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No StringCompare in Mathematica?


I wanted to sort a list of XMLElements based on the text in the third
descendent of the element type used to form the list.  In order to set up
the comparison predicate, I had to(?) form a list of the two candidate
strings and compare it to the sorted version of itself.  The sort was
fairly slow in executing.  I would like to have simply done s1 < s2, but
Mathematica doesn't appear to support that.  Is there a way to get that
functionality more simply than what I described?
-- 
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