README for Sort::ArbBiLex
                                        Time-stamp: "2004-03-27 17:19:01 AST"

	      (arbitrary bi-level lexicographic sorting)

[Partially excerpted from the POD.]

Sort::ArbBiLex -- make sort functions for arbitrary sort orders

    Sort::ArbBiLex -- make sort functions for arbitrary sort orders

      use Sort::ArbBiLex;

      *fulani_sort = Sort::ArbBiLex::maker(  # defines &fulani_sort
        "a A
         c C
         ch Ch CH
         ch' Ch' CH'
         e E
         l L
         lh Lh LH
         n N
         r R
         s S
         u U
         z Z
      @words = <>;
      @stuff = fulani_sort(@words);
      foreach (@stuff) { print "<$_>\n" }

    Writing systems for different languages usually have specific sort
    orders for the glyphs (characters, or clusters of characters) that each
    writing system uses. For well-known national languages, these different
    sort orders (or someone's idea of them) are formalized in the locale for
    each such language, on operating system flavors that support locales.
    However, there are problems with locales; cf. the perllocale manpage.
    Chief among the problems relevant here are:

    * The basic concept of "locale" conflates language/dialect, writing
    system, and character set -- and country/region, to a certain extent.
    This may be inappropriate for the text you want to sort. Notably, this
    assumes standardization where none may exist (what's THE sort order for
    a language that has five different Roman-letter-based writing systems in

    * On many OS flavors, there is no locale support.

    * Even on many OS flavors that do suport locales, the user cannot create
    his own locales as needed.

    * The "scope" of a locale may not be what the user wants -- if you want,
    in a single program, to sort the array @foo by one locale, and an array
    @bar by another locale, this may prove difficult or impossible.

    In other words, locales (even if available) may not sort the way you
    want, and are not portable in any case.

    This module is meant to provide an alternative to locale-based sorting.

    This module makes functions for you that implement bi-level
    lexicographic sorting according to a sort order you specify.
    "Lexicographic sorting" means comparing the letters (or properly,
    "glyphs") in strings, starting from the start of the string (so that
    "apple" comes after "apoplexy", say) -- as opposed to, say, sorting by
    numeric value. "Lexicographic sorting" is sometimes used to mean just
    "ASCIIbetical sorting", but I use it to mean the sort order used by
    *lexicograph*ers, in dictionaries (at least for alphabetic languages).

    Consider the words "resume" and "résumé" (the latter should display on
    your POD viewer with acute accents on the e's). If you declare a sort
    order such that e-acute ("é") is a letter after e (no accent), then
    "résumé" (with accents) would sort after every word starting with "re"
    (no accent) -- so "résumé" (with accents) would come after "reward".

    If, however, you treated e (no accent) and e-acute as the same letter,
    the ordering of "resume" and "résumé" (with accents) would be
    unpredictable, since they would count as the same thing -- whereas
    "resume" should always come before "résumé" (with accents) in English

    What bi-level lexicographic sorting means is that you can stipulate that
    two letters like e (no accent) and e-acute ("é") generally count as the
    same letter (so that they both sort before "reward"), but that when
    there's a tie based on comparison that way (like the tie between
    "resume" and "résumé" (with accents)), the tie is broken by a
    stipulation that at a second level, e (no accent) does come before e-
    acute ("é").

    (Some systems of sort order description allow for any number of levels
    in sort orders -- but I can't imagine a case where this gets you
    anything over a two-level sort.)

    Moreover, the units of sorting for a writing system may not be
    characters exactly. In some forms of Spanish, ch, while two characters,
    counts as one glyph -- a "letter" after c (at the first level, not just
    the second, like the e in the paragraph above). So "cuerno" comes
    *before* "chile". A character-based sort would not be able to see that
    "ch" should count as anything but "c" and "h". So this library doesn't
    assume that the units of comparison are individual characters.

[end POD excerpt]


This suite requires Perl 5; I've only used it under Perl 5.004, so for
anything lower, you're on your own.

Sort::ArbBiLex doesn't use any nonstandard modules.


You install Sort::ArbBiLex, as you would install any perl module
library, by running these commands:

   perl Makefile.PL
   make test
   make install

If you want to install a private copy of Sort::ArbBiLex in your home
directory, then you should try to produce the initial Makefile with
something like this command:

  perl Makefile.PL LIB=~/perl

Then you may need something like
  setenv PERLLIB "$HOME/perl"
in your shell initialization file (e.g., ~/.cshrc).

For further information, see perldoc perlmodinstall


POD-format documentation is included in  POD is readable
with the 'perldoc' utility.  See ChangeLog for recent changes.


Don't bother with the makefiles.  Just make a Sort directory in your
MacPerl site_lib or lib directory, and move into there.


Questions, bug reports, useful code bits, and suggestions for
Sort::ArbBiLex should just be sent to me at


The latest version of Sort::ArbBiLex is available from the
Comprehensive Perl Archive Network (CPAN).  Visit
<> to find a CPAN site near you.


Copyright 1999-2004, Sean M. Burke <>, all rights
reserved.  This program is free software; you can redistribute it
and/or modify it under the same terms as Perl itself.

This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but
without any warranty; without even the implied warranty of
merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.


Sean M. Burke <>