One of the most powerful aspects of the WordPress API is WP_Query as it allows us to retrieve a wide variety of content through a relatively simple interface.

That is, it allows us to retrieve complicated datasets ranging from custom post types, post status, date ranges, taxonomies, meta data, categories, and so on all with a relatively standard set of PHP constructs (mainly arrays) and with a really solid reference in the associated Codex article.

One of the nicest things about WP_Queryespecially since WordPress 3.7, are the advanced date query parameters that we can use in order to retrieve information from a specific date range without having to do a lot of complicated date math (which, of course, is every programmer’s favorite aspect of development).

If you learn how to use that particular aspect of WP_Query and you’re familiar with PHP’s strtotime function, then you can retrieve posts from a range of dates easily.

An Example: Get Posts From Last Week

Though this is not the most complicated example, it’s one that I’ve found to be all to common among various projects on which I’ve worked, and it shows off a couple of aspects of WP_Query and strtotime that may be helpful in future work.

Before actually looking at the code, let me clarify that I’m simply going to be retrieving all of the standard posts (that is, all of the posts with post_type = 'post' from the WordPress database) that have been published in the last week.

That’s it.

And for anyone who has worked with dates, your mind may immediately go into thinking: “Okay, so I’ll take today’s date, convert it to a certain format – perhaps UNIX microseconds – subtract seven days from it, convert that to UNIX microseconds, specify a date range, and then run the query.”

I don't want to lose my train of thought.

Or maybe not. I don’t know because I don’t know how flexible the systems you’ve worked with are as it relates to date management.

But here’s a gist of code that shows exactly how to do what I’ve mentioned without any of that complicated date math:

It’s almost too easy, isn’t it?

Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff. Except For Now.

Some people say not to sweat the small stuff, but there are a couple of things worth pointing out in the above query that I think are worth noting.

But if we have to sweat it, is it really small stuff? This isn’t a philosophy article, so I digress.

Anyway, so technically the above query would work if you left out the initial arguments of post_type, post_status‘, orderby, and order.

If you’re looking to retrieve only posts, then leaving out the post_type should be fine, that’s what the default value is; however, if you’re looking to write self-documentating code without someone having to double-check to Codex article to see what kind of information you’re retrieving, then I think it’s a good idea to specify it.

Secondly, post_status is important to specify because if you have posts that are scheduled for a future date but still fall within the past week, it will retrieve that data, as well. To that end, I always specify the publish post status because I only want publicly available, published articles.

As far as the dates are concerned, you can specify these or not. There are default values, but in keeping with the self-documenting code, I tend to show exactly what I’m doing.

And finally, the date_query – this is the most interested part of the code. There are a lot of options that you have as it relates to retrieving information over a specific date range which I’m not going to cover in this post (but be sure to read up on it!).

The key takeaway from this particular article is that the after argument (or the before argument, if you specify it) will be parsed by PHP’s strtotime function which means that you can use relative time strings to calculate time.

As in the example above, I’ve specified 1 week ago which means that any time this query is run, all posts from one week ago from the current time will be retrieved.

Kinda neat, right?

So let’s say that you want to get posts from last week and you want to do so, say, on a Saturday. Then running the above query on a Saturday will retrieve all of the posts that have been published since last Saturday.

Obviously, what I’m doing within the while loop is purely for demo purposes – you can do whatever you’d like – but it demonstrates the point.

“Math is Hard, Let’s Go Shopping!”

Anyway, if you have any interested in attempt to get posts from last week (or custom post types from any date range, really), then play around with WP_Query and the date_queryargument.

It’s pretty cool, and offers up a lot of really neat functionality without some of the hoops you generally have to go through when working with dates.