I use views to display a sorted list of book titles. Titles that begin with a quote are listed first. I want to ignore the quote for sorting purposes. So, instead of:

  • "Once Upon a Time": Fairy Tales in Reality
  • Grimm's Fairy Tales
  • The Best Book of Fairy Tales

I want:

  • Grimm's Fairy Tales
  • "Once Upon a Time": Fairy Tales in Reality
  • The Best Book of Fairy Tales

It appears the Views Natural Sort module will handle this, but it's still in Alpha for Drupal 8. Is there another, relatively straightforward (non-custom-code if possible) means of accomplishing this?

I've read a number of posts addressing more complex situations with fairly complex solutions, but it seems something this simple should have a simple solution.

  • 1
    Views Natural Sort seems to be that simple solution you're looking for. Where did you get stuck configuring it? If there were a simpler solution then wouldn't that module use it? – prkos Mar 20 at 22:19
  • Thanks @prkos. I shied away from it because it's still alpha. I read the documentation and it looked like it was somewhat complex. But I'll go ahead and give it a try and then report back here how it works for me. – Marshall Morrise Mar 20 at 23:03
  • @prkos By way of report, Views Natural Sort seems to work pretty well, except I haven't been able to get it to ignore curly quotes at the beginning of a title. I'll work on that some more and report again. – Marshall Morrise Mar 21 at 14:48

views_natural_sort is able to do this kind of sorting.

It might be currently in alpha state but it already has more than 250 installation for the alpha 3 release which means that most major bugs should have already been ironed out.

Upon enabling you are able to choose title to sort with and you are given 2 extra options for natural sorting (sort natually ascending and sort natually descending)

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It also has some handy settings at admin/structure/views/settings/views_natural_sort which you will allow you to chose what other characters you want to ignore (and other settings)

Following are the default settings

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  • Thanks for this suggestion, @GiorgosK. I set up Natural Sort and used the settings you mention. Even after that, I wasn't able to get quite what I needed because of the international characters in the titles I'm sorting. I'll post an answer to explain what I ended up doing.Maybe that will prompt you or someone to say, "Natural Sort could have done that as well" or to make another suggestion. – Marshall Morrise Mar 22 at 17:40

Thanks to all for the suggestions. After I got Natural Sort mostly working, I ran into problems using the sorted titles with Views grouping due to accented letters (no fault of Natural Sort). For example, I'd get a group with "A" as the group heading and another group with "Á" (accented A).

To solve this problem, I did the following:

  • Add a field named sort_title to the content type and hide it from users.
  • Add a node_presave() hook for the content type to a custom module.
  • Create a sortable_title function in the hook to
    • Replace accented letters and other international characters in the title with close English equivalents.
    • Force the entire title to uppercase.
    • Strip all non-alphanumeric characters from the front of the title.
    • Add a ~ character to titles that begin with a number (because I want them to sort after titles beginning with letters).
  • Save this sortable title in the sortable_title field for the node.
  • Use the sortable_title field for sorting and grouping in the view, instead of the regular title field, which I was using (and which is still the one that gets displayed).
  • I also subthemed the views-view-list.html.twig template to replace the ~ with # in the grouped heading (I had already subthemed the file for another reason anyway).

This approach isn't the most general, but it's giving me exactly the outcome I want, so I'm no longer using Natural Sort. It's only about 30 lines of code in the hook function (most of that being a table of international characters and their replacements) and of course, there's the hidden duplicate of the title field.

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