Universal Sortable ("u") and Universal Full ("U") Format Specifier in LightSwitch

This article explains the differences and the use of the Universal Sortable ("u") and Universal Full ("U") Format Specifiers in LightSwitch Visual Studio 2012.

Universal Sortable ("u") Format Specifier

The "u" Standard Format Specifier is used to represent a custom date and time format string specified by "DateTimeFormatInfo.UniversalSortableDateTimePattern". The property is readonly. It is always the same regardless of the type of culture used or the format specifier provided.

Note:
 The custom format string is "yyyy'-'MM'-'dd HH':'mm':'ss'Z'".

Whenever such standard format specifier is used, the formatting operation always uses the invariant culture.

Universal Full("U") Format Specifier

The "U" Standard Format Specifier represents a custom date and time format string that is specified by "DateTimeFormatInfo.UniversalSortableDateTimePattern". The pattern is the same as the "F" pattern (Full Date Time Pattern). Here the DateTime value is automatically converted to UTC before it is formatted.

Use the following procedure to create a sample showing how to use
the Universal Sortable ("u") and Universal Full ("U") Format Specifiers on a Screen.

Step 1

Open the LightSwitch Application in Visual Studio 2012 and go to the Solution Explorer.

Solution Explorer

Right-click on "Data Sources" and choose "Add Table".

Add Table

The table appears in the Table Designer window. Insert the records in the following table.

Employee Table

Step 2

Now once again go to the Solution Explorer, right-click on "Screens" and choose "Add Screen".

Add Screen

The Add New Screen dialog box appears. Select "Editable Grid Screen" from the Screen Template. Inside the screen information, choose "Employee" under screen data and provide some name to the Screen and click the "OK" button.

Add New Screen

The Screen Designer appears as shown below.

Screen Designer

Press F5 to run the application. Provide the information; we will get the following output. 

Output of Editable Grid Screen

Step 3

Now stop debugging the application. From the Table Designer select the "DOJ" record as shown in the figure below.

Select DOJ from Employee

Then go to the Format Pattern of the Property window in the Table Designer and enter "u" in the format pattern for the Universal Sortable  Date/Time Format Specifier as shown below.


u Format pattern

Once again press F5 to run the application. This time we will get the following output.

Universal sortable date time Format Pattern Output

Step 4

Once again stop debugging the application and
select the "Salary" record from the table.

Select DOJ from Employee

Now go to the Format Pattern of the Property window in the Table Designer and this time enter "U" in the format pattern for the Universal Full Date/Time Format Specifier as shown below.

U format Pattern Property Window

Once again press F5 to run the application. This time we will get the following output. 

Universal full date time Format pattern output