Date standardization

Getting custom date fields set correctly

Note: This guidance is only required if you have modified the structure of your database to add custom datetime or date fields.

Handling custom datetime/date fields in your database

Zen Cart uses a specific string (rather than NULL) for datetime and date fields to indicate that a value has not been set.

In older versions of Zen Cart, the string was 0000-00-00. However, since then, MySQL has updated their definition of allowable date formats to exclude this string.

Since Zen Cart 1.5.6, the upgrade process has included steps necessary to fix these older style dates as follows

  • update all rows in the table to change any date columns with the value 0000-00-00 to 0001-01-01, and set the field’s default value to 0001-01-01.
  • update all rows in the table to change any datetime columns with the value 0000-00-00 00:00:00 to 0001-01-01 00:00:00, and set the field’s default value to 0001-01-01 00:00:00.

(In the case of datetime values, the appended value for time remains 00:00:00; it has not changed.)

However, the upgrade process can only do this for built-in fields. If you have customized your database to include additional fields (perhaps via a plugin, or perhaps with your own custom code), you will need to make the same changes to your own database. Failure to do so can mean an incomplete upgrade that will have to be fixed by hand by re-applying the failed SQL statements.

The debug log which is produced when a bad date is present will look like this:

--> PHP Fatal error: 1292:Incorrect datetime value: '0000-00-00 00:00:00' for column 'customers_dob' at row 3048 :: ALTER TABLE zen_customers ADD tax_exempt tinyint(1) default 0; ==> (as called by) /Users/scott/Sites/store/admin/sqlpatch.php on line 291 <== in /Users/scott/Sites/store/includes/classes/db/mysql/query_factory.php on line 170.

Examples of plugins which add a ‘bad’ datetime or date field are:

Example fix:

To get the custom datetime field order_delivery_date into the new format, use following command in phpMyAdmin or in Install SQL Patches:

UPDATE orders SET order_delivery_date = '0001-01-01 00:00:00' WHERE order_delivery_date IS NOT NULL AND CAST(order_delivery_date AS CHAR(19)) = '0000-00-00 00:00:00';

Then update the default value using

ALTER TABLE orders MODIFY COLUMN order_delivery_date datetime NOT NULL default '0001-01-01 00:00:00';

To fix a custom field which is a date (instead of a datetime), the process is similar:

UPDATE thetablename SET thefieldname = '0001-01-01' WHERE CAST(thefieldname AS CHAR(10)) = '0000-00-00';

Then update the default value of the field:

ALTER TABLE thetablename MODIFY COLUMN thefieldname date NOT NULL default '0001-01-01';


  1. If you run any commands via phpMyAdmin and your site uses a prefix (e.g. zen_), you will need to add that prefix to any database table name. For the example above, you’ll replace orders with zen_orders.
  2. The PHP code that uses that custom field might be checking for the field’s value to be ‘0000-00-00 00:00:00’ (for a datetime field) or ‘0000-00-00’ (for a date field). So don’t just fix your database - be sure to inspect the associated PHP code and make any changes required there too.

For reference, the script that does the date updating is stored in zc_install/sql/install/zero_dates_cleanup.sql.

Still have questions? Use the Search box in the upper right, or try the full list of FAQs. If you can't find it there, head over to the Zen Cart support forum and ask there in the appropriate subforum. In your post, please include your Zen Cart and PHP versions, and a link to your site.

Is there an error or omission on this page? Please post to General Questions on the support forum. Or, if you'd like to open a pull request, just review the guidelines and get started. You can even PR right here.
Last modified March 18, 2024 by Scott Wilson (3db4324).