New feature: Extending timestamp format

Stuart Beattie

Hi everyone,


We are currently investigating an approach to improve and extend the handling of date/times in OpenMAMA.


The current mamaDateTime type, essentially being a 64-bit bitmask, is inflexible and has some built in limitations – such as the 4-byte second field limiting the maximum stored date to the year 2106, as well as being limited to time since the epoch.  The current datetime format is this:

Data Content




32 bits

Needs to be bigger to support times beyond 2106 and also has no ability to represent times before 1970.


20 bits

Maximum value is 1,048,575 - if nanosecond support is ever required, this would be too small (you'd need another 10 bits)


4 bits

Used to store decimal precision.


4 bits

Used to store information on whether or not to display as date / time (one of these bits going spare too, could expand to 2 with changes)

Spare (idle)

4 bits

Could be 6 if you count the values spare in hints


So while there are currently some bytes available to extend this somewhat, if these are used there will be no more room for expansion or new features in the existing format so we are thinking of a more long-term solution.


Instead we are proposing to introduce a new datetime format using a new type which is an actual struct with separate fields for the different elements (seconds, date, time etc.)  While this may be larger (in terms of storage size – eg some bits may go unused), it would have the advantages of:

a)      Being more extensible – fields could be added or changed as necessary without being bound by the current 64 bits

b)      Being more intuitive to work with


Format could be something like:


Data Content

Data Type



int64 (yes - signed)

Not every bit will be used, but easy to work with and will support times prior to 1970.


long int

(Current format has only microseconds)



Again, some bits going spare, but easy to work with.



Again, some bits going spare, but easy to work with.



This is in the early stages so we are asking for input as well as having a few specific questions for developers – with backwards compatibility being a major concern:

-          It is currently possible to serialise a mamaDateTime by using the native bitmask format directly – is anyone out there currently doing this and relying on this being possible?

-          For bridge developers, how do you currently encode timestamps?

-          Does anyone have any other suggestions for the new format?  For example, nanosecond precision, addition of a timestamp, or any other useful features?







Senior Software Engineer


O. +44 28909 93365




Adelaide Exchange Building, 2nd Floor, 24-26 Adelaide Street, Belfast, BT2 8GD | @vela_tt



The information contained in this message may be privileged and confidential and protected from disclosure. If the reader of this message is not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any dissemination, distribution or copying of this communication is strictly prohibited. If you have received this communication in error, please notify us immediately by replying to this message and deleting it from your computer. Thank you. Vela Trading Technologies LLC

Join to automatically receive all group messages.