Taming Time and Date in JavaScript: A Comparative Exploration

Time and date manipulation is a notoriously tricky aspect of programming. In JavaScript, the built-in Date object comes with its own set of complexities and quirks. Developers often turn to libraries such as Moment.js or date-fns to simplify this task. However, a new feature proposal, Temporal, is poised to revolutionize how we handle dates and times in JavaScript. This article will explore the limitations of the current JavaScript Date object, compare it to popular libraries, and introduce the proposed Temporal API.

The Quirks of JavaScript’s Date Object

JavaScript’s Date object has been a part of the language since its inception. While it provides basic date and time functionality, it has several limitations:

  1. Time Zone Handling: Date struggles with time zones. It only stores time zone offset information rather than the actual time zone, leading to difficulties with daylight saving time and time zone changes.

  2. Mutability: Date objects are mutable, which means that methods like setDate() or setMonth() modify the original date object. This can lead to bugs, especially in large, complex applications.

  3. Parsing and Formatting: Parsing and formatting dates is limited. The string produced by Date’s .toString() method is implementation-dependent, and parsing strings into dates can lead to inconsistencies across different browsers.

  4. Complex Date Manipulation: Doing complex date manipulations, such as adding and subtracting time or finding differences between dates, requires writing additional helper functions or a lot of boilerplate code.

Libraries to the Rescue

To address these issues, many developers have historically turned to third-party libraries.


Moment.js has been the go-to library for date manipulation in JavaScript for years, offering a robust set of features for parsing, validating, manipulating, and formatting dates.

const moment = require('moment');

let now = moment();
console.log(now.add(7, 'days').format('YYYY-MM-DD')); // Add 7 days to current date

However, Moment.js has its downsides. It’s a large library, which can contribute to increased bundle sizes in web applications, and it’s no longer recommended for new projects by its own maintainers due to its outdated architecture.


date-fns is a modern library that provides a comprehensive yet simple and consistent toolset for manipulating JavaScript dates in a functional programming style.

const { addDays, format } = require('date-fns');

let now = new Date();
console.log(format(addDays(now, 7), 'yyyy-MM-dd')); // Add 7 days to current date

date-fns is modular, allowing developers to include only the functions they need, making it a lightweight and efficient choice.

The Dawn of Temporal

Recognizing the persistent struggles with date and time in JavaScript, the TC39 proposal for Temporal aims to provide a modern solution built into the language. Temporal is a global Object that acts as a top-level namespace, similar to Math, providing a rich set of date and time manipulation features.

Advantages of Temporal

Temporal addresses many of the shortcomings of the Date object:

  1. Immutability: Temporal objects are immutable. Operations like adding or subtracting time return a new Temporal object.

  2. Time Zone and Calendar Support: Temporal has first-class support for time zones and calendars, making it easier to handle use cases around the world.

  3. Parsing and Formatting: Temporal aims to standardize parsing and formatting and provide reliable cross-browser support.

  4. Arithmetic and Comparison: Temporal includes straightforward methods for date arithmetic and comparison, significantly reducing the complexity of these operations.

Using Temporal

As of now, Temporal is a Stage 3 proposal, which means it’s not yet part of the JavaScript standard. However, it’s quite far along in the process and can be used in some environments or with polyfills. Here’s an example of how Temporal simplifies date manipulation:

const { Temporal } = require('@js-temporal/polyfill');

let now = Temporal.Now.plainDateTimeISO();
console.log(now.add({ days: 7 }).toString()); // Add 7 days to current date

Comparing Solutions

When compared to libraries like Moment.js or date-fns, Temporal offers a more integrated and standardized approach to date and time manipulation in JavaScript. While libraries are still necessary for many projects, especially those that need to support a wide range of browsers, Temporal’s future inclusion in the ECMAScript standard means that developers will eventually have a powerful and native option for working with dates and times.


Dealing with time and date in JavaScript is a complex task that has led to the rise of multiple third-party libraries. While these libraries have filled the gap for many years, the proposed Temporal API promises a built-in, robust, and more intuitive way to handle dates and times in JavaScript.

As web development evolves, the need for a standardized and efficient approach to date and time manipulation becomes increasingly apparent. Temporal’s proposition to include time zone and calendar support, immutability by default, and more reliable parsing and formatting methods positions it as a forward-thinking solution.

For developers, the advent of Temporal will mean less reliance on external libraries, a reduction in common date-related bugs, and a more streamlined development experience. With the proposal currently at Stage 3, it’s an exciting time to start experimenting with Temporal, either in environments where it’s already available or using polyfills.

In conclusion, while we wait for Temporal to become a part of the JavaScript standard, it’s worth familiarizing ourselves with its API and the benefits it offers. The future of date and time manipulation in JavaScript is looking bright, and Temporal is poised to be at the forefront of this new chapter. As a web development agency committed to innovation and best practices, AZdev is excited about integrating Temporal into our workflows, ensuring our projects remain on the cutting edge and our developers stay ahead of the curve.