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DataFlex Decompiler
Page 2

Timing an Event in DataFlex

by Curtis Krauskopf

How Long Did that Take?Timing using SYSDATE4

Both SYSDATE and SYSDATE4 work well if you only want a rough estimate of how long an event takes. The most common technique for timing an event is:

  1. Use SYSDATE4 to record the time from the system clock
  2. Let the event happen
  3. Use SYSDATE4 to record the system clock's time after the event

This example program shows how to use SYSDATE4 to find out how long an event takes:

// howbored.src
// by Curtis Krauskopf at
// This is an example of timing how long an event takes.

date before after
integer before_hour before_minute before_second
integer after_hour after_minute after_second

sysdate4 before before_hour before_minute before_second

showln "The clock has started ticking."
showln "When you get bored, press any key."
showln "..."
string akey 1
inkey akey

sysdate4 after after_hour after_minute after_second

number before_time   // Accumulated number of seconds
number after_time

move (integer(before) * 3600 * 24) to before_time
move (before_time + (before_hour * 3600)) to before_time
move (before_time + (before_minute * 60)) to before_time
move (before_time + (before_second)) to before_time

move (integer(after) * 3600 * 24) to after_time
move (after_time + (after_hour * 3600)) to after_time
move (after_time + (after_minute * 60)) to after_time
move (after_time + (after_second)) to after_time

show "It took you " (after_time - before_time) 
showln " seconds to become bored." showln showln "Press any key to continue." inkey akey

The output of the program looks like this:

The clock has started ticking.
When you get bored, press any key.
It took you 5 seconds to become bored.

Press any key to continue.

This algorithm works even when the event starts on one day and ends on the next day (across midnight).

A DataFlex date is an integer that represents the number of days since the hypothetical date: January 0, Year 0. It's almost like a Julian date, but not quite. A Julian date is based on January 1, 4713 BC whereas a DataFlex date is based on January 1, Year 0. The United States Navy has an interesting site that discusses Julian dates and its history in much greater detail.

The line

move (integer(before) * 3600 * 24) to before_time

converts the date called before into seconds. The rest of that block of code:

move (before_time + (before_hour * 3600)) to before_time
move (before_time + (before_minute * 60)) to before_time
move (before_time + (before_second)) to before_time

adds the number of seconds in the hours, minutes and seconds to the before_time accumulator.

Likewise, the next block of code calculates the number of seconds for all of the after_* variables.

Next, the (after_time - before_time) expression calculates the difference in seconds.

When playing with this program, notice a couple things:

When the time delay is very short, you might see:

It took you 0 seconds to become bored.


It took you 1 seconds to become bored.

The first result is wrong because it takes at least some time to 'become bored', even if it's only a fraction of a second.

The second result is wrong if you became bored in less than one second but the computer reports that it took you an entire second to become bored.

A similar problem exists for longer delays too. Using a stopwatch, compare how long the program reports that you took versus how long you actually take. It seems like the time reported by the computer is off by as much as one second. And this really is the case.

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