## The Last Day of the Month, part 3

Grizzled FileMaker veterans are fond of saying things like, “You ought to know at least three different ways to accomplish any given task.” With that in mind, I hereby submit a third method for calculating the last day of a given month.

``` Let ( [ theDate = Get ( CurrentDate ) ; monthNum = Month ( theDate ) ; yearNum = Year ( theDate ) ; febLastDay = 28 + Case ( Mod ( yearNum ; 400 ) = 0 ; 1 ; Mod ( yearNum ; 100 ) = 0 ; 0 ; Mod ( yearNum ; 4 ) = 0 ; 1 ; 0 ) ; dayNum = Choose ( monthNum ; "" ; 31 ; febLastDay ; 31 ; 30 ; 31 ; 30 ; 31 ; 31 ; 30 ; 31 ; 30 ; 31 ) ] ;```

``` Date ( monthNum ; dayNum ; yearNum ) ```

`) // end let`

If you read yesterday’s post, you may have noted a resemblance between this calculation and its predecessor, at least as far as the “Let” portion goes. The main difference is the addition of a dayNum variable populated via the Choose() function.

In case you’re not comfortable with Choose(), its format is

``` Choose ( test ; result if test = 0 { ; result if test = 1 ; result if test = 2... } )```

…where “test” is any non-negative whole number, and the results in braces are optional. At first this function may seem confusing but it turns out to be a very compact replacement for the Case() function, under a strictly defined set of circumstances.

Say, for example, in a table called “test”, you have a field called “score”, which can contain any integer between 0 and 9, and you want convert that value to its corresponding name (“zero,” “one,” “two”, etc.). You could certainly accomplish this with Case() and the statement might look like this:

``` Case ( test::score = 0 ; "zero" ; test::score = 1 ; "one" ; test::score = 2 ; "two" ; test::score = 3 ; "three" ; test::score = 4 ; "four" ; test::score = 5 ; "five" ; test::score = 6 ; "six" ; test::score = 7 ; "seven" ; test::score = 8 ; "eight" ; test::score = 9 ; "nine" )```

The exact same result can be obtained far more economically thus:

``` Choose ( test::score ; "zero" ; "one" ; "two" ; "three" ; "four" ; "five" ; "six" ; "seven" ; "eight" ; "nine" )```

Essentially, Choose uses test::score as a pointer to the correct “result”, via what’s known as a zero-based index, so a test::score value of 0 corresponds to the first result, a test::score of 1 corresponds to the second result, etc.

In the case of our Last Day of the Month problem, there is no month number of 0, only 1 through 12, so our first result is `""` to accommodate the non-existent zero result.

## The Last Day of the Month, part 1

This seems an appropriate day to post this. At the risk of stating the obvious, the first day of a given month is a very easy date to calculate, because the day number will always be 1. So, assuming we want to dynamically calculate the date for the first day of the current month (whatever that month may happen to be), we can simply plug the values in as follows:

```      Let ( x = Get(CurrentDate) ;          Date ( Month ( x ) ; 1 ; Year ( x ) )       ) // end let```

Wouldn’t it be nice if it were that easy to calculate the date for the last day of the month? The problem of course, is that the last day of the month can be 28, 29, 30 or 31.

You might be tempted to use a Case() statement, and test each month individually, but then you’d have to engage in some calculation gymnastics to accommodate Feb 29th in leap years. Here’s an approach I like because it’s both succinct and bullet proof.

```      Let ( x = Get(CurrentDate) ;          Date ( Month ( x ) + 1 ; 1 ; Year ( x ) ) - 1       ) // end let```

In a nutshell, this tells FileMaker to calculate the date corresponding to the 1st of next month, and then to subtract 1 day from that. It even works in December, because FileMaker is smart enough to convert Date(13;1;2010) to January 1, 2011, and of course if we subtract one day from that we get December 31, 2010.

And here’s a tip I picked up from Geoff Gerhard at Creative Solutions: the calc can be further simplified, by removing the “-1” from the end, and changing the day number to zero, which FileMaker is smart enough to interpret as “the day before the first of the month”.

```      Let ( x = Get(CurrentDate) ;          Date ( Month ( x ) + 1 ; 0 ; Year ( x ) )       ) // end let```

Incidentally, I’ve used Get(CurrentDate) in these examples, and that’s fine for a single-user system. For a multi-user system, it’s a good idea to instead use…

`      GetAsDate ( Get ( CurrentHostTimestamp ) )`

…which ensures your users will all be on the same page, or date at any rate, regardless of what date their computer thinks it is. Time can be calculated in a similar manner:

`      GetAsTime ( Get ( CurrentHostTimestamp ) )`

And the nice thing about this is that if you open the file single-user, the above calcs still work since your computer is considered to be the host. That’s what I call all gain and no pain.