Date, time, and NTP

This tutorial shows how to use the date and time functionality of Toit. It also shows how to use the Network Time Protocol (NTP) to get the current time from a time server.


We assume that you have set up your development environment as described in the IDE tutorial.

We also assume that you have flashed your device with Jaguar and that you are familiar with running Toit programs on it. If not, have a look at the Hello world tutorial.

Note that you can do parts of this tutorial without a device. In that case, you need to use the -d host option whenever you invoke jag run. The program will then run on your computer instead of on a device.

Date and time

The Toit language has a built-in Time class that represents a point in time. It is used to represent both dates and times.

On its own, it does not have any notion of time zones or calendars. For that, you need a TimeInfo instance that presents the time in the desired view. The Time class has two getters that return a TimeInfo instance:

Write the following time.toit program and run it with Jaguar.

  now :=
  utc := now.utc
  print "UTC: $utc"
  local := now.local
  print "Local: $local"
  print "local time: $(%02d local.h):$(%02d local.m):$(%02d local.s)"

This example shows how to get the current time and print it in UTC and in the local time zone. Note that the TimeInfo class stringifies to the ISO 8601 format by default. When this is the desired string format we recommend to use the to-iso8601-string method instead, as it is more explicit and guaranteed not to change in the future.

The program also shows how to access the fields of a TimeInfo instance. It prints them individual components of the time with two digits, padding with zeros if necessary. See string interpolation for details.

The most important fields of the TimeInfo class are:

  • year: year
  • month: month of the year (1-12)
  • day: day of the month (1-31)
  • weekday: day of the week (1-7, 1 is Monday)
  • h: hour (0-23)
  • m: minute (0-59)
  • s: second (0-59, could be 60 for leap seconds)


The core libraries provide a way to change the Time zone. The set-timezone function takes a time zone description in Posix TZ format and applies it.

On the desktop calling this function only changes the time zone of the currently running program. On the device the new time zone is stored in the system and affects all programs.


  set-timezone "CET-1CEST,M3.5.0,M10.5.0/3"  // Central European Timezone (as of 2022).

The time zone string is in the Posix TZ format. Fortunately, there are many online resources that list the time zones in this format, or users on Posix systems can just look at the last line of the output of the corresponding zoneinfo file:

tail -n1 /usr/share/zoneinfo/Europe/Copenhagen

Here are a few common TZ strings:

  • CET-1CEST,M3.5.0,M10.5.0/3: Central European Time
  • GMT0BST,M3.5.0/1,M10.5.0: British Time
  • EST5EDT,M3.2.0,M11.1.0: Eastern Time
  • PST8PDT,M3.2.0,M11.1.0: Pacific Time
  • <+03>-3: Turkish Time (no daylight saving time)
  • CST-8: China Standard Time (no daylight saving time)
  • <+04>-4: Dubai Time (no daylight saving time)
  • JST-9: Japan Standard Time (no daylight saving time)
  • AEST-10AEDT,M10.1.0,M4.1.0/3: Australian Eastern Time


The Network Time Protocol (NTP) is a protocol for synchronizing the clocks of computers over a network.


The NTP functionality is not part of the core libraries and must be imported as a package. See the packages tutorial for details.

We are using the ntp package. To install it, run the following command:

jag pkg install

You can probably just write jag pkg install ntp, but the full ID together with the version is more explicit, and will make sure you get the right package.


The following code shows how to use the NTP package to get the current time from an NTP server, and how to update the system clock with the time from the server:

import ntp
import esp32 show adjust-real-time-clock

  now :=
  if now < (Time.parse "2022-01-10T00:00:00Z"):
    result ::= ntp.synchronize
    if result:
      adjust-real-time-clock result.adjustment
      print "Set time to $ by adjusting $result.adjustment"
      print "ntp: synchronization request failed"
    print "We already know the time is $now"

This program first checks whether the current time is believable or not. If it isn't it fetches the current time from an NTP server and updates the system clock with the new time.

Note that a production system should keep track of when the time was last updated, and periodically synchronize to avoid clock drift.

Often, this (or a similar program, that also incorporates the time zone setting) is run during boot. See the container tutorial for details on how to do that.