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Selecting dates and times with DatePicker

Paul Hudson    @twostraws   

SwiftUI gives us a dedicated picker type called DatePicker that can be bound to a date property. Yes, Swift has a dedicated type for working with dates, and it’s called – unsurprisingly – Date.

So, to use it you’d start with an @State property such as this:

@State private var wakeUp = Date.now

You could then bind that to a date picker like this:

DatePicker("Please enter a date", selection: $wakeUp)

Try running that in the simulator so you can see how it looks. You should see a tappable options to control days and times, plus the “Please enter a date” label on the left.

Now, you might think that label looks ugly, and try replacing it with this:

DatePicker("", selection: $wakeUp)

But if you do that you now have two problems: the date picker still makes space for a label even though it’s empty, and now users with the screen reader active (more familiar to us as VoiceOver) won’t have any idea what the date picker is for.

A better alternative is to use the labelsHidden() modifier, like this:

DatePicker("Please enter a date", selection: $wakeUp)
    .labelsHidden()

That still includes the original label so screen readers can use it for VoiceOver, but now they aren’t visible onscreen any more – the date picker won’t be pushed to one side by some empty text.

Date pickers provide us with a couple of configuration options that control how they work. First, we can use displayedComponents to decide what kind of options users should see:

  • If you don’t provide this parameter, users see a day, hour, and minute.
  • If you use .date users see month, day, and year.
  • If you use .hourAndMinute users see just the hour and minute components.

So, we can select a precise time like this:

DatePicker("Please enter a time", selection: $wakeUp, displayedComponents: .hourAndMinute)

Finally, there’s an in parameter that works just the same as with Stepper: we can provide it with a date range, and the date picker will ensure the user can’t select beyond it.

Now, we’ve been using ranges for a while now, and you’re used to seeing things like 1...5 or 0..<10, but we can also use Swift dates with ranges. For example:

func exampleDates() {
    // create a second Date instance set to one day in seconds from now
    let tomorrow = Date.now.addingTimeInterval(86400)

    // create a range from those two
    let range = Date.now...tomorrow
}

That’s really useful with DatePicker, but there’s something even better: Swift lets us form one-sided ranges – ranges where we specify either the start or end but not both, leaving Swift to infer the other side.

For example, we could create a date picker like this:

DatePicker("Please enter a date", selection: $wakeUp, in: Date.now...)

That will allow all dates in the future, but none in the past – read it as “from the current date up to anything.”

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