How to Manipulate DateTime in .NET to Help you Code Better by@stphnwlsh

How to Manipulate DateTime in .NET to Help you Code Better

Testing code that uses .NET's `DateTime.Now` sucks!!!! This is how to mock them, to properly validate DateTime when writing unit tests. The SimpleDateTimeProvider NuGet package is available on to help you with this in the future.
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Stephen Walsh

Hello! I’m a Husband, Father, Moustache Grower, Liverpool Fan, Software Engineer, Constant Learner and Team Leader.

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Okay I'll dial down the hyperbole, over my too many years (read I'm feeling old) as an engineer I have run into a problem where my code has contained a DateTime.Now or DateTime.UtcNow. When I write a test, I can't validate the actual time because milliseconds have passed from when the code ran, and then my test goes to validate. It's not a huge problem but annoying as I like to validate everything to make sure I'm not accidentally manipulating those values somewhere else.

There is an easy solution to this, and before I detail out the solution that I used, I need to call out the inspirations for this. The TL;DR is that you can consume my SimpleDateTimeProvider NuGet Package to help you solve this. The implementation of the code for this lies below.

The Solution

I have created a DateTimeProvider consisting of an interface, and two implementations of the interface. One implementation returns the System values and the other returns Mocked values that are preset by the user.

The Inteface

public interface IDateTimeProvider
    DateTime Now { get; }
    DateTime Today { get; }
    DateTime UtcNow { get; }

The System Implementation

public class SystemDateTimeProvider : IDateTimeProvider
    public DateTime Now => DateTime.Now;
    public DateTime Today => DateTime.Today;
    public DateTime UtcNow => DateTime.UtcNow;

The Mock Implementation

public class MockDateTimeProvider : IDateTimeProvider
    public DateTime Now
        get =>;
        set => = value;
    public DateTime Today
        get =>;
        set => = value;
    public DateTime UtcNow
        get => this.utcNow.ThrowIfNotSet(DateTimeType.UtcNow);
        set => this.utcNow = value;

Bending Date and Time

This is a simple solution and it's easy to get underway using the providers, simply inject the system provider under the IDateTimeProvider interface in your functional code. If you are using another library, you'll know the syntax but follow the same formula.

_ = services.AddSingleton<IDateTimeProvider, SystemDateTimeProvider>();

Next step is to create your class and use that registered SystemDateTimeProvider that we just created via the IDateTimeProvider interface. Then use the provider to set the DateTime values in your class.

public class Service
    private readonly IDateTimeProvider dateTimeProvider;

    public Service(IDateTimeProvider dateTimeProvider)
        this.dateTimeProvider = dateTimeProvider;

    public string DateTimeNow()
        return $"DateTime.Now is {this.dateTimeProvider.Now}";

The whole purpose of this was to allow for testable code. So now that you have your class above, you can inject the MockDateTimeProvider in its place to control the DateTime values in your tests. The following example shows how to write a test in XUnit, using Shouldly for assertion.

public void Today_ShouldReturn_MockedToday()
    // Arrange
    var provider = new MockDateTimeProvider();
    var service = new Service(provider);
    var today = DateTime.Today;

    provider.Today = today;

    // Act
    var result = service.DateTimeToday();

    // Assert
    _ = result.ShouldBeOfType<string>();
    result.ShouldBe($"DateTime.Today is {today}");

Where Can I Find This?

All of this open-sourced. You can find my work on GitHub at SimpleDateTimeProvider Repository and the published package at SimpleDateTimeProvider NuGet.

First published here

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by Stephen Walsh @stphnwlsh.Hello! I’m a Husband, Father, Moustache Grower, Liverpool Fan, Software Engineer, Constant Learner and Team Leader.
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