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Sorting a list of hashes

Posted by enquirer (enquirer), 14 April 2005
I have an array @responses. Each element of this array is a hash.

I want to sort the array depending on an element of the hash, how would I do this? To be a bit more specific; each hash has a 'submitted' key containing a number pertaining to when the response in question was submitted, I want to sort the @responses array based on this value. Does that makes sense?

Anyway, I'm sure that this is possible but I'm having some trouble getting my head around the sort function I need to produce, I'd be very grateful if you could offer any help.

Posted by admin (Graham Ellis), 14 April 2005
Yes, think it makes sense.    Is this similar:

@stuff = (
       {"submitted",1010001,"person","Graham"} );

@newstuff = sort bywhen @stuff;
foreach $pers (@newstuff) {
       print $$pers{person}." at ".$$pers{submitted}."\n";

sub bywhen {
       $$a{submitted} <=> $$b{submitted};

runs to give

earth-wind-and-fire:~/apr05 grahamellis$ perl phsort
Graham at 1010001
George at 1010101
Fred at 1010201
Mildred at 1020101
Ginger at 1020102
Tom at 1020201
earth-wind-and-fire:~/apr05 grahamellis$

The "bywhen" sort subroutine takes inputs $a and $b (they're set by perl within its sort routine which then calls back to it. The idea is that the named routine - bywhen in this example - returns a -ve, 0 or +ve value if $a comes before $b in the sort order required, has the same sort order, or comes after.

In the example above, $a and $b - the list elements to be sorted - are references to hashes, thus the $$ notation used.  Note that I could have rewritten $$a{submitted} as $a->{submitted} - an alternative syntax that means the same thing.

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