Pretty much everywhere you can enter a date in Cameo (time is only rarely relevant as well), you can use more or less anything that makes sense, including some date arithmetic.

Having said that, it’s not trying to process natural language, so there will always be some idioms that it won’t recognise. And there is always an ambiguity over US/European style dates as in 3/4/2019 – is that 4 March or 3 April? 

If you prefer to click rather than type, you can also use the calendar icon at the right of date fields, which pops up a date picker calendar.

Displaying dates

To start with, when Cameo displays dates, it is in the format “3 Apr 2019”. It’s short but not ambiguous.

Internally, though, dates (and times) are stored in ISO 8601 format. For dates, this amounts to 2019-04-03, for example (year dash month dash day in exactly 10 characters). On the odd occasions that time is included, it’s a bit more complex, and requires a time zone. You never see this, so I don’t need to spell it out here.

Obviously, then, there’s a lot of conversion of date formats going on, and every time you enter a date it has to be converted to ISO. In fact, this provides a great opportunity to liberate Cameo from the constraints of most systems that require you to enter a particular format.

For a basic date, any of these will work as well as all the obvious variations on the same theme like case insensitivity, two-digit year, leading zeros etc:

  • 3 Apr 2019
  • 3 April 2019
  • 3 april 2019
  • Apr 3 2019
  • April 3, 2019
  • 3 April [this year]
  • 3rd April [NB, not 3rd of April]
  • 3 apr
  • 3/4/2019 [note 1]
  • 3/4/19
  • 3.4.19
  • 03.04.2019
  • 2019-04-03 [note 2]
  • 2019/04/03
  • 3 iv 2019 [seriously?]

[1] European interpretation normally, however Cameo can be installed so this is consistently US style with the month first. However, while it is common to do this without thinking, it’s best avoided just because it is ambiguous.

[2] Though you can also enter 2019-4-3, this example illustrates entering an ISO time.

Relative dates

You can also give numerous variations relative to the current date. For example:

  • today
  • now
  • Yesterday
  • tomorrow
  • next Thursday
  • last Mon
  • Friday [this depends on where in the week you are as to whether it’s next or last Friday]
  • two weeks ago
  • 3 days ago
  • – 2 weeks [minus sign]
  • 2 weeks [i.e. from today]
  • +2 weeks [ditto]
  • last week
  • last March [the first]

The “ago” forms and uses of textual digits (“two” for 2 etc) are new, as of 28 Dec 2018.

Date calculations

The relative dates above are offset from today.  But you can also combine absolute and relative dates to get some date calculations. Like this:

  • 3 Apr + 2 weeks [i.e. 17 Apr this year]
  • 3 Apr 2019 +2 months 1 day [i.e. 4 Jun 2019]
  • 3 april 2019 + 5 years [i.e. 3 Apr 2024]

It’s a bit pointless typing out something like the latter, but if it’s already in the box, extending a date by a year or a a couple of months can be done by just appending “+1 year” or “+2 months”.

These forms are perhaps less useful when setting dates in records, but can be useful when doing date searches.

Time of day

Cameo doesn’t often record times as well as dates, but there are a few places where it is relevant or important. For example:

  • evidence of list subscription can optionally include a time
  • though it isn’t always displayed, the time of sending an email
  • the moment when a record was updated (you don’t usually see this explicitly, just any consequences)

Cameo displays dates with times in 24 hour clock like this:

  • 3 Apr 2019 19:33:54

If you put a date and/or time in a box that is expecting a time, it as forgiving as dates. You can use 24 or 12 hour clock. For example:

  • tomorrow at 3pm
  • next Tuesday 16:30

If you put a time in a date-only box (e.g. if you copied and pasted), it will not store the time. However, there are some complications if you are in different time zones from colleagues, so the example above when your computer is set to California time (PDT), say, is actually 04:33:54 on 4 April in the UK (BST), so you’ll see 4 Apr when the time is calculated by a Cameo server set to UK time. Actually, this is true whether or not you type the time, but it only matters if you are on a different time zone from Cameo. It may look odd, but it is the correct conversion.

On the other hand any date stored as a date only in Cameo, once stored will appear the same to everyone, no matter what their timezone – it’s telling you the date relative to Cameo, not you. But where time matters, it’s displayed relative to you, so a timestamp for evidence is displayed in your local time and may look different to someone else in a different time zone (strictly speaking, we should display it with the time zone, which makes it clear that it is the same absolute time, just displayed according to the local clock.

Time zones are a huge can of worms when you are working internationally, and things that are completely correct may well appear confusing. But as Cameo is generally used in a local environment, it’s not often going to arise. But on the whole we avoid the problem by only dealing with dates where possible, and unless you’re on the other side of the world from your Cameo server, you would probably not even realise these are relative to Cameo’s time zone, not yours.