snakile snakile - 2 years ago 131
Python Question

Does Python have a built in function for string natural sort?

Using Python 3.x, I have a list of strings for which I would like to perform a natural alphabetical sort.

Natural sort: The order by which files in Windows are sorted.

For instance, the following list is naturally sorted (what I want):

['elm0', 'elm1', 'Elm2', 'elm9', 'elm10', 'Elm11', 'Elm12', 'elm13']

And here's the "sorted" version of the above list (what I have):

['Elm11', 'Elm12', 'Elm2', 'elm0', 'elm1', 'elm10', 'elm13', 'elm9']

I'm looking for a sort function which behaves like the first one.

Answer Source

There is a third party library for this on PyPI called natsort (full disclosure, I am the package's author). For your case, you can do either of the following:

>>> from natsort import natsorted, ns
>>> x = ['Elm11', 'Elm12', 'Elm2', 'elm0', 'elm1', 'elm10', 'elm13', 'elm9']
>>> natsorted(x, key=lambda y: y.lower())
['elm0', 'elm1', 'Elm2', 'elm9', 'elm10', 'Elm11', 'Elm12', 'elm13']
>>> natsorted(x, alg=ns.IGNORECASE)  # or alg=ns.IC
['elm0', 'elm1', 'Elm2', 'elm9', 'elm10', 'Elm11', 'Elm12', 'elm13']

You should note that natsort uses a general algorithm so it should work for just about any input that you throw at it.

If you need a sorting key instead of a sorting function, use either of the below formulas.

>>> from natsort import natsort_keygen, ns
>>> l1 = ['elm0', 'elm1', 'Elm2', 'elm9', 'elm10', 'Elm11', 'Elm12', 'elm13']
>>> l2 = l1[:]
>>> natsort_key1 = natsort_keygen(key=lambda y: y.lower())
>>> l1.sort(key=natsort_key1)
>>> l1
['elm0', 'elm1', 'Elm2', 'elm9', 'elm10', 'Elm11', 'Elm12', 'elm13']
>>> natsort_key2 = natsort_keygen(alg=ns.IGNORECASE)
>>> l2.sort(key=natsort_key2)
>>> l2
['elm0', 'elm1', 'Elm2', 'elm9', 'elm10', 'Elm11', 'Elm12', 'elm13']
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