Java example to sort an array of primitives and objects which implement Comparable interface.

Quick Reference:

//Sort array of primitives
String[] tokens = {"A","C","B","E","D"};

Arrays.sort(tokens);								//Sorted array in natural order

Arrays.sort(tokens, Collections.reverseOrder());	//Sorted array in reverse order

//Sort array of objects
Employee[] employees = getEmployees();

Arrays.sort(employees);								//Sorted array of objects

1) Sort array of primitives

Use Arrays.sort() method to sort an array of primitives such as int, long or String values.

String[] tokens = {"A","C","B","E","D"};

System.out.println(Arrays.toString(tokens));	//[A, C, B, E, D]


//Verify sorted array elements
System.out.println(Arrays.toString(tokens));	//[A, B, C, D, E]

1.1) Sort array in reverse order

Use Arrays.sort(arr,Collections.reverseOrder()) to sort an array in reverse oder.

String[] tokens = {"A","C","B","E","D"};

System.out.println(Arrays.toString(tokens));	//[A, C, B, E, D]

Arrays.sort(tokens, Collections.reverseOrder());	

//Verify reverse sorted array elements
System.out.println(Arrays.toString(tokens));	//[E, D, C, B, A]

2) Sort array of objects

Use Arrays.sort() method to sort an array of objects. The objects must implement the Comparable interface which will decide their sorting order.

  1. All elements in the array must implement the Comparable interface.
  2. All elements in the array must be mutually comparable and must not throw a ClassCastException while comparing.
  3. Equal elements (based on comparing logic) will not be reordered as a result of the sort; and will appear as their order in array.
  4. Uses stable, adaptive, iterative merge sort which gives better performance.

In given example, we are sorting an array of Employee objects which is in some random order. We will sort the array based on employee 'id' field.

import java.util.Arrays;
import java.util.Random;

public class Main 
	public static void main(String[] args) 
		Employee[] employees = getEmployees();
		System.out.println(Arrays.toString(employees));	//Unsorted array
		System.out.println(Arrays.toString(employees));	//Sorted array

	//Some method which return array of employees in random order
	private static Employee[] getEmployees() 
		Random rand = new Random(10);
		Employee[] arr = new Employee[5];
		for(int i = 0; i < 5; i++) {
			Employee e = new Employee();
			arr[i] = e;
		return arr;

Watch the console.

[Employee [id=13], Employee [id=80], Employee [id=93], Employee [id=90], Employee [id=46]]	//Unsorted
[Employee [id=13], Employee [id=46], Employee [id=80], Employee [id=90], Employee [id=93]]	//Sorted by employee id

Employee class must implement Comparable interface which, by default, sort into ascending order.

public class Employee {

	String id;
	String firstName;
	String lastName;

	public String getId() {
		return id;

	public void setId(String id) { = id;

	public String getFirstName() {
		return firstName;

	public void setFirstName(String firstName) {
		this.firstName = firstName;

	public String getLastName() {
		return lastName;

	public void setLastName(String lastName) {
		this.lastName = lastName;

	public String toString() {
		return "Employee [id=" + id + ", firstName=" + firstName + ", lastName=" + lastName + "]";

Happy Learning !!


Comparable Java Doc
Arrays.sort() Java Doc
Java Merge Sort