ScotlandPHP 2019

natsort

(PHP 4, PHP 5, PHP 7)

natsortSort an array using a "natural order" algorithm

Description

natsort ( array &\$array ) : bool

This function implements a sort algorithm that orders alphanumeric strings in the way a human being would while maintaining key/value associations. This is described as a "natural ordering". An example of the difference between this algorithm and the regular computer string sorting algorithms (used in sort()) can be seen in the example below.

Note:

If two members compare as equal, their relative order in the sorted array is undefined.

array

The input array.

Return Values

Returns TRUE on success or FALSE on failure.

Changelog

Version Description
5.2.10 Zero padded numeric strings (e.g., '00005') now essentially ignore the 0 padding.

Examples

Example #1 natsort() examples demonstrating basic usage

<?php
\$array1
\$array2 = array("img12.png""img10.png""img2.png""img1.png");

asort(\$array1);
echo
"Standard sorting\n";
print_r(\$array1);

natsort(\$array2);
echo
"\nNatural order sorting\n";
print_r(\$array2);
?>

The above example will output:

Standard sorting
Array
(
[3] => img1.png
[1] => img10.png
[0] => img12.png
[2] => img2.png
)

Natural order sorting
Array
(
[3] => img1.png
[2] => img2.png
[1] => img10.png
[0] => img12.png
)

For more information see: Martin Pool's » Natural Order String Comparison page.

Example #2 natsort() examples demonstrating potential gotchas

<?php
echo "Negative numbers\n";
\$negative = array('-5','3','-2','0','-1000','9','1');
print_r(\$negative);
natsort(\$negative);
print_r(\$negative);

echo
\$zeros = array('09''8''10''009''011''0');
print_r(\$zeros);
natsort(\$zeros);
print_r(\$zeros);
?>

The above example will output:

Negative numbers
Array
(
[0] => -5
[1] => 3
[2] => -2
[3] => 0
[4] => -1000
[5] => 9
[6] => 1
)
Array
(
[2] => -2
[0] => -5
[4] => -1000
[3] => 0
[6] => 1
[1] => 3
[5] => 9
)

Array
(
[0] => 09
[1] => 8
[2] => 10
[3] => 009
[4] => 011
[5] => 0
)
Array
(
[5] => 0
[1] => 8
[3] => 009
[0] => 09
[2] => 10
[4] => 011
)

User Contributed Notes 22 notes

26
wyvern at greywyvern dot com
10 years ago
There's no need to include your own API code to natsort an associative array by key.  PHP's in-built functions (other than natsort) can do the job just fine:

<?php
uksort
(\$myArray, "strnatcmp");
?>
13
Johan GENNESSON (php at genjo dot fr)
8 years ago
Be careful of the new behaviour in 5.2.10 version.
See the following sample:

<?php

\$array
= array('1 bis', '10 ter', '0 PHP', '0', '01', '01 Ver', '0 ', '1 ', '1');

natsort(\$array);
echo
'<pre>';
print_r(\$array);
echo
'</pre>';
?>

5.2.6-1 will output:
Array
(
[3] => 0
[6] => 0
[2] => 0 OP
[4] => 01
[5] => 01 Ver
[8] => 1
[7] => 1
[0] => 1 bis
[1] => 10 ter
)

5.2.10 will output:
Array
(
[6] => 0
[3] => 0
[8] => 1
[4] => 01
[7] => 1
[5] => 01 Ver
[0] => 1 bis
[1] => 10 ter
[2] => 0 OP
)

Greetings
15 years ago
Under limited testing, natsort() appears to work well for IP addresses. For my needs, it is far less code than the ip2long()/long2ip() conversion I was using before.
rasmus at flajm dot com
15 years ago
To make a reverse function, you can simply:

function rnatsort(&\$a){
natsort(\$a);
\$a = array_reverse(\$a, true);
}
flash at minet dot net
15 years ago
About the reverse natsort.. Maybe simpler to do :

function strrnatcmp (\$a, \$b) {
return strnatcmp (\$b, \$a);
}
mbirth at webwriters dot de
15 years ago
For those who want to natsort a 2d-array on the first element of each sub-array, the following few lines should do the job.

<?php

function natsort2d(&\$aryInput) {

\$aryTemp = \$aryOut = array();
foreach (
\$aryInput as \$key=>\$value) {

reset(\$value);

\$aryTemp[\$key]=current(\$value);
}

natsort(\$aryTemp);
foreach (
\$aryTemp as \$key=>\$value) {

\$aryOut[] = \$aryInput[\$key];
}

\$aryInput = \$aryOut;
}

?>
bb7b5b9 at gmail dot com
3 years ago
This made me waste a lot of my precious youth ... natsort() is buggy if all numbers don't have the same number of decimal places.

(php 5.6.4-4ubuntu6.2)

<?php
\$different_decimal_places_in_values
= array('D'=>'13.59', '14.6' => '14.6', 'C-' => '14.19');
natsort(\$a);
var_dump(\$a);

/*echoes
array(3) {
'D' =>
string(5) "13.59"
'14.6' =>
'C-' =>
string(5) "14.19"
}*/
?>

While this

<?php
\$same_num_decimal_places_in_values
= array('D'=>'13.59', '14.6' => '14.60', 'C-' => '14.19'); natsort(\$a); var_dump(\$a);

/*echoes
array(3) {
'D' =>
string(5) "13.59"
'C-' =>
string(5) "14.19"
'14.6' =>
string(5) "14.60" <--------- that is the correct position
}
*/

?>
anonymous at coward dot net
15 years ago
Reverse Natsort:

function rnatsort(\$a, \$b) {
return -1 * strnatcmp(\$a, \$b);
}

usort(\$arr, "rnatsort");
ale152
9 years ago
Note: negatives number.
<?php
\$a
= array(-5,-2,3,9);
natsort(\$a);
print_r(\$a);
?>
Will output:
Array ( [1] => -2 [0] => -5 [2] => 3 [3] => 9 )
natcasesort.too
13 years ago
I got caught out through naive use of this feature - attempting to sort a list of image filenames from a digital camera, where the filenames are leading zero padded (e.g. DSCF0120.jpg) , will not sort correctly.
Maybe the example could be modified to exhibit this behaviour
(e.g. set array to -img0120.jpg','IMG0.png', 'img0012.png', 'img10.png', 'img2.png', 'img1.png', 'IMG3.png)
If the example hadn't used images I would have coded it correctly first time around!
phpnet at moritz-abraham dot de
14 years ago
additional to the code posted by justin at redwiredesign dot com (which I found very usefull) here is a function that sorts complex arrays like this:
<?
\$array['test0'] = array('main' =>  'a', 'sub' => 'a');
\$array['test2'] = array('main' =>  'a', 'sub' => 'b');
\$array['test3'] = array('main' =>  'b', 'sub' => 'c');
\$array['test1'] = array('main' =>  'a', 'sub' => 'c');
\$array['test4'] = array('main' =>  'b', 'sub' => 'a');
\$array['test5'] = array('main' =>  'b', 'sub' => 'b');
?>
or
<?
\$array[0] = array('main' =>  1, 'sub' => 1);
\$array[2] = array('main' =>  1, 'sub' => 2);
\$array[3] = array('main' =>  2, 'sub' => 3);
\$array[1] = array('main' =>  1, 'sub' => 3);
\$array[4] = array('main' =>  2, 'sub' => 1);
\$array[5] = array('main' =>  2, 'sub' => 2);
?>
on one or more columns.

the code
<? \$array = array_natsort_list(\$array,'main','sub'); ?>
will result in \$array being sortet like this:
test0,test2,test1,test4,test5,test3
or
0,2,1,4,5,3.

you may even submit more values to the function as it uses a variable parameter list. the function starts sorting on the last and the goes on until the first sorting column is reached.

here is the function:
<?
function array_natsort_list(\$array) {
// for all arguments without the first starting at end of list
for (\$i=func_num_args();\$i>1;\$i--) {
// get column to sort by
\$sort_by = func_get_arg(\$i-1);
// clear arrays
\$new_array = array();
\$temporary_array = array();
// walk through original array
foreach(\$array as \$original_key => \$original_value) {
// and save only values
\$temporary_array[] = \$original_value[\$sort_by];
}
// sort array on values
natsort(\$temporary_array);
// delete double values
\$temporary_array = array_unique(\$temporary_array);
// walk through temporary array
foreach(\$temporary_array as \$temporary_value) {
// walk through original array
foreach(\$array as \$original_key => \$original_value) {
// and search for entries having the right value
if(\$temporary_value == \$original_value[\$sort_by]) {
// save in new array
\$new_array[\$original_key] = \$original_value;
}
}
}
// update original array
\$array = \$new_array;
}
return \$array;
}
?>
h3
12 years ago
This function can be very usefull, but in some cases, like if you want to sort a MySQL query result, it's important to keep in mind that MySQL as built'in sorting functions which are way faster than resorting the result using a complex php algorythm, especially with large arrays.

ex; 'SELECT * FROM `table` ORDER BY columnName ASC, columnName2 DESC'
dotancohen splat gmail spot com
1 year ago
As noted in other notes, natsort() does _not_ always return the expected sort order. It seems especially buggy when decimals or 0 padding is used. I've filed this bug report on the issue:
https://bugs.php.net/bug.php?id=74672
mvs dot php at gmail dot com
3 years ago
To naturally sort by array key, the uksort function can be used.

<?php

echo "Sort by keys\n";
\$smoothie = array('orange' => 1, 'apple' => 1, 'yogurt' => 4, 'banana' => 4);
print_r(\$smoothie);
uksort( \$smoothie, 'strnatcmp');
print_r(\$smoothie)

?>

Output:

Sort by keys
Array
(
[orange] => 1
[apple]  => 1
[yogurt] => 4
[banana] => 4
)
Array
(
[apple]  => 1
[banana] => 4
[orange] => 1
[yogurt] => 4
)

Malek Mohamed
6 months ago
\$array1 = \$array2 = array('IMG0.png', 'img12.png', 'img10.png', 'img2.png', 'img1.png', 'IMG3.png');

natsort(\$array1);
echo "\n natsort(); \n";
print_r(\$array1);

sort(\$array2, SORT_NATURAL);
echo "\n sort() with  SORT_NATURAL Option\n";
print_r(\$array2);

Ouput:

natsort();
Array
(
[0] => IMG0.png
[5] => IMG3.png
[4] => img1.png
[3] => img2.png
[2] => img10.png
[1] => img12.png
)

sort() with  SORT_NATURAL Option
Array
(
[0] => IMG0.png
[1] => IMG3.png
[2] => img1.png
[3] => img2.png
[4] => img10.png
[5] => img12.png
)

as we can see it's  the same values but not the same keys, and also it's same for sort(\$array1, SORT_NATURAL | SORT_FLAG_CASE); and natcasesort(\$array2)
lacent at gmail dot com
12 years ago
there is another rnatsort function lower on the page, but it didn't work in the context i needed it in.

reasoning for this:
sorting naturally via the keys of an array, but needing to reverse the order.

function rnatsort ( &\$array = array() )
{
\$keys    = array_keys(\$array);
natsort(\$keys);
\$total    = count(\$keys) - 1;
\$temp1    = array();
\$temp2     = array();

// assigning original keys to an array with a backwards set of keys, to use in krsort();
foreach ( \$keys as \$key )
{
\$temp1[\$total] = \$key;
--\$total;
}

ksort(\$temp1);

// setting the new array, with the order from the krsort() and the values of original array.
foreach ( \$temp1 as \$key )
{
\$temp2[\$key] = \$array[\$key];
}

\$array = \$temp2;
}
@gmail bereikme
12 years ago
Here's a handy function to sort an array on 1 or more columns using natural sort:
<?php
// Example: \$records = columnSort(\$records, array('name', 'asc', 'addres', 'desc', 'city', 'asc'));

\$globalMultisortVar = array();
function
columnSort(\$recs, \$cols) {
global
\$globalMultisortVar;

\$globalMultisortVar = \$cols;

usort(\$recs, 'multiStrnatcmp');
return(
\$recs);
}

function
multiStrnatcmp(\$a, \$b) {
global
\$globalMultisortVar;

\$cols = \$globalMultisortVar;

\$i = 0;

\$result = 0;
while (
\$result == 0 && \$i < count(\$cols)) {

\$result = (\$cols[\$i + 1] == 'desc' ? strnatcmp(\$b[\$cols[\$i]], \$a[\$cols[\$i]]) : \$result = strnatcmp(\$a[\$cols[\$i]], \$b[\$cols[\$i]]));

\$i+=2;
}
return
\$result;
}

?>

Greetings,

- John
-1
lil at thedreamersmaze dot spam-me-not dot org
12 years ago
There's one little thing missing in this useful bit of code posted by mbirth at webwriters dot de:

<?php

function natsort2d(&\$aryInput) {

\$aryTemp = \$aryOut = array();
foreach (
\$aryInput as \$key=>\$value) {

reset(\$value);

\$aryTemp[\$key]=current(\$value);
}

natsort(\$aryTemp);
foreach (
\$aryTemp as \$key=>\$value) {

\$aryOut[\$key] = \$aryInput[\$key];

}

\$aryInput = \$aryOut;
}

?>
-2
Christoph
9 years ago
Note:

The natsort function will sort depending on the operating system, but not depending on either Linux or Windows-based systems

There's a difference when sorting an array which is generated from the filesystem:
Array(
[0] => ./system/kernel/js/01_ui.core.js
[1] => ./system/kernel/js/00_jquery-1.3.2.js
[2] => ./system/kernel/js/02_my.desktop.js
)

natsort(\$array) will result in two different ways:

Case 1: (Debian)
Array(
[1] => ./system/kernel/js/00_jquery-1.3.2.js
[0] => ./system/kernel/js/01_ui.core.js
[2] => ./system/kernel/js/02_my.desktop.js
)

Case 2: (Debian Kernel, but Ubuntu shadowed php-Version)
Array(
[0] => ./system/kernel/js/01_ui.core.js
[2] => ./system/kernel/js/02_my.desktop.js
[1] => ./system/kernel/js/00_jquery-1.3.2.js
)

...so make sure you've named the files beginning with 01, then it works fine.
-1
Anonymous
12 years ago
The last comment should have been posted in doc about (r)sort( ). Indeed, and unfortunately, ORDER BY *does not* perform natural ordering. So, sometimes we *must* do a SQL request followed by natsort( ).
-3
AJenbo
10 years ago
natsort might not act like you would expect with zero padding, heres a quick sample.

<?php
\$array
= array('09', '8', '10', '009', '011');
natsort(\$array);
?>
/*
Array
(
[3] => 009
[4] => 011
[0] => 09
[1] => 8
[2] => 10
)
*/
-4
justin at redwiredesign dot com
15 years ago
One of the things I've needed to do lately is apply natural sorting to a complex array, e.g.:

Array
(
[0] => Array
(
[ID] = 4
[name] = Fred
)

[1] => Array
(
[ID] = 6
[name] = Bob
)
)

where I want to sort the parent array by the child's name. I couldn't see a way of doing this using array_walk, so I've written a simple function to do it. Hopefully someone will find this useful:

/**
* @return Returns the array sorted as required
* @param \$aryData Array containing data to sort
* @param \$strIndex Name of column to use as an index
* @param \$strSortBy Column to sort the array by
* @param \$strSortType String containing either asc or desc [default to asc]
* @desc Naturally sorts an array using by the column \$strSortBy
*/
function array_natsort(\$aryData, \$strIndex, \$strSortBy, \$strSortType=false)
{
//    if the parameters are invalid
if (!is_array(\$aryData) || !\$strIndex || !\$strSortBy)
//    return the array
return \$aryData;

//    create our temporary arrays
\$arySort = \$aryResult = array();

//    loop through the array
foreach (\$aryData as \$aryRow)
//    set up the value in the array
\$arySort[\$aryRow[\$strIndex]] = \$aryRow[\$strSortBy];

//    apply the natural sort
natsort(\$arySort);

//    if the sort type is descending
if (\$strSortType=="desc")
//    reverse the array
arsort(\$arySort);

//    loop through the sorted and original data
foreach (\$arySort as \$arySortKey => \$arySorted)
foreach (\$aryData as \$aryOriginal)
//    if the key matches
if (\$aryOriginal[\$strIndex]==\$arySortKey)
//    add it to the output array
array_push(\$aryResult, \$aryOriginal);

//    return the return
return \$aryResult;
}