Posts Tagged sorting IP addresses

Sorting IP addresses in Java

Recently I had to sort a list of IP addresses. Sounds simple, but it is a little bit tricky in detail. The problem is, you can’t even sort it by string. Let’s have a look at a little example. You will get something like that:

That’s completely  unusable for bigger lists of IPs!

To get the correct ordering you have to sort by bytes. Remember: all IP consists of an array of bytes. My solution is to write a Comparator for the InetAddress object, which compares each byte. A little tricky thing was to compare the bytes, because a byte is a signed value.

public class InetAddressComparator implements Comparator<InetAddress> {
    public int compare(InetAddress adr1, InetAddress adr2) {
        byte[] ba1 = adr1.getAddress();
        byte[] ba2 = adr2.getAddress();
        // general ordering: ipv4 before ipv6
        if(ba1.length < ba2.length) return -1;
        if(ba1.length > ba2.length) return 1;
        // we have 2 ips of the same type, so we have to compare each byte
        for(int i = 0; i < ba1.length; i++) {
            int b1 = unsignedByteToInt(ba1[i]);
            int b2 = unsignedByteToInt(ba2[i]);
            if(b1 == b2)
            if(b1 < b2)
                return -1;
                return 1;
        return 0;
    private int unsignedByteToInt(byte b) {
        return (int) b & 0xFF;