Handling java.util.Date in Spring MVC

A lot of times I needed to display and edit data that has date information in it. For example, user registration form might have a birthday field. I do want that field to be java.util.Date and be save in the database as a date, but when rendering to JSP I used to have to convert it to/from a text field. Not anymore! I started using custom PropertyEditorSupport for Date processing. To use this feature, you need to follow 3 steps:

First, you need to create a custom PropertyEditorSupport. Here is the one I used for java.util.Date:

package foo;
import java.beans.PropertyEditorSupport;
import java.util.Date;
import java.text.ParseException;
import org.apache.commons.lang.time.DateUtils;
import org.apache.log4j.Logger;

/**
 * @author Henry Naftulin
 * @since Aug 4, 2008
 */
public class DatePropertyEditor extends PropertyEditorSupport {
  Logger log = Logger.getLogger(DatePropertyEditor.class);
  String[] formats = {"yyyy-MM-dd", "MM/dd/yyyy", "MM/dd/yy"};

Date defaultDate = new Date(0L);

public void setAsText(String textValue) {
  if (textValue == null) {
  setValue(defaultDate);
  return;
  }
  Date retDate = defaultDate;
  try {
  retDate = DateUtils.parseDate(textValue, formats);
  } catch (ParseException e) {
  log.error("Cannot parse " + textValue + " as date.", e);
  }
  setValue(retDate);
  }

}

Second, I need to register the custom property editor with my Spring MVC controller, which I do by overwriting the following method:

protected void initBinder(HttpServletRequest req, ServletRequestDataBinder binder) throws Exception {
  binder.registerCustomEditor(Date.class, new DatePropertyEditor());
  }

And that is it: you can just render you date field in the JSP and dates typed into the text fields would be converted from the String representation to java.util.Date!

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