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
SYS-CON Events announced today that Yuasa System will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion 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. Yuasa System is introducing a multi-purpose endurance testing system for flexible displays, OLED devices, flexible substrates, flat cables, and films in smartphones, wearables, automobiles, and healthcare.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Dasher Technologies 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. Dasher Technologies, Inc. ® is a premier IT solution provider that delivers expert technical resources along with trusted account executives to architect and deliver complete IT solutions and services to help our clients execute their goals, plans and objectives. Since 1999, we'v...
Enterprises have taken advantage of IoT to achieve important revenue and cost advantages. What is less apparent is how incumbent enterprises operating at scale have, following success with IoT, built analytic, operations management and software development capabilities – ranging from autonomous vehicles to manageable robotics installations. They have embraced these capabilities as if they were Silicon Valley startups. As a result, many firms employ new business models that place enormous impor...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Massive Networks, that helps your business operate seamlessly with fast, reliable, and secure internet and network solutions, has been named "Exhibitor" of 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. As a premier telecommunications provider, Massive Networks is headquartered out of Louisville, Colorado. With years of experience under their belt, their team of...
SYS-CON Events announced today that TidalScale, a leading provider of systems and services, 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. TidalScale has been involved in shaping the computing landscape. They've designed, developed and deployed some of the most important and successful systems and services in the history of the computing industry - internet, Ethernet, operating s...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Taica will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion 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. Taica manufacturers Alpha-GEL brand silicone components and materials, which maintain outstanding performance over a wide temperature range -40C to +200C. For more information, visit http://www.taica.co.jp/english/.
SYS-CON Events announced today that MIRAI Inc. will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion 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. MIRAI Inc. are IT consultants from the public sector whose mission is to solve social issues by technology and innovation and to create a meaningful future for people.
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM has been named “Diamond Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st Cloud Expo, which will take place on October 31 through November 2nd 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, California.
SYS-CON Events announced today that TidalScale 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. TidalScale is the leading provider of Software-Defined Servers that bring flexibility to modern data centers by right-sizing servers on the fly to fit any data set or workload. TidalScale’s award-winning inverse hypervisor technology combines multiple commodity servers (including their ass...
Join IBM November 1 at 21st Cloud Expo at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, and learn how IBM Watson can bring cognitive services and AI to intelligent, unmanned systems. Cognitive analysis impacts today’s systems with unparalleled ability that were previously available only to manned, back-end operations. Thanks to cloud processing, IBM Watson can bring cognitive services and AI to intelligent, unmanned systems. Imagine a robot vacuum that becomes your personal assistant tha...
Widespread fragmentation is stalling the growth of the IIoT and making it difficult for partners to work together. The number of software platforms, apps, hardware and connectivity standards is creating paralysis among businesses that are afraid of being locked into a solution. EdgeX Foundry is unifying the community around a common IoT edge framework and an ecosystem of interoperable components.
As popularity of the smart home is growing and continues to go mainstream, technological factors play a greater role. The IoT protocol houses the interoperability battery consumption, security, and configuration of a smart home device, and it can be difficult for companies to choose the right kind for their product. For both DIY and professionally installed smart homes, developers need to consider each of these elements for their product to be successful in the market and current smart homes.
Infoblox delivers Actionable Network Intelligence to enterprise, government, and service provider customers around the world. They are the industry leader in DNS, DHCP, and IP address management, the category known as DDI. We empower thousands of organizations to control and secure their networks from the core-enabling them to increase efficiency and visibility, improve customer service, and meet compliance requirements.
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend 21st Cloud Expo October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, CA, and June 12-14, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.
SYS-CON Events announced today that mruby Forum will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion 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. mruby is the lightweight implementation of the Ruby language. We introduce mruby and the mruby IoT framework that enhances development productivity. For more information, visit http://forum.mruby.org/.
Digital transformation is changing the face of business. The IDC predicts that enterprises will commit to a massive new scale of digital transformation, to stake out leadership positions in the "digital transformation economy." Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, Oct 31-Nov 2, will find fresh new content in a new track called Enterprise Cloud & Digital Transformation.
Most technology leaders, contemporary and from the hardware era, are reshaping their businesses to do software. They hope to capture value from emerging technologies such as IoT, SDN, and AI. Ultimately, irrespective of the vertical, it is about deriving value from independent software applications participating in an ecosystem as one comprehensive solution. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Kausik Sridhar, founder and CTO of Pulzze Systems, will discuss how given the magnitude of today's applicati...
Smart cities have the potential to change our lives at so many levels for citizens: less pollution, reduced parking obstacles, better health, education and more energy savings. Real-time data streaming and the Internet of Things (IoT) possess the power to turn this vision into a reality. However, most organizations today are building their data infrastructure to focus solely on addressing immediate business needs vs. a platform capable of quickly adapting emerging technologies to address future ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that NetApp has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of 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. NetApp is the data authority for hybrid cloud. NetApp provides a full range of hybrid cloud data services that simplify management of applications and data across cloud and on-premises environments to accelerate digital transformation. Together with their partners, NetApp emp...
In a recent survey, Sumo Logic surveyed 1,500 customers who employ cloud services such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP). According to the survey, a quarter of the respondents have already deployed Docker containers and nearly as many (23 percent) are employing the AWS Lambda serverless computing framework. It’s clear: serverless is here to stay. The adoption does come with some needed changes, within both application development and operations. Tha...