c#   string   sort   uppercase   lowercase


I came across this interesting question on StackOverflow today, and thought I’d share it here.

Suppse you have a string like this: aABcCdAcb. I want to sort (or, ‘rearrange’ would be a better term here) it so that it’s sorted alphabetically, and all upper case letters must come before its counterpart lower case. So, the expected output for the above string would be AAaBbCccd.

A string is an array of type char, so converting it into a char array and sorting wouldn’t work since all the lower cases would come before all the upper cases. What we can try is converting it into a string array, and attempt to sort. I’m a big fan of LINQ so I’m going with that.

var strList = "aABcCdAcb".Select(x => x.ToString());
var sorted = string.Concat(strList.OrderBy(x => x));

This almost gets us there, but not quite. The default sort for strings places lower case before upper case, so the resulting string would look like this, which is not quite what we want.

aAAbBccCd

From here on I’ll simply post the excellent answer by Jonathan Chase.

Since you want to get the capitals first, we’ll use the OrdinalIgnoreCase comparer, which will group our characters up.

.OrderBy(x => x, StringComparer.OrdinalIgnoreCase)

Okay, so we’ve now grouped our characters. We’ll now want to sort those groups ordinally to get the capitals to come first, using ThenBy().

.ThenBy(x => x, StringComparer.Ordinal)

Bringing it together, we get the following:

var res = str.Select(x => x.ToString())
             .OrderBy(x => x, StringComparer.OrdinalIgnoreCase)
             .ThenBy(x => x, StringComparer.Ordinal);

Which gives us an IEnumerable that is in the order AAaBbCccd which is what we’re looking for. Now we can do a string.Concat() to put this back into a single string.

var resStr = string.Concat(res);

And we have our expected output, like so: AAaBbCccd

Another way…

Rufus L has a different approach.

The problem is that your code is ordering by the ASCII value, which is 65-90 for uppercase (A-Z) and 97-122 for lowercase (a-z).

Asuming you always want the uppercase letters to come before their lowercase counterparts, we can use a little trick to sort the lowercase letters just after their uppercase value by subtracting 31.5 from the ASCII value before doing the comparison.

By doing this, a becomes 65.5 (97 - 31.5) and will be sorted between A (65) and B (66). Likewise for all the other lower-case letters. This avoids the cost of creating a bunch of new strings for comparison and doing multiple orderings.

string str = "zZYyabCABcxX";
string ordered = string.Concat(str.OrderBy(c => c > 96 && c < 122 ? c - 31.5 : c));
Console.WriteLine(ordered);