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Sort::Naturally(3)    User Contributed Perl Documentation   Sort::Naturally(3)

NAME
       Sort::Naturally -- sort lexically, but sort numeral parts numerically

SYNOPSIS
	 @them = nsort(qw(
	  foo12a foo12z	foo13a foo 14 9x foo12 fooa foolio Foolio Foo12a
	 ));
	 print join(' ', @them), "\n";

       Prints:

	 9x 14 foo fooa	foolio Foolio foo12 foo12a Foo12a foo12z foo13a

       (Or "foo12a" + "Foo12a" and "foolio" + "Foolio" and might be switched,
       depending on your locale.)

DESCRIPTION
       This module exports two functions, "nsort" and "ncmp"; they are used in
       implementing my idea of a "natural sorting" algorithm.  Under natural
       sorting,	numeric	substrings are compared	numerically, and other word-
       characters are compared lexically.

       This is the way I define	natural	sorting:

       o   Non-numeric word-character substrings are sorted lexically, case-
	   insensitively: "Foo"	comes between "fish" and "fowl".

       o   Numeric substrings are sorted numerically: "100" comes after	"20",
	   not before.

       o   \W substrings (neither words-characters nor digits) are ignored.

       o   Our use of \w, \d, \D, and \W is locale-sensitive:  Sort::Naturally
	   uses	a "use locale" statement.

       o   When	comparing two strings, where a numeric substring in one	place
	   is not up against a numeric substring in another, the non-numeric
	   always comes	first.	This is	fudged by reading pretending that the
	   lack	of a number substring has the value -1,	like so:

	     foo       =>  "foo",  -1
	     foobar    =>  "foo",  -1,	"bar"
	     foo13     =>  "foo",  13,
	     foo13xyz  =>  "foo",  13,	"xyz"

	   That's so that "foo"	will come before "foo13", which	will come
	   before "foobar".

       o   The start of	a string is exceptional: leading non-\W	(non-word,
	   non-digit) components are are ignored, and numbers come before
	   letters.

       o   I define "numeric substring"	just as	sequences matching m/\d+/ --
	   scientific notation,	commas,	decimals, etc.,	are not	seen.  If your
	   data	has thousands separators in numbers ("20,000 Leagues Under The
	   Sea"	or "20.000 lieues sous les mers"), consider stripping them
	   before feeding them to "nsort" or "ncmp".

   The nsort function
       This function takes a list of strings, and returns a copy of the	list,
       sorted.

       This is what most people	will want to use:

	 @stuff	= nsort(...list...);

       When nsort needs	to compare non-numeric substrings, it uses Perl's "lc"
       function	in scope of a <use locale>.  And when nsort needs to lowercase
       things, it uses Perl's "lc" function in scope of	a <use locale>.	 If
       you want	nsort to use other functions instead, you can specify them in
       an arrayref as the first	argument to nsort:

	 @stuff	= nsort( [
			   \&string_comparator,	  # optional
			   \&lowercaser_function  # optional
			 ],
			 ...list...
		       );

       If you want to specify a	string comparator but no lowercaser, then the
       options list is "[\&comparator, '']" or "[\&comparator]".  If you want
       to specify no string comparator but a lowercaser, then the options list
       is "['',	\&lowercaser]".

       Any comparator you specify is called as "$comparator->($left, $right)",
       and, like a normal Perl "cmp" replacement, must return -1, 0, or	1
       depending on whether the	left argument is stringwise less than, equal
       to, or greater than the right argument.

       Any lowercaser function you specify is called as	"$lowercased =
       $lowercaser->($original)".  The routine must not	modify its $_[0].

   The ncmp function
       Often, when sorting non-string values like this:

	  @objects_sorted = sort { $a->tag cmp $b->tag } @objects;

       ...or even in a Schwartzian transform, like this:

	  @strings =
	    map	$_->[0]
	    sort { $a->[1] cmp $b->[1] }
	    map	{ [$_, make_a_sort_key_from($_)	]
	    @_
	  ;

       ...you wight want something that	replaces not "sort", but "cmp".
       That's what Sort::Naturally's "ncmp" function is	for.  Call it with the
       syntax "ncmp($left,$right)" instead of "$left cmp $right", but
       otherwise it's a	fine replacement:

	  @objects_sorted = sort { ncmp($a->tag,$b->tag) } @objects;

	  @strings =
	    map	$_->[0]
	    sort { ncmp($a->[1], $b->[1]) }
	    map	{ [$_, make_a_sort_key_from($_)	]
	    @_
	  ;

       Just as with "nsort" can	take different a string-comparator and/or
       lowercaser, you can do the same with "ncmp", by passing an arrayref as
       the first argument:

	 ncmp( [
		 \&string_comparator,	# optional
		 \&lowercaser_function	# optional
	       ],
	       $left, $right
	     )

       You might get string comparators	from Sort::ArbBiLex.

NOTES
       o   This	module is not a	substitute for Sort::Versions!	If you just
	   need	proper version sorting,	use that!

       o   If you need something that works sort of like this module's
	   functions, but not quite the	same, consider scouting	thru this
	   module's source code, and adapting what you see.  Besides the
	   functions that actually compile in this module, after the POD,
	   there's several alternate attempts of mine at natural sorting
	   routines, which are not compiled as part of the module, but which
	   you might find useful.  They	should all be working implementations
	   of slightly different algorithms (all of them based on Martin
	   Pool's "nsort") which I eventually discarded	in favor of my
	   algorithm.  If you are having to naturally-sort very	large data
	   sets, and sorting is	getting	ridiculously slow, you might consider
	   trying one of those discarded functions -- I	have a feeling they
	   might be faster on large data sets.	Benchmark them on your data
	   and see.  (Unless you need the speed, don't bother.	Hint:
	   substitute "sort" for "nsort" in your code, and unless your program
	   speeds up drastically, it's not the sorting that's slowing things
	   down.  But if it is "nsort" that's slowing things down, consider
	   just:

		 if(@set >= SOME_VERY_BIG_NUMBER) {
		   no locale; #	vroom vroom
		   @sorted = sort(@set);  # feh, good enough
		 } elsif(@set >= SOME_BIG_NUMBER) {
		   use locale;
		   @sorted = sort(@set);  # feh, good enough
		 } else	{
		   # but keep it pretty	for normal cases
		   @sorted = nsort(@set);
		 }

       o   If you do adapt the routines	in this	module,	email me; I'd just be
	   interested in hearing about it.

       o   Thanks to the EFNet #perl people for	encouraging this module,
	   especially magister and a-mused.

COPYRIGHT AND DISCLAIMER
       Copyright 2001, Sean M. Burke "sburke@cpan.org",	all rights reserved.
       This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it
       under the same terms as Perl itself.

       This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but
       without any warranty; without even the implied warranty of
       merchantability or fitness for a	particular purpose.

AUTHOR
       Sean M. Burke "sburke@cpan.org"

perl v5.32.1			  2012-04-11		    Sort::Naturally(3)

NAME | SYNOPSIS | DESCRIPTION | NOTES | COPYRIGHT AND DISCLAIMER | AUTHOR

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