#099 Think Ahead

Dealing with numbers when working with an text sort.

Q: Why the the leading zeros?
A: I'm Thinking ahead.

When working with numbers with text, adding leading zeros to a number keeps the alpha sort in correct order. In many programs the text sort reads the number from left to right as text. For example, 1 - 10 would probably sort fine, depending on the program. But, add the text  'cups of coffee' after the number and it will usually sort like this:

  • 1 cup of coffee
  • 10 cups of coffee
  • 2 cups of coffee
  • 3 cups of coffee
  • 4 cups of coffee
  • 5 cups of coffee
  • 6 cups of coffee
  • 7 cups of coffee
  • 8 cups of coffee
  • 9 cups of coffee

Adding adding leading zeros forces the sort to be correct.

  • 01 cup of coffee
  • 02 cups of coffee
  • 03 cups of coffee
  • 04 cups of coffee
  • 05 cups of coffee
  • 06 cups of coffee
  • 07 cups of coffee
  • 08 cups of coffee
  • 09 cups of coffee
  • 10 cups of coffee

This technique works especially well when naming files on your computer.

When I thought about this blog series I knew I'd have over 10 things to say, so I added a leading zero to 1 - 9. But when I started jotting down ideas it occurred to me that if, by chance, I write more than 99 I would have to go edit 90 posts. Yikes! So 3 digits it is.

Oh dear, now I have that Clutch song stuck in my head...

10001110101 Periodic table with a center piece of mind

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