probably would not care.

    Also, don't you think it rather odd that a simple user with a simple request is asked by you to read code (scary)! What I can see at the end that

    _localeDateOrder = 'dmy'; "

    BUT this is NOT what is output so it IS a BUG. IF this code snippet is from Zotero Standalone, then it was NOT TESTED for THE WORLD. Progress!

    Next step, PLEASE, can somebody who understands these things PLEASE test Simon's bit code running other versions of Firefox (Not the US version) and make what will probably be a simple correction. The first comment here for the bug was in 2009.

    Request to Simon and Dan, why do you both get so upset? Zotero is a great job. It really is. Please understand date format is a legitimate concern.

    Hope nobody considers this libelous -- if so, my apologies in advance.
  • edited August 21, 2012
    Let's not make this into a big thing.

    @Steven_Laycock: You wrote:
    Coming from the US, they really do not realise just how irksome this problem is to the rest of the world -- during the design they probably did not even think that there could be more than one date system.
    With this statement, you attributed insensitivity to the developers of which they do not suffer. By examining the source code, you will see that they did indeed consider the importance of differing date formats across language domains. If you can't read and interpret the source, you aren't in a position to make broad assertions of this kind, and your best way forward would be to back down a bit, and read the chapter on civility.
  • edited August 21, 2012
    Next step, PLEASE, can somebody who understands these things PLEASE test Simon's bit code running other versions of Firefox (Not the US version) and make what will probably be a simple correction.
    I generated the screenshot I linked to in my previous post with en-GB Firefox, so I am pretty sure it works (unless you are talking about something else, which still isn't clear to me). But Firefox is not Zotero Standalone, and, as I wrote above, it's possible that Zotero Standalone isn't picking up your locale.

    In Zotero Standalone, open about:config (Preferences->Advanced->about:config), set intl.locale.matchOS to false, and set general.useragent.locale to en-GB and see if it makes things look like you want them to. If this is the issue, it's a bug we inherit from Mozilla and it's probably not going to be an easy fix.
  • Re Fbennet: Apologies for comment. Did not mean to cause offense (surprised).

    "Coming from the US, they really do not realise just how irksome this problem is to the rest of the world -- during the design they probably did not even think that there could be more than one date system." ==> I withdraw this remark.

    This was written because I've run in to problems before with parochialism. I could tell you most amusing stories (living in Texas, Atlanta, Boston and California). Sorry about "broad assertions". My evidence was not by looking at the code, but seeing that the problem existed since 2009. It is irksome, and appears to have been ignored!

    Simon **THANKS**. I'll test it and report. I was running Zotero standalone. The main Zotero for Firefox worked fine for me before. I use Chrome a lot now because I had some serious performance slowdowns with versions of Firefox which have now since been fixed.

    Frank (I guess) YOU ARE A HERO!! So much better!

    The (minor) cage rattling seems to have worked. REALLY sorry for the offense. Your instructions were not quite right so I shall clarify for other users.

    Update to latest version, for me 3.0.8
    Tools ==> Options ==> Miscellaneous (at bottom left) ==> warning message ==> set intl.locale.matchOS to false, and set general.useragent.locale to en-GB

    I owe you one!! :) :) :)
  • Should have thanked SIMON. Anyway. I owe both much thanks.

    So its a Mozilla bug it would appear. Perhaps tell them?
  • They know: https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=697238

    This isn't a high priority issue for Mozilla. They provide different versions of Firefox for every locale, so they don't hit this code path.

    With that said, please don't post to the bug unless you have a patch. It's not going to help.
  • If anyone can point me to where I can change the code for the presentation format for the "Date Added" field I would be grateful. I really need to see the ISO 8601 standard format of YYYY-MM-DD HH:MM:SS

    Why is it so hard to get this to display in a standard format?
  • I don't think it's possible. See Dan's first comment in this thread.
    Just out of curiosity: why do you need that?
  • This is about a different field - date added vs. date - but I don't think it can currenlty be done. Same question, though: Why do you need it? Zotero can already sort by the date added column, which I thought was the main advantage of the ISO date format?

    (and date added already displays in a standard format).
  • Graham,
    I had a GREAT deal of trouble trying to get them to take these requests seriously. Often, this seems to be a cultural issue and the developers (heros otherwise) have difficulty realising how irksome these nasties can be.

    Try looking at the above when Simon helped me. There are a great deal of parameters than can be changed. See above my post of 21st August 2012.

    I bet if you changed to an Asian date locale that it would work.

    Otherwise. Simon (or Frank) "the Gurus", would know what to do. I am no expert.

This discussion has been closed.