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Create your Live Real Time Clock and Date in "React.js", no 3rd Party Hassle

Ahmed Sarhan
I'm a Software Engineer interested in React.js, Vue.js, GraphQl, AWS and The cloud
・4 min read

Have you worked on a project and you wanted to display the date and time live maybe in your navbar or something?

Seems like a long shot? you will be surprised to know it is not,
If you are creating a system for a company - a bank in my case, a school or a hospital, you will find yourself in need of that little trick

But who needs a clock, there's one in every Pc and mobile phone right? well sometimes websites like to fancy themselves right

So let's just get into it

We will start by cloning the small demo I have already created for you

In your terminal make sure you are in the right directory and run those following lines

First Step: Clone the repo in your directory

git clone https://github.com/AhmedSarhan/live-watch.git

Now you should have a basic CRA with some additional styles and icons as follow:
File Structure
The code should look like this

import './App.css';

import { ReactComponent as ClockIcon } from './icons/clock.svg';
import { ReactComponent as CalenderIcon } from './icons/calendar.svg';

function App() {
    return (
        <div className="App">
            <CalenderIcon />
            <p>date</p>
            <ClockIcon />
            <p>time</p>
        </div>
    );
}

export default App;
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As you can see a basic React app function component with just the two icons and the styles we need imported and applied

In this article we will change those two p tags with real time date and time using only Js and React Hooks

Second Step: move to the project directory

cd live-watch

Third Step: Install npm packages the repo in your directory

npm i

Fourth Step: Run the application

This step should open your localhost on port 3000 by default

Your website should look like this
First Look live time web app

Now let's get to work

First of all make sure to import React and both useState, useEffect hooks at the top of your app component with the following line of code:

import React, {useState, useEffect} from 'react';

Now we are set to do the magic

Create our app state

We are going to make a dateState using the useState hook as follow:
const [dateState, useDateState] = useState(new Date());

Now by default the dateState initial value will be right now date but it won't update unless the user reloads the page so we need to work with that ... But first let's show the date to the user

Displaying the Date and Time

As you can see all the user can see is 📆 Date 🕒 Clock

But won't it be better to show the user the real date and time;

So there are many ways to do this but since this is a small application I would like to do it all in one state hook

<div className="App">
            <CalenderIcon />
            <p>
                {' '}
                {dateState.toLocaleDateString('en-GB', {
                    day: 'numeric',
                    month: 'short',
                    year: 'numeric',
                })}
            </p>
            <ClockIcon />
            <p>
                {dateState.toLocaleString('en-US', {
                    hour: 'numeric',
                    minute: 'numeric',
                    hour12: true,
                })}
            </p>
        </div>
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So this is how your app should look like right now
as you can see using toLocalString JavaScript method which is a standard built in object in JavaScript, we can change the date of this moment to view it in a variety of ways

As you can see in the first paragraph tag I am using toLocalString to view the date of today in the format D MMM YYYY which should show on the date of this article release 5 Jun 2021

In the second paragraph, I'm displaying the time of this moment in the format h:mm a using the 12 hour system

Of course there are variety of ways to display the same date and you can play around with toLocalString method more and find a bit more of them.

Now we have made it two thirds of the way, the user can see the time and date of right now, but I bit it's not exactly right now any more, I would bet it is a minute or two late from your devices watch unless your refresh the page.

This leads us to our final step

Making Our watch Real-Time

In this step we will use the second hook we imported at the beginning of this article; the useEffect hook;

We will make the magic happen with one simple line of code:

    useEffect(() => {
      setInterval(() => setDateState(new Date()), 30000);
    }, []);
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Now in this useEffect, we update the date every 30000 milliseconds which means that the dateState useState hook will be updated every half a minute 30 seconds and our app will rerender the DOM accordingly

Now if you take a look at your app and wait for one minute to pass, you should see the clock updated smoothly just like your native device watch.
It might be a long wait, but it's worth it 😂🔥

Conclusion

Now your final app component code should look something like that

import React, { useState, useEffect } from 'react';
import './App.css';
import { ReactComponent as ClockIcon } from './icons/clock.svg';
import { ReactComponent as CalenderIcon } from './icons/calendar.svg';

function App() {
    const [dateState, setDateState] = useState(new Date());
    useEffect(() => {
           setInterval(() => setDateState(new Date()), 30000);
    }, []);
    return (
        <div className="App">
            <CalenderIcon />
            <p>
              {' '}
              {dateState.toLocaleDateString('en-GB', {
                 day: 'numeric',
                 month: 'short',
                 year: 'numeric',
              })}
            </p>
            <ClockIcon />
            <p>
             {dateState.toLocaleString('en-US', {
                hour: 'numeric',
                minute: 'numeric',
                hour12: true,
            })}
            </p>
        </div>
    );
}

export default App;
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You can also compare your code to the final result of mine through the Final branch on the same GitHub repo

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