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  • Overview
  • Methods For Sorting
  • Sorting Direction
  • Ascending
  • Descending
  • Handling Ties
  • Combining Sort Criteria
  • Text Search

In this guide, you can learn how to use the sort operation to order your results from read operations with the MongoDB Java driver.

The sort operation orders the documents returned from your query by your specified sort criteria. Sort criteria are the rules you pass to MongoDB that describe how you would like your data to be ordered. Some examples of sort criteria are:

  • Smallest number to largest number
  • Earliest time of day to latest time of day
  • Alphabetical order by first name

You should read this guide if you would like to:

  • Perform ascending sorts and descending sorts.
  • Combine sort criteria.
  • Sort on the text score of a text search.

The examples in this guide use a sample collection that contains the following documents:

{"_id": 1, "letter": "c", "food": "coffee with milk"}
{"_id": 3, "letter": "a", "food": "maple syrup"}
{"_id": 4, "letter": "b", "food": "coffee with sugar"}
{"_id": 5, "letter": "a", "food": "milk and cookies"}
{"_id": 2, "letter": "a", "food": "donuts and coffee"}
{"_id": 6, "letter": "c", "food": "maple donut"}

You can sort results retrieved by a query and you can sort results within an aggregation pipeline. To sort your query results, use the sort() method of a FindIterable instance. To sort your results within an aggregation pipeline, use the Aggregates.sort() static factory method. Both of these methods receive objects that implement the Bson interface as arguments. For more information, see our API Documentation for the BSON interface.

You can use the sort() method of a FindIterable instance as follows:

import static com.mongodb.client.model.Sorts.ascending;
// <MongoCollection setup code here>
collection.find().sort(ascending("_id"));

You can use the Aggregates.sort() method within an aggregation pipeline as follows:

import com.mongodb.client.model.Aggregates;
import static com.mongodb.client.model.Sorts.ascending;
// <MongoCollection setup code here>
collection.aggregate(Arrays.asList(Aggregates.sort(ascending("_id"))));

The preceding code snippets sort the documents in the sample collection from smallest to largest value of the _id field:

{"_id": 1, "letter": "c", "food": "coffee with milk"}
{"_id": 2, "letter": "a", "food": "donuts and coffee"}
{"_id": 3, "letter": "a", "food": "maple syrup"}
...

In the preceding code snippets, we specify our sort criteria using the Sorts builder class. While it is possible to specify sort criteria using any class that implements the Bson interface, we recommend that you specify sort criteria through the Sorts builder. For more information on the Sorts builder class, see our guide on the Sorts builder.

For more information about the classes and interfaces in this section, see the following API Documentation:

The direction of your sort can either be ascending or descending. An ascending sort orders your results from smallest to largest. A descending sort orders your results from largest to smallest.

Here are some examples of data sorted in ascending order:

  • Numbers: 1, 2, 3, 43, 43, 55, 120
  • Dates: 1990-03-10, 1995-01-01, 2005-10-30, 2005-12-21
  • Words (ASCII): Banana, Dill, carrot, cucumber, hummus

Here are some examples of data sorted in descending order:

  • Numbers: 100, 30, 12, 12, 9, 3, 1
  • Dates: 2020-01-01, 1998-12-11, 1998-12-10, 1975-07-22
  • Words (reverse ASCII): pear, grapes, apple, Cheese

The following subsections show how to specify these sort criteria.

To specify an ascending sort, use the Sorts.ascending() static factory method. Pass the Sorts.ascending() method the name of the field you need to sort in ascending order.

You can pass the sort() method the output of the Sorts.ascending() method to specify an ascending sort on a field as follows:

import static com.mongodb.client.model.Sorts.ascending;
// <MongoCollection setup code here>
collection.find().sort(ascending("<field name>"));

The preceding sort() method returns a FindIterable object that can iterate over the documents in your collection, sorted from smallest to largest on the specified field name.

In the following code example, we use the ascending() method to sort the sample collection by the _id field:

import static com.mongodb.client.model.Sorts.ascending;
// <MongoCollection setup code here>
List<Document> results = new ArrayList<>();
collection.find().sort(ascending("_id")).into(results);
for (Document result : results) {
System.out.println(result.toJson());
}

The output of the preceding code example should look something like this:

{"_id": 1, "letter": "c", "food": "coffee with milk"}
{"_id": 2, "letter": "a", "food": "donuts and coffee"}
{"_id": 3, "letter": "a", "food": "maple syrup"}
...

To specify a descending sort, use the Sorts.descending() static factory method. Pass the Sorts.descending() method the name of the field you need to sort in descending order.

The following code snippet shows how to specify a descending sort on the _id field:

import static com.mongodb.client.model.Sorts.descending;
// <MongoCollection setup code here>
collection.find().sort(descending("_id"));

The preceding code snippet returns the documents in the sample collection in descending order:

{"_id": 6, "letter": "c", "food": "maple donut"}
{"_id": 5, "letter": "a", "food": "milk and cookies"}
{"_id": 4, "letter": "b", "food": "coffee with sugar"}
...

A tie occurs when two or more documents have identical values in the field you are using to order your results. MongoDB does not guarantee sort order in the event of ties. For example, suppose we encounter a tie when applying a sort to the sample collection using the following code:

import static com.mongodb.client.model.Sorts.ascending;
// <MongoCollection setup code here>
collection.find().sort(ascending("letter"));

Since multiple documents that matched our query contain the value "a" for the field on which we perform the sort, the following documents could be returned in any order:

{"_id": 3, "letter": "a", "food": "maple syrup"}
{"_id": 5, "letter": "a", "food": "milk and cookies"}
{"_id": 2, "letter": "a", "food": "donuts and coffee"}

If you need to guarantee a specific sort order for documents that have fields with identical values, you can specify additional fields to sort on in the event of a tie.

We can specify an ascending sort on the letter field followed by the _id field as follows:

import static com.mongodb.client.model.Sorts.ascending;
// <MongoCollection setup code here>
collection.find().sort(ascending("letter", "_id"));

The preceding code snippet returns the documents in the sample collection in the following order:

{"_id": 2, "letter": "a", "food": "donuts and coffee"}
{"_id": 3, "letter": "a", "food": "maple syrup"}
{"_id": 5, "letter": "a", "food": "milk and cookies"}
{"_id": 4, "letter": "b", "food": "coffee with sugar"}
{"_id": 1, "letter": "c", "food": "coffee with milk"}
{"_id": 6, "letter": "c", "food": "maple donut"}

To combine sort criteria, use the Sorts.orderBy() static factory method. This method constructs an object containing an ordered list of sort criteria. When performing the sort, if the leftmost sort criteria results in a tie, the sort uses the next sort criteria in the list to determine the order.

In the following code snippet, we use the orderBy() method to order our data by performing a descending sort on the letter field, and in the event of a tie, by performing an ascending sort on the _id field.

import static com.mongodb.client.model.Sorts.orderBy;
import static com.mongodb.client.model.Sorts.ascending;
import static com.mongodb.client.model.Sorts.descending;
// <MongoCollection setup code here>
Bson orderBySort = orderBy(descending("letter"), ascending("_id"));
collection.find().sort(orderBySort);

The preceding code snippet returns the documents in the sample collection in the following order:

{"_id": 1, "letter": "c", "food": "coffee with milk"}
{"_id": 6, "letter": "c", "food": "maple donut"}
{"_id": 4, "letter": "b", "food": "coffee with sugar"}
{"_id": 2, "letter": "a", "food": "donuts and coffee"}
{"_id": 3, "letter": "a", "food": "maple syrup"}
{"_id": 5, "letter": "a", "food": "milk and cookies"}

You can specify the order of the results of a text search by how closely the string values of each result's fields specified by the collection's text index match your search string. The text search assigns a numerical text score to indicate how closely each result matches the search string. Use the Sorts.metaTextScore() static factory method to build your sort criteria to sort by the text score.

Important
Make Sure to Create a Text Index

You need a text index on your collection to perform a text search. See the server manual documentation for more information on how to create a text index.

In the following code example, we show how you can use the Sorts.metaTextScore() method to sort the results of a text search on the sample collection. The code example uses the Filters, Indexes, and Projections builders. The code example performs the following actions:

  1. Creates a text index for your sample collection on the food field. If you call createIndex() specifying an index that already exists on the collection, the operation does not create a new index.
  2. Runs your text search for the phrase "maple donut".
  3. Projects text scores into your query results as the score field.
  4. Sorts your results by text score (best match first).
import com.mongodb.client.model.Sorts;
import com.mongodb.client.model.Projections;
import com.mongodb.client.model.Filters;
import com.mongodb.client.model.Indexes;
// <MongoCollection setup code here>
collection.createIndex(Indexes.text("food"));
Bson metaTextScoreSort = Sorts.metaTextScore("score");
Bson metaTextScoreProj = Projections.metaTextScore("score");
String searchTerm = "maple donut";
Bson searchQuery = Filters.text(searchTerm);
collection.find(searchQuery)
.projection(metaTextScoreProj)
.sort(metaTextScoreSort)
.into(results);
for (Document result : results) {
System.out.println(result.toJson());
}

The output of the preceding code example should look something like this:

{"_id": 6, "letter": "c", "food": "maple donut", "score": 1.5}
{"_id": 2, "letter": "a", "food": "donuts and coffee", "score": 0.75}
{"_id": 3, "letter": "a", "food": "maple syrup", "score": 0.75}
Note
Text Search Behavior in MongoDB 4.4 or Later

The structure of text search has changed for MongoDB 4.4 or later. You no longer need to project Projections.metaTextScore() into your FindIterable instance in order to sort on the text score. In addition, the field name you specify in a $meta text score aggregation operation used in a sort is ignored. This means that the field name argument you pass to Sorts.metaTextScore() is disregarded.

For more information about the classes in this section, see the following API Documentation:

For more information, see the Sorts class API Documentation. See the server manual documentation for more information on the $text query operator and the $meta aggregation pipeline operator.

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