Show the timezone for datetimes in the Django admin

Django supports storing dates in a database as UTC but displaying them in some other timezone - which is good. But... by default datetimes are shown in the Django admin interface without any clue as to what timezone they are being displayed in.

This is really confusing. A time may be stored as UTC in the database but in the admin interface it's displaying in PST, without any visual indication as to what is going on.

I found a pattern today for improving this. You can use django.conf.locale.en.formats to specify a custom date format for a specific locale (thanks, Stack Overflow). Then you can use the e date format option to include a string indicating the timezone that is being displayed, as documented here.

In do this:

from django.conf.locale.en import formats as en_formats

en_formats.DATETIME_FORMAT = "jS M Y fA e"

I added a middleware to force the displayed timezone for every page on my site to America/Los_Angeles like so:

from django.utils import timezone
import pytz

class TimezoneMiddleware:
    def __init__(self, get_response):
        self.get_response = get_response

    def __call__(self, request):
        return self.get_response(request)

I put this in a file called core/ and added it to my MIDDLEWARE setting in like so:

    # ...

Now datetimes show up in my admin interface looking like this, with a PST suffix:


Showing UTC too

I decided I'd like to see the UTC time too, just to help me truly understand what had been stored. I did that by adding the following method to my Django model class:

# Earlier
from django.utils import dateformat
import pytz

# Added to the model class:

    def created_at_utc(self):
        tz = pytz.UTC
        created_at_utc = timezone.localtime(self.created_at, tz)
        return (
            dateformat.format(created_at_utc, "jS M Y fA e")

Then I added created_at_utc to both the list_filter and the readonly_fields tuples in the admin configuration for that model. This caused it to show up in the list view and also as a read-only field at the bottom of the edit view.


Note that I'm calling dateformat.format() in the method and returning a string - this ensures Django's automatic formatting doesn't get the chance to convert it back to PST again.

Created 2021-03-02T21:17:45-08:00 · Edit