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Participant Sorting

The Participant Sorting API is a powerful tool built on top of the internal Comparator<T> API, providing developers with the ability to sort participants in various scenarios. This API offers common comparators and built-in presets that can be easily customized or used out-of-the-box, making participant sorting a seamless experience.

When dealing with real-time communication applications, it is often necessary to sort participants based on specific criteria. Whether you need to adjust the sorting in existing view layouts or define new sorting presets, the Participant Sorting API is here to simplify the process.

By utilizing the Comparator<T> API and the provided built-in comparators and presets, developers can effortlessly sort participants according to their requirements.

Comparator<T> API overview

The Comparator<T> API is the foundation upon which the Participant Sorting API is built. It defines a function type Comparator<T> that takes two arguments a and b of type T and returns -1, 0, or 1 based on the comparison between the two items. This API allows developers to create custom comparators tailored to their specific needs.

Ultimately, this API can be used in conjunction with the Array.sort method to sort any type of data.

import {
} from '@stream-io/video-react-sdk';

type Participant = {
id: number;
name: string;

// comparator that sorts by name in ascending order
const byName: Comparator<Participant> = (a, b) => {
if ( < return -1;
if ( > return 1;
return 0;

// comparator that sorts by id in ascending order
const byId: Comparator<Participant> = (a, b) => {
if ( < return -1;
if ( > return 1;
return 0;

// comparator that sorts by age in ascending order
const byAge: Comparator<Participant> = (a, b) => {
if (a.age < b.age) return -1;
if (a.age > b.age) return 1;
return 0;

// creates a new comparator that sorts by name in descending order
const byNameDescending: Comparator<Participant> = descending(byName);

// `conditional` creates a new comparator that applies the provided comparator only
// if the provided predicate returns `true`. The `predicate` itself, takes the two arguments
// and returns a boolean value.
const byAgeIfEnabled: Comparator<Participant> = conditional(
(a, b) => opts.isSortByAgeEnabled,

// combineComparator creates a new Comparator<T> that combines the provided comparators in one.
// this comparator will sort by name in descending order, by age if enabled,
// and then by id in ascending order
const sortingCriteria = combineComparators(

// participants array
const sorted = [p1, p2, p3].sort(sortingCriteria);

The Comparator<T> API is quite generic and can be used to sort any type of data. Works great in pair with browser's Array.sort API.

Built-in common comparators

The Participant Sorting API provides a set of common comparators that cover common sorting scenarios. These comparators are specifically designed for participant sorting and offer convenience when defining sorting criteria.

The built-in common comparators include:

  • dominantSpeaker: Sorts participants based on their dominance in the call.
  • speaking: Sorts participants based on whether they are currently speaking.
  • screenSharing: Sorts participants based on whether they are currently screen sharing.
  • publishingVideo: Sorts participants based on whether they are currently publishing video.
  • publishingAudio: Sorts participants based on whether they are currently publishing audio.
  • pinned: Sorts participants based on whether they are pinned in the user interface.
  • reactionType(type): Sorts participants based on the type of reaction they have.
  • role(...roles): Sorts participants based on their assigned role.
  • name: Sorts participants based on their names.

All of these comparators are available in the @stream-io/video-react-sdk package and can be imported as follows:

import {
} from '@stream-io/video-react-sdk';

// ...

These built-in comparators serve as a starting point for sorting participants and can be used individually or combined to create more complex sorting criteria.

Sorting customization on the call level

The Participant Sorting API allows dynamic sorting customization during runtime. Developers can utilize the call.setSortParticipantsBy(comparator) API to change the sorting criteria based on user interactions or application logic. This flexibility empowers developers to provide sorting controls within their application, giving users the ability to customize participant sorting according to their preferences.

Lets take a look at an example:

import {
} from '@stream-io/video-react-sdk';

// ... boilerplate code

// we take the existing call instance
const call = useCall();

// we create a new comparator that combines the built-in comparators
// and sorts participants by the following criteria:
const comparator = combineComparators(
pinned, // 1. pinned participants first
screenSharing, // 2. participants who are screensharing
dominantSpeaker, // 3. dominant speaker
reactionType('raised-hand'), // 4. participants with raised hand
speaking, // 5. participants currently speaking
publishingVideo, // 6. participants publishing video
publishingAudio, // 7. participants publishing audio
// 8. everyone else

// will apply the new sorting criteria immediately

In some scenarios, we might want to have special sorting criteria for a specific component in our app. For example, in the participant list component, we might want to sort participants by name.

For this purpose, we have extended the built-in useParticipants hook with a sortBy: Comparator<StreamVideoParticipant> option parameter.

import {
} from '@stream-io/video-react-sdk';

const { useParticipants } = useCallStateHooks();

// this will override the call's default sorting criteria
// and will return a list of participants sorted by name
const participants = useParticipants({ sortBy: name });

// you can also provide your custom comparator
const myComparator = combineComparators(/* ... */);
const participants = useParticipants({ sortBy: myComparator });

When using custom comparator in combination with the useParticipants hook, please make sure to provide a stable reference to the comparator. Otherwise, you might end up with unexpected behavior (unexpected re-renders, etc.).

Our proposal is to use stateless comparators defined outside of the component's scope. In case you need to use a stateful comparator, please make sure to memoize it using React.useMemo or React.useCallback hooks.

// stateless comparator
const myStatelessComparator = combineComparators(/* ... */);

export const MyComponent = () => {
const { useParticipants } = useCallStateHooks();

// component scope
const participants1 = useParticipants({ sortBy: myStatelessComparator });

// memoized comparator
const myStatefulComparator = React.useMemo(
() => combineComparators(/* ... */),
[dependency1, dependency2],
const participants2 = useParticipants({ sortBy: myStatefulComparator });

// ...

Built-in sorting presets

To further simplify participant sorting, the Participant Sorting API offers built-in presets. These presets are pre-configured sorting criteria linked to specific call types, reducing the effort required to define sorting rules.

The following presets are available:

  • defaultSortPreset: The default sorting preset applicable to general call scenarios.
  • speakerLayoutSortPreset: A preset specifically designed for the 'default' call type, optimizing participant sorting for speaker layout view.
  • livestreamOrAudioRoomSortPreset: A preset tailored for the 'livestream' and 'audio_room' call types, ensuring optimal participant sorting in livestream or audio room scenarios.

These presets are directly applied to the call's sorting mechanism. For custom call types, unless specified otherwise, our SDK would use the defaultSortPreset preset.

All of these presets are available in the @stream-io/video-react-sdk package and can be imported as follows:

import {
} from '@stream-io/video-react-sdk';

For your custom call types, you can define your participant sorting presets and register them generally in the SDK.

Check the next section to learn how.

Sorting customization on the call type

Sometimes, you want to keep your UI components free from sorting logic and instead, define sorting criteria per call type. To do so, you can register your sorting presets for your custom call types or override the existing ones by using our SDK's CallTypes registry.

import { combineComparators, CallTypes, CallType } from '@stream-io/video-react-sdk';

// setup your custom sorting preset
const myCustomSortPreset = combineComparators(/* ... */);

// update existing type
CallTypes.get('default').options.sortParticipantsBy = myCustomSortPreset;

// register new type
CallTypes.register(new CallType('my-custom-type', {
options: {
sortParticipantsBy: myCustomSortPreset,

Disabling participant sorting

In some cases, you may want to disable participant sorting altogether. This can be achieved by setting our special noopComparator as the sorting criteria of the Call or the CallType.

import { noopComparator, useCall } from '@stream-io/video-react-sdk';

const call = useCall();

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