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This function helps to affix the current datetime to a filename. This is useful when writing agent and/or informant objects to disk as part of a continuous process. The datetime string can be based on the current UTC time or the local system time. The datetime can be affixed either to the end of the filename (before the file extension) or at the beginning with a customizable delimiter. Optionally, the time zone information can be included. If the datetime is based on the local system time, the user system time zone is shown with the format <time>(+/-)hhmm. If using UTC time, then the <time>Z format is adopted.

The x_write_disk(), yaml_write() functions allow for the writing of pointblank objects to disk. The modification of the filename string takes effect immediately but not at the time of writing a file to disk. In most cases, especially when using affix_datetime() with the aforementioned file-writing functions, the file timestamps should approximate the time components affixed to the filenames.


  position = c("end", "start"),
  format = "%Y-%m-%d_%H-%M-%S",
  delimiter = "_",
  utc_time = TRUE,
  add_tz = FALSE



The filename to modify.


Where to place the formatted datetime. This could either be at the "end" of the filename (the default) or at the "start".


A base::strptime() format string for formatting the datetime. By default, this is "%Y-%m-%dT%H:%M:%S" which expresses the date according to the ISO 8601 standard. For example, if the current datetime is 2020-12-04 13:11:23, the formatted string would become "2020-12-04T13:11:23". Refer to the documentation on base::strptime() for conversion specifications if planning to use a different format string.


The delimiter characters to use for separating the datetime string from the original file name.


An option for whether to use the current UTC time to establish the datetime (the default, with TRUE), or, use the system's local time (FALSE).


Should the time zone (as an offset from UTC) be provided? If TRUE then the UTC offset will be either provided as <time>Z (if utc_time = TRUE) or <time>(+/-)hhmm. By default, this is FALSE.


A character vector.


The basics of creating a filename with the current date and time

Taking the generic "pb_file" name for a file, we add the current datetime to it as a suffix.

affix_datetime(filename = "pb_file")

## [1] "pb_file_2022-04-01_00-32-53"

File extensions won't get in the way:

affix_datetime(filename = "pb_file.rds")

## [1] "pb_file_2022-04-01_00-32-53.rds"

The datetime can be used as a prefix.

  filename = "pb_file",
  position = "start"

## [1] "2022-04-01_00-32-53_pb_file"

The datetime pattern can be changed and so can the delimiter.

  filename = "pb_file.yml",
  format = "%Y%m%d_%H%M%S",
  delimiter = "-"

## [1] "pb_file-20220401_003253.yml"

Time zone information can be included. By default, all datetimes are given in the UTC time zone.

  filename = "pb_file.yml",
  add_tz = TRUE

## [1] "pb_file_2022-04-01_00-32-53Z.yml"

We can use the system's local time zone with utc_time = FALSE.

  filename = "pb_file.yml",
  utc_time = FALSE,
  add_tz = TRUE

## [1] "pb_file_2022-03-31_20-32-53-0400.yml"

Using a datetime-based filename in a pointblank workflow

We can use a file-naming convention involving datetimes when writing output files immediately after interrogating. This is just one example (any workflow involving a filename argument is applicable). It's really advantageous to use datetime-based filenames when interrogating directly from YAML in a scheduled process, especially if multiple validation runs per day are being executed on the same target table.

  filename = system.file(
    "yaml", "agent-small_table.yml",
    package = "pointblank"
) %>% 
    filename = affix_datetime(
      filename = "small_table_agent.rds",
      delimiter = "-"
    keep_tbl = TRUE,
    keep_extracts = TRUE

In the above, we used the written-to-disk agent (The "agent-small_table.yml" YAML file) for an interrogation via yaml_agent_interrogate(). Then, the results were written to disk as an RDS file. In the filename argument of x_write_disk(), the affix_datetime() function was used to ensure that frequent runs would produce files whose names indicate the day and time of execution.

Function ID


See also

The affix_date() function provides the same features except it produces a date string by default.

Other Utility and Helper Functions: affix_date(), col_schema(), from_github(), has_columns(), stop_if_not()