Nil relationship value for section name key path in nsfetchedresultscontroller

For a core data model where EntityA has a many-to-one relationship with EntityB, I want to create a list of EntityA objects, sorted by the name of the EntityB they are related to. Normally to do this I would set up the fetch request like this:

if (_fetchedResultsController != nil) {
    return _fetchedResultsController;

NSFetchRequest *fetchRequest = [[NSFetchRequest alloc] init];

Then I would set up my request's values: (in this case it's a list of plants sorted by species name. some plants have no species set.)

NSEntityDescription *entity = [NSEntityDescription entityForName:@"Plant" inManagedObjectContext:self.managedObjectContext];
NSSortDescriptor *sortDescriptorOne = [[NSSortDescriptor alloc] initWithKey:@"" ascending:YES];
NSString *sectionKeyPath = @"";

Then I finish it up with the usual stuff:

[fetchRequest setEntity:entity];

// Set the batch size to a suitable number.
[fetchRequest setFetchBatchSize:20];

NSArray *sortDescriptors = @[sortDescriptorOne];
[fetchRequest setSortDescriptors:sortDescriptors];

NSFetchedResultsController *aFetchedResultsController = [[NSFetchedResultsController alloc] initWithFetchRequest:fetchRequest

aFetchedResultsController.delegate = self;
self.fetchedResultsController = aFetchedResultsController;

[NSFetchedResultsController deleteCacheWithName:@"plantsCache"];
NSError *error = nil;
if (![self.fetchedResultsController performFetch:&error]) {
    NSLog(@"Unresolved error %@, %@", error, [error userInfo]);

return _fetchedResultsController;

But the result I get isn't working for me because the relationship is optional. So some of EntityA have a relationship to EntityB's and some don't. The results controller doesn't seem to know what to do when the value of EntityA's relationship is nil.

Any suggestions what I can do to continue making sections using the relationship's value but allowing some objects to have nil for it?


Set up a transient property in Plant like this:

-(NSString*)speciesName {
    return self.species ? : @"";

You can now use speciesName as the sectionNameKeyPath.

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