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Add buffer time to bookings in time-based listings

This guide describes how to modify booking times in time-based listings to have a buffer after the time slots

Table of Contents

For some services booked by the hour, the provider may want to reserve a buffer time between bookings. For instance a bike rental agency may want to check their bikes between rentals, or a massage therapist may need to clear up and restock their therapy space before the next customer arrives. You can set your marketplace to add these kinds of buffers by default, so providers do not need to add availability exceptions manually.

Add a 15 minute buffer between one hour bookings

The simplest use case for buffered bookings is having one hour slots that are bookable at the top of the hour, and adding 15 minutes of unbookable time after each slot. To achieve that, we will use the booking's display time attribute.

First, we will add a helper function in src/util/dates.js file to add the correct buffer time.

└── src
    └── util
        └── dates.js
+ const bufferMinutes = 15;

+ export const addBuffer = (date) => moment(date).add(bufferMinutes, 'minutes').toDate();

Add display end time handling

The user can select one hour booking slots on the listing page. When an order gets initiated, we want to set the selected end time as the display time, and a new buffered end time as the actual booking time. This way, the booking extends over both the customer's booking time and the buffer, so that other customers can not book over the buffer. We use the newly created addBuffer function to extend the display end time.

└── src
    └── containers
        └── CheckoutPage
            └── CheckoutPage.duck.js
+ import { addBuffer } from '../../util/dates';

export const initiateOrder = (orderParams, transactionId) => (dispatch, getState, sdk) => {
  const quantityMaybe = quantity ? { stockReservationQuantity: quantity } : {};

- const bookingParamsMaybe = bookingDates || {};
+ let bookingParamsMaybe = {};
+ if (bookingDates) {
+   bookingParamsMaybe = {
+     ...bookingDates,
+     bookingEnd: addBuffer(bookingDates.bookingEnd),
+     bookingDisplayEnd: bookingDates.bookingEnd,
+     bookingDisplayStart: bookingDates.bookingStart,
+   }
+ }

  // Parameters only for client app's server
  const orderData = deliveryMethod ? { deliveryMethod } : {};

We also need to modify line item calculation. By default, the transaction's price is calculated based on the booking's start and end moments, however in this case we want to use the display end attribute for the price calculation.

└── server
    └── api-util
        └── lineItems.js

We have already passed displayEnd in bookingData, so we just need to add handling for it in lineItems.js. Since the function is used both with and without display end time, e.g. when calling api/transaction-line-items, we need to accommodate both use cases.

The lineItems.js file has a helper function for calculating hourly booking quantity, so we can modify it directly.

const getHourQuantityAndLineItems = orderData => {
- const { bookingStart, bookingEnd } = orderData || {};
+ const { bookingStart, bookingEnd, bookingDisplayEnd } = orderData || {};
+ const end = bookingDisplayEnd ?? bookingEnd;
  const quantity =
-   bookingStart && bookingEnd ? calculateQuantityFromHours(bookingStart, bookingEnd) : null;
+   bookingStart && end ? calculateQuantityFromHours(bookingStart, end) : null;

  return { quantity, extraLineItems: [] };

Set getStartHours to return correct available start times

Finally, we need to make sure that the start time slots only show valid start times including the buffer – if someone has booked 6pm to 7pm, then another customer cannot book 5pm to 6pm because there is not enough availability for both the time slot and the buffer.

└── src
    └── util
        └── dates.js

First, add a constant for a full hour in addition to the buffer time.

  const bufferMinutes = 15;
+ const hourMinutes = 60;

Then, fix getStartHours handling. By default, start hours and end hours are determined from the same list, so getStartHours removes the final list item to allow for a single hour between the final start and end times.

However, when the actual booking slot is longer than the displayed one, we need to make sure that the interval between the final start and end times can fit a buffered booking. Therefore, instead of removing a single start time to fit a one hour booking slot, we remove as many start times as it takes to fit a buffered hour before the final end time.

export const getStartHours = (startTime, endTime, timeZone, intl) => {
  const hours = getSharpHours(startTime, endTime, timeZone, intl);
- return hours.length < 2 ? hours : hours.slice(0, -1);
+ const removeCount = Math.ceil((hourMinutes + bufferMinutes) / hourMinutes);
+ return hours.length < removeCount ? [] : hours.slice(0, -removeCount);

Allow users to book buffered appointments at non-sharp hours

Having this kind of setup then means that the slots are, in practice, bookable every two hours. If we do not want to leave extra gaps between bookings beyond the buffer, we can set start times to repeat on the buffer time cadence instead of hourly. That way, if someone books the 8 AM - 9 AM slot, the next available start time is 9.15 AM i.e. right after the buffer.

In other words, we need to have start and end times at a different cycle:

  • start times at 15 minute increments i.e. a customer can start their booking at any quarter hour, instead of at the top of the hour only
  • end times at one hour increments, i.e. the customer can book one or more full hours only.

Time slot handling is done using a few helper functions in src/util/dates.js

└── src
    └── util
        └── dates.js
  • getStartHours and getEndHours return a list of timepoints that are displayed as the booking's possible start and end moments, respectively. They both use the same helper function getSharpHours
  • getSharpHours retrieves the sharp hours that exist within the availability time slot. It uses the findBookingUnitBoundaries function.
  • findBookingUnitBoundaries is a recursive function that checks whether the current boundary (e.g. sharp hour) passed to it falls within the availability time slot.
    • If the current boundary is within the availability time slot, the function calls itself with the next boundary and cumulates the boundary results into an array.
    • If the current boundary does not fall within the availability time slot, the function returns the cumulated results from the previous iterations.
    • findBookingUnitBoundaries takes a nextBoundaryFn parameter that it uses to determine the next boundary value to pass to itself.
  • the function passed as nextBoundaryFn by default is findNextBoundary. The findNextBoundary function increments the current boundary by a predefined value.
export const findNextBoundary = (timeZone, currentMomentOrDate) =>
    .add(1, 'hour') // The default handling uses hours
    .startOf('hour') // By default, the time slot is rounded to the start of the hour

In addition to findBookingUnitBoundaries, the template uses findNextBoundary to handle other time increment boundaries. That is why, instead of modifying findNextBoundary directly, we will create a similar function called findNextCustomBoundary to be used in findBookingUnitBoundaries, so we do not need to worry about side effects.

Add a custom rounding function for moment.js

The template hourly listing handling uses the moment-timezone library to modify times and dates and convert them between the listing's time zone and the user's time zone.

By default, the findNextBoundary function uses moment.startOf('hour') to round the booking slots to the top of each hour. For findNextCustomBoundary – since we are now dealing with minutes – we need to create a custom rounding function to replace the startOf('hour') function call. When we add it to moment.js using the prototype exposed through moment.fn, we can chain it in the same place as the default startOf('hour') function.

This rounding function rounds to sharp hours when the buffer minutes value is a factor of an hour, e.g. 15, 20 or 30 minutes.

 * Rounding function for moment.js. Rounds the Moment provided by the context
 * to the start of the specified time value in the specified units.
 * @param {*} value the rounding value
 * @param {*} timeUnit time units to specify the value
 * @returns Moment rounded to the start of the specified time value
moment.fn.startOfDuration = function(value, timeUnit) {
  const getMs = (val, unit) =>
    moment.duration(val, unit).asMilliseconds();
  const ms = getMs(value, timeUnit);

  // Get UTC offset to account for potential time zone difference between
  // customer and listing
  const offsetMs = this._isUTC ? 0 : getMs(this.utcOffset(), 'minute');
  return moment(Math.floor((this.valueOf() + offsetMs) / ms) * ms);

Add a custom boundary function

We will create a new findNextCustomBoundary function to replace the default usage. We will use the new rounding function to replace the built-in startOf() function in our function.

We also need to calculate the increment of time to add to each time boundary, i.e. how long are the stretches of time delineated by the boundaries. To do that, we need an isStart attribute, i.e. whether we're dealing with start times or end times.

In addition we need an isFirst attribute indicating whether the boundary in question is the very first one in the list. Since we're rounding to the buffer time (here: 15 minutes), we'll need to manually set the first time slot to correspond to the start of the available time slot.

export const findNextCustomBoundary = (
) => {
  // For end time slots (i.e. not start slots), add a full hour.
  // For the first start slot, use the actual start time.
  // For other start slots, use the buffer time.
  const increment = !isStart
    ? hourMinutes
    : isFirst
    ? 0
    : bufferMinutes;

  return moment(currentMomentOrDate)
    .add(increment, timeUnit)
    .startOfDuration(bufferMinutes, timeUnit)

Use new boundary function in helper functions

The default findNextBoundary function is called from the findBookingUnitBoundaries function, so we need to replace it with the findNextCustomBoundary function and make sure the isStart and isFirst parameters are passed correctly. The function gets findNextBoundary function as the nextBoundaryFn parameter.

const findBookingUnitBoundaries = params => {
  const {
+   isStart,
    timeUnit = 'hour',
  } = params;

  if (moment(currentBoundary).isBetween(startMoment, endMoment, null, '[]')) {
    const timeOfDay = formatDateIntoPartials(currentBoundary, intl, { timeZone })?.time;

+   // The nextBoundaryFn by definition cannot determine the first timepoint, since it
+   // is always based on a previous boundary, we pass 'false' as the 'isFirst' param
+   const isFirst = false;

    // Choose the previous (aka first) sharp hour boundary,
    // if daylight saving time (DST) creates the same time of day two times.
    const newBoundary =
      cumulatedResults &&
      cumulatedResults.length > 0 &&
      cumulatedResults.slice(-1)[0].timeOfDay === timeOfDay
        ? []
        : [
              timestamp: currentBoundary.valueOf(),

    return findBookingUnitBoundaries({
      cumulatedResults: [...cumulatedResults, ...newBoundary],
-     currentBoundary: moment(nextBoundaryFn(currentBoundary, timeUnit, timeZone)),
+     currentBoundary: moment(nextBoundaryFn(currentBoundary, timeUnit, timeZone, isFirst, isStart)),
  return cumulatedResults;

The findBookingUnitBoundaries, in turn, is called from getSharpHours. We need to use findNextCustomBoundary for findBookingUnitBoundaries, pass the isStart and isFirst parameters with the first currentBoundary definition, as well as add the isStart parameter to the findBookingUnitBoundaries function call.

In addition, we need to use the actual start time instead of the one millisecond before, which is used by default. This is necessary because instead of adding an hour and rounding off an hour as in the default implementation, we are now manually setting the start time to the beginning of the available time slot.

- export const getSharpHours = (startTime, endTime, timeZone, intl) => {
+ export const getSharpHours = (startTime, endTime, timeZone, intl, isStart = false) => {
    if (!moment.tz.zone(timeZone)) {
      throw new Error(
        'Time zones are not loaded into moment-timezone. "getSharpHours" function uses time zones.'
+   const isFirst = true;
    // Select a moment before startTime to find next possible sharp hour.
    // I.e. startTime might be a sharp hour.
    const millisecondBeforeStartTime = new Date(startTime.getTime() - 1);
    return findBookingUnitBoundaries({
-     currentBoundary: findNextBoundary(millisecondBeforeStartTime, 'hour', timeZone),
+     currentBoundary: findNextCustomBoundary(startTime, 'minute', timeZone, isFirst, isStart),
      startMoment: moment(startTime),
      endMoment: moment(endTime),
-     nextBoundaryFn: findNextBoundary,
+     nextBoundaryFn: findNextCustomBoundary,
      cumulatedResults: [],
-     timeUnit: 'hour',
+     isStart,
+     timeUnit: 'minutes',

Fix getStartHours and getEndHours handling

To get correct start times, we need to first pass true as the isStart parameter from getStartHours to getSharpHours.

In addition, we again need to make sure that even when selecting the last start time, there is enough availability for the first timeslot. Since the first time slots are now set at the buffer minute interval, we divide the full booking time by bufferMinutes to get the correct removeCount value.

export const getStartHours = (startTime, endTime, timeZone, intl) => {
- const hours = getSharpHours(startTime, endTime, timeZone, intl);
- const removeCount = Math.ceil((hourMinutes + bufferMinutes) / hourMinutes)
+ const hours = getSharpHours(startTime, endTime, timeZone, intl, true);
+ const removeCount = Math.ceil((hourMinutes + bufferMinutes) / bufferMinutes)
  return hours.length < removeCount ? [] : hours.slice(0, -removeCount);

Finally, we can simplify the end hour handling. Since the first entry is determined in the findNextBoundary function, we do not need to remove it. Instead, we can just return the full list from getSharpHours.

  export const getEndHours = (intl, timeZone, startTime, endTime) => {
-   const hours = getSharpHours(startTime, endTime, timeZone, intl);
-   return hours.length < 2 ? [] : hours.slice(1);
+   return getSharpHours(startTime, endTime, timeZone, intl);

Now, if we have a booking from 9 AM to 10 AM with a 15 minute buffer at the end, the next customer can start their booking at 10:15 AM. Conversely, the previous booking can begin 7:45 AM and no later, so that the buffered time slot can fit in before the already booked session.

Booking start options buffered time slots