(xemacs.info)Sorting


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26.6 Sorting Text
=================

XEmacs provides several commands for sorting text in a buffer.  All
operate on the contents of the region (the text between point and the
mark).  They divide the text of the region into many "sort records",
identify a "sort key" for each record, and then reorder the records
using the order determined by the sort keys.  The records are ordered so
that their keys are in alphabetical order, or, for numerical sorting, in
numerical order.  In alphabetical sorting, all upper-case letters `A'
through `Z' come before lower-case `a', in accordance with the ASCII
character sequence.

   The sort commands differ in how they divide the text into sort
records and in which part of each record they use as the sort key.
Most of the commands make each line a separate sort record, but some
commands use paragraphs or pages as sort records.  Most of the sort
commands use each entire sort record as its own sort key, but some use
only a portion of the record as the sort key.

`M-x sort-lines'
     Divide the region into lines and sort by comparing the entire text
     of a line.  A prefix argument means sort in descending order.

`M-x sort-paragraphs'
     Divide the region into paragraphs and sort by comparing the entire
     text of a paragraph (except for leading blank lines).  A prefix
     argument means sort in descending order.

`M-x sort-pages'
     Divide the region into pages and sort by comparing the entire text
     of a page (except for leading blank lines).  A prefix argument
     means sort in descending order.

`M-x sort-fields'
     Divide the region into lines and sort by comparing the contents of
     one field in each line.  Fields are defined as separated by
     whitespace, so the first run of consecutive non-whitespace
     characters in a line constitutes field 1, the second such run
     constitutes field 2, etc.

     You specify which field to sort by with a numeric argument: 1 to
     sort by field 1, etc.  A negative argument means sort in descending
     order.  Thus, minus 2 means sort by field 2 in reverse-alphabetical
     order.

`M-x sort-numeric-fields'
     Like `M-x sort-fields', except the specified field is converted to
     a number for each line and the numbers are compared.  `10' comes
     before `2' when considered as text, but after it when considered
     as a number.

`M-x sort-columns'
     Like `M-x sort-fields', except that the text within each line used
     for comparison comes from a fixed range of columns.  An explanation
     is given below.

   For example, if the buffer contains:

     On systems where clash detection (locking of files being edited) is
     implemented, XEmacs also checks the first time you modify a buffer
     whether the file has changed on disk since it was last visited or
     saved.  If it has, you are asked to confirm that you want to change
     the buffer.

then if you apply `M-x sort-lines' to the entire buffer you get:

     On systems where clash detection (locking of files being edited) is
     implemented, XEmacs also checks the first time you modify a buffer
     saved.  If it has, you are asked to confirm that you want to change
     the buffer.
     whether the file has changed on disk since it was last visited or

where the upper case `O' comes before all lower case letters.  If you
apply instead `C-u 2 M-x sort-fields' you get:

     saved.  If it has, you are asked to confirm that you want to change
     implemented, XEmacs also checks the first time you modify a buffer
     the buffer.
     On systems where clash detection (locking of files being edited) is
     whether the file has changed on disk since it was last visited or

where the sort keys were `If', `XEmacs', `buffer', `systems', and `the'.

   `M-x sort-columns' requires more explanation.  You specify the
columns by putting point at one of the columns and the mark at the other
column.  Because this means you cannot put point or the mark at the
beginning of the first line to sort, this command uses an unusual
definition of `region': all of the line point is in is considered part
of the region, and so is all of the line the mark is in.

   For example, to sort a table by information found in columns 10 to
15, you could put the mark on column 10 in the first line of the table,
and point on column 15 in the last line of the table, and then use this
command.  Or you could put the mark on column 15 in the first line and
point on column 10 in the last line.

   This can be thought of as sorting the rectangle specified by point
and the mark, except that the text on each line to the left or right of
the rectangle moves along with the text inside the rectangle.  Note:
Rectangles.


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