Welcome!

You will be redirected in 30 seconds or close now.

ColdFusion Authors: Yakov Fain, Jeremy Geelan, Maureen O'Gara, Nancy Y. Nee, Tad Anderson

Related Topics: ColdFusion

ColdFusion: Article

Building a Zip Code Proximity Search with ColdFusion

The new challenges and possibilities are numerous

Recently I was tasked with improving our Web site's Reseller Locator application. This tool helps potential customers in the U.S. find a product reseller in their state. By choosing a state from a drop-down box, a listing of all resellers located in that state is displayed.

Over the years, as more and more resellers have signed on to sell our products, some problems with this application have surfaced:

  • Some states, such as California, display a very long list of resellers, and customers may never contact those listed near the bottom.
  • The states with smaller populations such as North Dakota may not have any resellers to list.
  • Competitors could use the tool to easily find all our resellers, and may steal these valuable partner relationships.
The Solution Is Defined
We needed a solution to solve these problems, and searching by zip codes appeared to be the answer. The new tool would ask the customer to enter their five digit zip code in a text box and select a search radius of 25, 50, or 100 miles. We wanted to limit the search to 100 miles, to keep the results to an appropriate number and prevent our competitors from entering 2,000 miles and getting a huge list all at once. For example, I might search for all resellers within 50 miles of 55113. This time a list of resellers in close proximity to St. Paul, MN, is displayed, ignoring those 200 miles north in the city of Duluth. Implementing this approach addressed each problem, respectively:
  • A shorter list would result from the search, containing only the resellers located near the customer's zip code.
  • The list can cross state boundaries, now that it will find all resellers located within the specified radius to the customer, and hopefully would show results for zip codes in states like North Dakota.
  • Competitors can still use the tool to find our resellers, but they'll have to work much harder to get the information with the 100 mile limit.
The "Webmonkey" Demo
I've used many store locator Web applications, such as finding the nearest Quiznos or Best Buy, and always wondered how they worked. Now I had the opportunity to learn something brand new, and I began my quest for how to accomplish the Reseller Locator zip code search by starting where everybody does: Google! I quickly found a great tutorial article with sample ColdFusion code on webmonkey.com. The article was written by Robert Capili and titled Proximity Searches for Fun and Profit. The stars were aligned that day, since Robert published his article three weeks before I started my project. It was perfect timing, because as I started reading, it became apparent that this was exactly what I needed to get my feet wet. In the article Robert discusses four primary ways to calculate zip code proximities:
  1. Pythagorean Theorem (remember this trig equation? a2 + b2 = c2)
  2. Spherical Law of Cosines (Pythagorean theorem for triangles drawn on a sphere)
  3. Haversine Formula (most accurate way to calculate distance on a sphere)
  4. Square Search (Robert's speedy solution)
For each method, he explains some background information, how it calculates results, how it performs (speed versus accuracy), and his usage suggestions. I encourage you to read it when you finish this article (or now if you feel the need) to dive deeper into this topic: www.webmonkey.com/webmonkey/05/32/index4a.html?tw=programming. In a nutshell, Robert recommends method #4. He improved upon the speed produced by the Pythagorean method and developed the Square Search. It performs the fastest, but does not take into account the spherical shape of the earth, which the Haversine formula is best at. However, as long as you are not in need of absolute pinpoint accuracy, the Square Search is the way to go for most applications.

Testing the Sample Code
Included in the sample code is a ColdFusion Component, zipfinder.cfc, that implements each of the four search methods. It also contains a testing template, zip.cfm, that has a basic search form, containing a zip code text box and radius text box. Finally, it contains a database file, zipDB. My first step to getting set up was a quick visit to our company's DB Admin, who helped me perform a restore of the SQL database file, zipDB. The database restore creates a single table that contains 29,470 zip code records. Next, I opened Application.cfm and modified the variable application.dsn to use the correct value for our datasource name. Now on to some real testing. I pointed my browser to the zip.cfm template and saw the search form. After entering a zip code and radius in the text boxes, what you get are four cfdumps of the recordsets returned from the CFC, as well as the execution times. Each query gets the city, state, zip code, and distance from the specified zip code. Table 1 and Table 2 show the partial output from a search of 55113.

I soon realized why he recommended the Square Search. The execution time was faster than each of the other methods, and the distance results were very close to the Haversine Formula. After a few more tests, it was soon time to put the final pieces together.

Integrating the Solution
Now I needed to take the recordset returned by the Square Search method and put it to use in my application. We have a database table (actually a view) of resellers that includes the field: zipcode. Nothing special here; most of us are familiar with SQL tables that contain address information broken out in separate fields. All I needed to do was create a new query against the reseller table, and make sure a reseller's zip code was found among the zip codes in the recordset returned by the CFC. The code and query looked like this:

<cfinvoke component="zipfinder" method="squareSearch" radius="#URL.miles#"
zip="#URL.zip#" returnvariable="results"></cfinvoke>

<cfif NOT results.recordcount>
   Sorry, no zip codes found within #URL.miles# miles of #URL.zip#.
   <cfabort>
</cfif>

<cfquery name="get_resellers" datasource="#dsn#">
select *
from PartnerView
where zipcode IN (#ListQualify(ValueList(results.zip),"'")#)
and Country = 'USA'
order by CompanyName
</cfquery>

The first block of code invokes the CFC, calling the SquareSearch method. Next, I verify at least one record is returned. If not, I stop right there and let the user know with a friendly error message. Last, I perform a search against our resellers, using the clause:

where zipcode IN (#ListQualify(ValueList(results.zip),"'")#)

Based on the sample records I listed earlier, the actual query might look like:

select *
from PartnerView
where zipcode IN ('55113','55108','55117','55103','55114','55104','55414','55101','55418')
and Country = 'USA'
order by CompanyName

The ListQualify() and ValueList() ColdFusion functions come in handy here. ValueList() converts a query column into a comma-delimited list, then ListQualify() slaps a single quote around each item in the list. This is exactly what is needed to use as the expression on the right-hand side of the IN clause. All that's left is to display the results from the get_resellers query in a nice HTML format, and the customer has the information he or she needs to make a couple of phone calls that will hopefully lead to a future sale!

More Stories By Troy Pullis

Troy Pullis works as a senior Web developer for Secure Computing Corporation (www.securecomputing.com) and also manages the Twin Cities ColdFusion Users Group (www.colderfusion.com). He is a Certified Advanced CFMX Developer. Back in 1999, Troy shifted his client/server Java programming career to focus on the Internet boom. He immediately started using ColdFusion, began attending CFUG meetings, and has never looked back.

Comments (3) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Most Recent Comments
CFDJ News Desk 12/15/05 06:33:24 PM EST

Building a Zip Code Proximity Search with ColdFusion. Recently I was tasked with improving our Web site's Reseller Locator application. This tool helps potential customers in the U.S. find a product reseller in their state. By choosing a state from a drop-down box, a listing of all resellers located in that state is displayed.

CFDJ News Desk 12/15/05 06:03:25 PM EST

Building a Zip Code Proximity Search with ColdFusion. Recently I was tasked with improving our Web site's Reseller Locator application. This tool helps potential customers in the U.S. find a product reseller in their state. By choosing a state from a drop-down box, a listing of all resellers located in that state is displayed.

@ThingsExpo Stories
Grape Up is a software company, specialized in cloud native application development and professional services related to Cloud Foundry PaaS. With five expert teams that operate in various sectors of the market across the USA and Europe, we work with a variety of customers from emerging startups to Fortune 1000 companies.
The age of Digital Disruption is evolving into the next era – Digital Cohesion, an age in which applications securely self-assemble and deliver predictive services that continuously adapt to user behavior. Information from devices, sensors and applications around us will drive services seamlessly across mobile and fixed devices/infrastructure. This evolution is happening now in software defined services and secure networking. Four key drivers – Performance, Economics, Interoperability and Trust ...
Financial Technology has become a topic of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities. Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming 20th Cloud Expo at the Javits Center in New York, June 6-8, 2017, will find fresh new content in a new track called FinTech.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute, owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Interoute is the owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform which encompasses 12 data centers, 14 virtual data centers and 31 colocation centers, with connections to 195 add...
DevOps is often described as a combination of technology and culture. Without both, DevOps isn't complete. However, applying the culture to outdated technology is a recipe for disaster; as response times grow and connections between teams are delayed by technology, the culture will die. A Nutanix Enterprise Cloud has many benefits that provide the needed base for a true DevOps paradigm.
Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more business becomes digital the more stakeholders are interested in this data including how it relates to business. Some of these people have never used a monitoring tool before. They have a question on their mind like “How is my application doing” but no id...
Bert Loomis was a visionary. This general session will highlight how Bert Loomis and people like him inspire us to build great things with small inventions. In their general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Harold Hannon, Architect at IBM Bluemix, and Michael O'Neill, Strategic Business Development at Nvidia, discussed the accelerating pace of AI development and how IBM Cloud and NVIDIA are partnering to bring AI capabilities to "every day," on-demand. They also reviewed two "free infrastructure" pr...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Juniper Networks (NYSE: JNPR), an industry leader in automated, scalable and secure networks, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Juniper Networks challenges the status quo with products, solutions and services that transform the economics of networking. The company co-innovates with customers and partners to deliver automated, scalable and secure network...
The age of Digital Disruption is evolving into the next era – Digital Cohesion, an age in which applications securely self-assemble and deliver predictive services that continuously adapt to user behavior. Information from devices, sensors and applications around us will drive services seamlessly across mobile and fixed devices/infrastructure. This evolution is happening now in software defined services and secure networking. Four key drivers – Performance, Economics, Interoperability and Trust ...
In his keynote at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, Director of IoT Engineering at Citrix and co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, focused on building an IoT platform and company. He provided a behind-the-scenes look at Octoblu’s platform, business, and pivots along the way (including the Citrix acquisition of Octoblu).
SYS-CON Events announced today that Hitachi Data Systems, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi LTD., will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City. Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) will be featuring the Hitachi Content Platform (HCP) portfolio. This is the industry’s only offering that allows organizations to bring together object storage, file sync and share, cloud storage gateways, and sophisticated search an...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, is co-located with 20th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry p...
@GonzalezCarmen has been ranked the Number One Influencer and @ThingsExpo has been named the Number One Brand in the “M2M 2016: Top 100 Influencers and Brands” by Analytic. Onalytica analyzed tweets over the last 6 months mentioning the keywords M2M OR “Machine to Machine.” They then identified the top 100 most influential brands and individuals leading the discussion on Twitter.
The Internet of Things is clearly many things: data collection and analytics, wearables, Smart Grids and Smart Cities, the Industrial Internet, and more. Cool platforms like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Intel's Galileo and Edison, and a diverse world of sensors are making the IoT a great toy box for developers in all these areas. In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists discussed what things are the most important, which will have the most profound e...
@ThingsExpo has been named the Most Influential ‘Smart Cities - IIoT' Account and @BigDataExpo has been named fourteenth by Right Relevance (RR), which provides curated information and intelligence on approximately 50,000 topics. In addition, Right Relevance provides an Insights offering that combines the above Topics and Influencers information with real time conversations to provide actionable intelligence with visualizations to enable decision making. The Insights service is applicable to eve...
Multiple data types are pouring into IoT deployments. Data is coming in small packages as well as enormous files and data streams of many sizes. Widespread use of mobile devices adds to the total. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists will look at the tools and environments that are being put to use in IoT deployments, as well as the team skills a modern enterprise IT shop needs to keep things running, get a handle on all this data, and deli...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Grape Up will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct. 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Grape Up is a software company specializing in cloud native application development and professional services related to Cloud Foundry PaaS. With five expert teams that operate in various sectors of the market across the U.S. and Europe, Grape Up works with a variety of customers from emergi...
SYS-CON Events announced today that T-Mobile will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. As America's Un-carrier, T-Mobile US, Inc., is redefining the way consumers and businesses buy wireless services through leading product and service innovation. The Company's advanced nationwide 4G LTE network delivers outstanding wireless experiences to 67.4 million customers who are unwilling to compromise on ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CollabNet, a global leader in enterprise software development, release automation and DevOps solutions, will be a Bronze Sponsor of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, taking place from June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CollabNet offers a broad range of solutions with the mission of helping modern organizations deliver quality software at speed. The company’s latest innovation, the DevOps Lifecycle Manager (DLM), supports Value S...
With billions of sensors deployed worldwide, the amount of machine-generated data will soon exceed what our networks can handle. But consumers and businesses will expect seamless experiences and real-time responsiveness. What does this mean for IoT devices and the infrastructure that supports them? More of the data will need to be handled at - or closer to - the devices themselves.