# Natural sorting

Sort data with a mix of numbers and letters naturally.

Data can often be a complicated mix of numbers and letters (file names are a common example) and sorting them in a natural manner is quite a difficult problem.

Fortunately a deal of work has already been done in this area by other authors - the following plug-in uses the naturalSort() function by Jim Palmer to provide natural sorting in DataTables.

## Plug-in code

``````(function() {

/*
* Natural Sort algorithm for Javascript - Version 0.7 - Released under MIT license
* Author: Jim Palmer (based on chunking idea from Dave Koelle)
* Contributors: Mike Grier (mgrier.com), Clint Priest, Kyle Adams, guillermo
*/
function naturalSort (a, b, html) {
var re = /(^-?[0-9]+(\.?[0-9]*)[df]?e?[0-9]?%?\$|^0x[0-9a-f]+\$|[0-9]+)/gi,
sre = /(^[ ]*|[ ]*\$)/g,
dre = /(^([\w ]+,?[\w ]+)?[\w ]+,?[\w ]+\d+:\d+(:\d+)?[\w ]?|^\d{1,4}[\/\-]\d{1,4}[\/\-]\d{1,4}|^\w+, \w+ \d+, \d{4})/,
hre = /^0x[0-9a-f]+\$/i,
ore = /^0/,
htmre = /(<([^>]+)>)/ig,
// convert all to strings and trim()
x = a.toString().replace(sre, '') || '',
y = b.toString().replace(sre, '') || '';
// remove html from strings if desired
if (!html) {
x = x.replace(htmre, '');
y = y.replace(htmre, '');
}
// chunk/tokenize
var xN = x.replace(re, '\0\$1\0').replace(/\0\$/,'').replace(/^\0/,'').split('\0'),
yN = y.replace(re, '\0\$1\0').replace(/\0\$/,'').replace(/^\0/,'').split('\0'),
// numeric, hex or date detection
xD = parseInt(x.match(hre), 10) || (xN.length !== 1 && x.match(dre) && Date.parse(x)),
yD = parseInt(y.match(hre), 10) || xD && y.match(dre) && Date.parse(y) || null;

// first try and sort Hex codes or Dates
if (yD) {
if ( xD < yD ) {
return -1;
}
else if ( xD > yD ) {
return 1;
}
}

// natural sorting through split numeric strings and default strings
for(var cLoc=0, numS=Math.max(xN.length, yN.length); cLoc < numS; cLoc++) {
// find floats not starting with '0', string or 0 if not defined (Clint Priest)
var oFxNcL = !(xN[cLoc] || '').match(ore) && parseFloat(xN[cLoc], 10) || xN[cLoc] || 0;
var oFyNcL = !(yN[cLoc] || '').match(ore) && parseFloat(yN[cLoc], 10) || yN[cLoc] || 0;
// handle numeric vs string comparison - number < string - (Kyle Adams)
if (isNaN(oFxNcL) !== isNaN(oFyNcL)) {
return (isNaN(oFxNcL)) ? 1 : -1;
}
// rely on string comparison if different types - i.e. '02' < 2 != '02' < '2'
else if (typeof oFxNcL !== typeof oFyNcL) {
oFxNcL += '';
oFyNcL += '';
}
if (oFxNcL < oFyNcL) {
return -1;
}
if (oFxNcL > oFyNcL) {
return 1;
}
}
return 0;
}

jQuery.extend( jQuery.fn.dataTableExt.oSort, {
"natural-asc": function ( a, b ) {
return naturalSort(a,b,true);
},

"natural-desc": function ( a, b ) {
return naturalSort(a,b,true) * -1;
},

"natural-nohtml-asc": function( a, b ) {
return naturalSort(a,b,false);
},

"natural-nohtml-desc": function( a, b ) {
return naturalSort(a,b,false) * -1;
},

"natural-ci-asc": function( a, b ) {
a = a.toString().toLowerCase();
b = b.toString().toLowerCase();

return naturalSort(a,b,true);
},

"natural-ci-desc": function( a, b ) {
a = a.toString().toLowerCase();
b = b.toString().toLowerCase();

return naturalSort(a,b,true) * -1;
}
} );

}());
``````

## CDN

This plug-in is available on the DataTables CDN:

JS

Note that if you are using multiple plug-ins, it is beneficial in terms of performance to combine the plug-ins into a single file and host it on your own server, rather than making multiple requests to the DataTables CDN.

## Version control

If you have any ideas for how this plug-in can be improved, or spot anything that is in error, it is available on GitHub and pull requests are very welcome!

## Example

``````\$('#example').dataTable( {
columnDefs: [
{ type: 'natural', targets: 0 }
]
} );

Html can be stripped from sorting by using 'natural-nohtml' such as

\$('#example').dataTable( {
columnDefs: [
{ type: 'natural-nohtml', targets: 0 }
]
} );
``````