Handling time

Time in SFML

Unlike many other libraries where time is a uint32 number of milliseconds, or a float number of seconds, SFML doesn't impose any specific unit or type for time values. Instead it leaves this choice to the user through a flexible class: sf::Time. All SFML classes and functions that manipulate time values use this class.

sf::Time represents a time period (in other words, the time that elapses between two events). It is not a date-time class which would represent the current year/month/day/hour/minute/second as a timestamp, it's just a value that represents a certain amount of time, and how to interpret it depends on the context where it is used.

Converting time

A sf::Time value can be constructed from different source units: seconds, milliseconds and microseconds. There is a (non-member) function to turn each of them into a sf::Time:

sf::Time t1 = sf::microseconds(10000);
sf::Time t2 = sf::milliseconds(10);
sf::Time t3 = sf::seconds(0.01f);

Note that these three times are all equal.

Similarly, a sf::Time can be converted back to either seconds, milliseconds or microseconds:

sf::Time time = ...;

sf::Int64 usec = time.asMicroseconds();
sf::Int32 msec = time.asMilliseconds();
float     sec  = time.asSeconds();

Playing with time values

sf::Time is just an amount of time, so it supports arithmetic operations such as addition, subtraction, comparison, etc. Times can also be negative.

sf::Time t1 = ...;
sf::Time t2 = t1 * 2;
sf::Time t3 = t1 + t2;
sf::Time t4 = -t3;

bool b1 = (t1 == t2);
bool b2 = (t3 > t4);

Measuring time

Now that we've seen how to manipulate time values with SFML, let's see how to do something that almost every program needs: measuring the time elapsed.

SFML has a very simple class for measuring time: sf::Clock. It only has two functions: getElapsedTime, to retrieve the time elapsed since the clock started, and restart, to restart the clock.

sf::Clock clock; // starts the clock
...
sf::Time elapsed1 = clock.getElapsedTime();
std::cout << elapsed1.asSeconds() << std::endl;
clock.restart();
...
sf::Time elapsed2 = clock.getElapsedTime();
std::cout << elapsed2.asSeconds() << std::endl;

Note that restart also returns the elapsed time, so that you can avoid the slight gap that would exist if you had to call getElapsedTime explicitly before restart.
Here is an example that uses the time elapsed at each iteration of the game loop to update the game logic:

sf::Clock clock;
while (window.isOpen())
{
sf::Time elapsed = clock.restart();
updateGame(elapsed);
...
}