Friday, October 08 2010
PostgreSQL, 9.1, tricks

Date puzzle for starters

The PostgreSQL IRC channel is a good place to be, for all the very good help you can get there, because people are always wanting to remain helpful, because of the off-topics discussions sometime, or to get to talk with community core members. And to start up your day too.

This morning's question started simple : “how can I check if today is the "first sunday fo the month". or "the second tuesday of the month" etc?”

And the first version of the answer, quite simple it is too:

dim=#   with begin(d) as (select date_trunc('month', 'today'::date)::date) 
dim-# select d + 7 - extract(dow from d)::int as sunday from begin;
(1 row)

So you just have to compare the result of the function with 'today'::date and there you go. The problem is that the question could be read in the other way round, like, what is today in first or second day name of this month format? Once more, RhodiumToad to the rescue:

select to_char(current_date,
               '"' || ((ARRAY['First','Second','Third','Fourth','Fifth'])
                             [(extract(day from current_date)::integer - 1)/7 + 1]
                   || '" Day');
 Second Friday   
(1 row)

That's a straight answer to the question, read that way!

But the part that I found nice to play with was my first reading of the question, as I don't get to lose my ideas that easily, you see… so what about writing a function to return the date of any nth occurrence of a given day of week in a given month, defaulting to this very month?

create or replace function get_nth_dow_of_month
  nth int,
  dow int,
  begin date default current_date
 returns date
 language sql
with month(d) as (
  select generate_series(date_trunc('month', $3), 
                         date_trunc('month', $3) + interval '1 month - 1 day', 
                         interval '1 day')::date
     repeat as (
  select d, extract(dow from d) as dow, (d - date_trunc('month', $3)::date) / 7 as repeat
    from month
select d
  from repeat
 where dow = $2 and repeat = $1;

dim=# select get_nth_dow_of_month(0, 0);
(1 row)

dim=# select get_nth_dow_of_month(1, 4, '2010-09-12');
(1 row)

So you see we just got the first Sunday of this month (0, 0) and the second Thursday (1, 4) of the previous one. Any date within a month is a good way to tell which month you want to work in, as the function's written, abusing date_trunc like it does.

Now the way the function is written is unfinished. You want to fix it in one of two ways. Either stop using generate_series to only output one row at a time, or fix the API so that you can ask for more than a nth dow at a time. Of course, that was a starter for me, not a problem I need to solve directly, and that was a good excuse for a blog entry, so I won't fix it. That's left as an exercise to our interested readers!