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Manual Reference Pages  -  GEO::POSTCODES::TUTORIAL (3)

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Geo::Postcodes::Tutorial - How to use the Geo::Postcodes::* modules



 use Geo::Postcodes::U2;

 my $postcode = 1104;
 my $location = Geo::Postcodes::U2::location_of($postcode);


This tutorial uses the fictious country Utopia (with country code ’U2’), and the rest of this document will refer to the non-existent module Geo::Postcodes::U2. Any differences with the two existing country modules (Geo::Postcodes::DK; Denmark and Geo::Postcodes::NO; Norway) are explained.


The latest version of Geo::Postcodes::U2 if had it existed, that is) can be installed or updated from CPAN with the following commands (, preferably as root. This will automatically install or update the core module Geo::Postcodes as well.

 shell> perl -MCPAN -e shell
 cpan> install Geo::Postcodes::U2

It may be possible to use the command cpan instead of the first line.


Include the following line in the program, after installing the module:

 use Geo::Postcodes::U2;



Use the legal procedure to check that the specified postcode is legal, i.e. that it follows the syntax rules for our utopian postcodes.

Utopian postcodes are four digit numbers, and the lowest number in use is ’1003’. This procedure is programmed to return true for any four digit number where the first digit is non-zero.

 $boolean = Geo::Postcodes::U2::legal(ABBA); # 0 -> Illegal
 $boolean = Geo::Postcodes::U2::legal(0900); # 0 -> Illegal
 $boolean = Geo::Postcodes::U2::legal(1900); # 1 -> Legal
 $boolean = Geo::Postcodes::U2::legal(1000); # 1 -> Legal


The procedure valid will check if the postcode is valid; that it is in actual use. The code may or may not be legal.

 $boolean = Geo::Postcodes::U2::valid(1000); # 0 -> Not in use
 $boolean = Geo::Postcodes::U2::valid(ABBA); # 0 -> Not in use


Utopian postcodes support all the 8 fields set up by the core module. Every field is available as $P->xxx or xxx_of($postcode), where xxx is the field name. The procedures/methods will return undef if the value is unspecified for the given postcode.

    postcode - postcode_of

 $postcode = $P->postcode();
 $postcode = Geo::Postcodes::U2::location_of($postcode); # Silly

The actual postcode value is available with postcode method, as the object itself does not have this information. The corresponding postcode_of-procedure is used internally by selection-procedure/method, but should be avoided in applications.

    location - location_of

 $location = $P->location();
 $location = Geo::Postcodes::U2::location_of($postcode);

The location (or postal location) of the postcode. This is the value shown after the postcode in addresses.

    borough - borough_of

 $borough = $P->borough();
 $borough = $Geo::Postcodes::U2::borough_of($postcode);

The borough where the postcode is located.

This field is not used by danish postcodes.

    county - county_of

 $county = $P->county();
 $county = $Geo::Postcodes::U2::county_of($postcode);

The county where the postcode is located.

This field is not used by danish postcodes.

    owner - owner_of

 $owner = $P->owner();
 $owner = $Geo::Postcodes::U2::owner_of($postcode);

The owner of the postcode. This value is only used if the postcode is used by a single user.

This field is not used by norwegian postcodes.

    address - address_of

 $address = $P->address();
 $address = $Geo::Postcodes::U2::address_of($postcode);

The street address of the postcode. This value is only used if the postcode is used by a single street, and the street does not use any other posrcode.

This field is not used by norwegian postcodes.

    type - type_of

 $type = $P->type();
 $type = $Geo::Postcodes::U2::type_of($postcode);

The type of the postcode, as a short (2-4 characters) code. The types supported by the core module are:
BX Post Office box
ST Street address
SX Service box (as a Post Office box, but the mail is delivered to the customer).
IO Individual owner (a company with its own postcode).
STBX Either a Street address (ST) or a Post Office box (BX)
MU Multiple usage (a mix of the other types)
PP Porto Paye receiver (mail where the reicever will pay the postage).
PN Place name
The child classes can use as many of the codes as they want. Utopian postcodes support them all.

    type_verbose - type_verbose_of

A textual description of the codes, as specified in the previous section, as the codes themselves are not very user friendly.

 $utopian_description = $P->type_verbose();
 $utopian_description = Geo::postcodes::U2::type_verbose_of($postcode);

This will give the description in utopian, if set up by the utopian module, and english otherwise.

The individual country classes are responsible for translating the descriptions of the codes they use to the native language, if appropriate.

 $english_description = Geo::postcodes::type_verbose_of($postcode);
 $english_description = $P->Geo::Postcodes::type_verbose();

Use the version in the base class for the english version.

The danish and norwegian modules have translations for the codes they use.


The modules can be used as procedures on postcodes, or object oriented.

    Example Using Procedures

  my $postcode = 1010;

  if (Geo::Postcodes::U2::valid($postcode))
    printf "Postcode"        %s.\n", $postcode;
    printf "Postal location: %s.\n", location_of($postcode);
    printf "Borough:         %s.\n", borough_of($postcode);
    printf "County:          %s.\n", county_of($postcode);
    printf "Owner:           %s.\n", owner_of($postcode);
    printf "Address:         %s.\n", address_of($postcode);
    printf "Postcode type:   %s.\n", type_of($postcode);
    printf "- in utopian:    %s.\n", type_of_verbose($postcode);
    printf "- in english:    %s.\n", Geo::Postcodes::type_of_verbose($postcode);

The fields are described in the prevoius section; UTOPIAN FIELDS.

    Object Oriented Example

  if (Geo::Postcodes::U2::valid($postcode))
    my $P = Geo::Postcodes::U2->new($postcode);
    printf "Postcode         %s.\n", $P->postcode();
    printf "Postal location: %s.\n", $P->location();
    printf "Borough:         %s.\n", $P->borough();
    printf "County:          %s.\n", $P->county();
    printf "Owner:           %s.\n", $P->owner();
    printf "Address:         %s.\n", $P->address();
    printf "Postcode type:   %s.\n", $P->type();
    printf "- in norwegian:  %s.\n", $P->type_verbose();
    printf "- in english:    %s.\n", $P->Geo::Postcodes::type_verbose();

If speed is a concern, use the procedure version.


 my $P = Geo::Postcodes::U2->new($postcode);

Create a new postcode object. Internally this will call the xxx_of procedures for the fields supported by utopian postcodes.

The constructor will return undef if given an invalid or illegal postcode. Do not try method calls on it, as it is not an object (and will result in a runtime error). See the description of the legal and valid procedures above.


The test for a valid postcode can also be done on the object itself, as it will be undef when passed an illegal or invalid postcode (and thus no object at all.)

The example in the prevous section had a line for each field, but it is possible to use a loop instead:

  if ($P = Geo::Postcodes::U2->new($postcode))
    foreach my $field (Geo::Postcodes::U2::get_fields())
      printf("%-20s %s\n", ucfirst($field), $P->$field())

This will <B>notB> show the english description of the type, and the printed labels are slightly different than in the previous example.


Use this procedure/method to get a list of the supported fields for utopian postcodes.

  my @fields = Geo::postcodes::U2::get_fields();
  my @fields = $P->get_fields();


Use this procedure/method to check if the specified field exist for utopian postcodes.

  my $boolean = Geo::postcodes::U2::is_field($field);
  my $boolean = $P->is_field($field);

    A sample program

This sample program is available as "eg/basic_dk in the danish, and eg/basic_no" in the norwegian distributions. The line numbers are used for clarity only.

Specify one or more postcodes on the command line; e.g. "basic_u2 1001 1003".

 01 #! /usr/bin/perl -w
 02 use strict;
 03 use Geo::Postcodes::U2 0.30;

The example will not work with older versions of the module.

 04 unless (@ARGV)
 05 {
 06   print "Usage: basic_u2 <one or more utopian postcodes>\n";
 07   exit;
 08 }

Exit with an error message if the program hasn’t been given any arguments.

 09 foreach my $postcode (@ARGV)
 10 {

Loop through the arguments, and create a postcode object for each one.

 11   if (my $P = Geo::Postcodes::U2->new($postcode)))
 12   {

Skip the argument if it isn’t a valid postcode. The new-call returns an object reference on success, and undef on failure (i.e. an illegal or unvalid postcode).

 13     foreach my $field (Geo::Postcodes::U2::get_fields())
 14     {
 15       printf("%-10s\t%s\n", ucfirst($field), $P->$field() || ""),
 16     }

For each field supported by the module, we print the field name (with an initial uppercase letter), followed by the value of the field. All tabulated nicely.

 17      printf("%-10s\t%s\n\n", "Type_english",
 18        Geo::Postcodes::type2verbose($P->type()));
 19   }

We must ask for the english description of the type manually.

 20   else # Not valid.
 21   {
 22     if (Geo::Postcodes::U2::legal($postcode))
 23     {
 24       print "Postcode $postcode not in use.\n\n";
 25     }
 26     else
 27     {
 28       print "Illegal postcode $postcode.\n\n";
 29     }
 30   }
 31 }

This part will be called if the new-call fails, and we will get an error message telling us what is wrong; if the argument is illegal (not following the rules for utopian postcodes) or invalid (not in use).


The procedures and methods mentioned till now will only give us one (or zero) postcode at a time, but it is possibly to get several postcodes at once.


  @postcodes =      Geo::postcodes::U2::get_postcodes(); # Unsorted
  @postcodes = sort Geo::postcodes::U2::get_postcodes(); # Sorted

This procedure returns an unsorted list of all the postcodes.

It is possible to use this call to write your own selection code:

  my @list;
  foreach my $postcode (Geo::postcodes::U2::get_postcodes())
    push(@list, $postcode) if check_the_postcode_for_something($postcode);

Write the check_the_postcode_for_something-procedure to decide if the postcode should be included. Use the xxx_of-procedures, or whatever else is needed. Do not create postcode objects inside this loop, as this will increase the time of execution quite a lot.


The module has a selection procedure/method, that can be used if the check can be expressed as a regular expression on one or more if the fields.

See the selection manual (perldoc Geo::Postcodes::Selection or man Geo::Postcodes::Selection) for further information.


This procedure/method can be used to get rid of the loop in the following example:

  my @list = Geo::postcodes::U2::selection(....);
  foreach my $postcode (@list)

The following line of code will do the same thing:

  Geo::postcodes::U2::selection_loop(\&do_something, ....);

The loop can use postcode objects instead of plain postcodes, as with selection.

  Geo::postcodes::U2->selection_loop(\&do_something, ....);

The benefit of this is that the selection-method will generate all the postcode objects, before passing them on, while this method will generate one at a time, destroying the prevoius one before creating a new.


This will check the list of arguments for correctness, and should be used before calling selection or selection_loop. The procedure returns a modified version of the arguments on success, and diagnostic messages on failure.

  my ($status, @modified) = Geo::Postcodes::U2::verify_selectionlist(@args);

  if ($status)
    my @result = Geo::Postcodes::U2::selection(@modified);
     # And do something with the list of postcodes.
    print "Diagnostic messages:\n";
    map { print " - $_\n" } @modified;

    A second program

This sample program is available as "eg/selection_dk in the danish, and eg/selectionc_no" in the norwegian distributions. The line numbers are used for clarity only.

Specify a field and a value on the command line, e.g. "selection_u2 postcode %12".

 01 #! /usr/bin/perl -w
 02 use strict;
 03 use Geo::Postcodes::DK 0.30;

 04 unless (@ARGV == 2)
 05 {
 06  print "Usage: selection_u2 <field> <value>\n";
 07  print "Legal fields: ", join(" ", Geo::Postcodes::U2::get_fields()), ".\n";
 08  exit;
 09 }

This program requires exactly two arguments, a field and a value, and is terminated if the are missing.

 10 my $field = shift(@ARGV);
 11 my $value = shift(@ARGV);
 12 my @fields;

 13 if (Geo::Postcodes::U2::is_field($field))
 14 {

Do we have a legal field? (If not, the else-part below will give an error message.

 15   @fields = Geo::Postcodes::U2::get_fields();

Get the list of available fields for this class.

 16   foreach my $m (@fields)
 17   {
 18     printf("%-14s", ucfirst($m));
 19   }
 20   print "\n";

We are going to print one line for each matching postcode, and this will give us a header line.

 21   Geo::Postcodes::U2->selection_loop(\&print_it, $field, $value);

This piece of magic will use the select method to find any matching postcodes, and pass them on as a postcode pbject to the specified print_it procedure - one at a time.

 22   print "\n";
 23 }

 24 else # illegal field.
 25 {
 26   print "Not a legal field $field.\n";
 27 }

A simple error message.

 28 sub print_it
 29 {
 30   my $object = shift;
 31   foreach my $method (@fields)
 32   {
 33     printf("%-14s", $object->$method() || "");
 34   }
 35   print "\n";
 36 }

This procedure is called for each matching postcode, and receives a postcode object as argument. The foreach loop uses the list of fields set up in line 15. The second part of the argument in the print statement traps errors, as the call returns undef if the value is undefined for the given postcode, and printing an undefined value gives a warning.

    A third program

This sample program is available as "eg/multiselection_dk in the danish, and eg/multiselectionc_no" in the norwegian distributions. The line numbers are used for clarity only.

Specify a field and a value on the command line, e.g. "multiselection_u2 postcode %12" (for postcodes ending with ’12’).

 01 #! /usr/bin/perl -w
 02 use strict;
 03 use Geo::Postcodes::U2 0.30;

This should be familiar by now.

 04 my ($status, @lines) = Geo::Postcodes::U2::verify_selectionlist(@ARGV);

Simply passing a list of arguments on to selection is not a good idea, as it will return an empty list both on failure (as in syntax errors, illegal modes or fields) and when the call itself didn’t match anything.

Use verify_selectionlist to check the argument list for errors. The $status variable is true if the argument list is legal, and false otherwise.

 11 if ($status == 0)
 12 {
 13   print "Usage: \n",
 14         " * multiselection_u2 [all|none]\n",
 15         " * multiselection_u2 [" ,
 16         join("|", Geo::Postcodes::get_initial_selectionmodes()),
 17         "]? <field> <value> [[",
 18         join("|", Geo::Postcodes::get_selectionmodes()),
 19         "]? [<field> <value>]]*\n\n";
 20   print "Legal fields: ", join(", ", Geo::Postcodes::U2::get_fields()), "\n\n";

We use several procedures to show the legal modes and fields. This ensures that we do not have to update the program if we add new modes or fields in the modules later on (and that the code, as shown, will work for all country modules; after substituting ’U2’ and ’u2’ with another country code.) ).

 21   print "Diagnostic output:\n";
 22   foreach (@lines)
 23   {
 24     print " * $_\n";
 25   }

The @lines variable contains diagnostic output on failure, and they are printed as a service to the user - to help correct the error.

 26   exit;
 27 }

 28 my @fields = Geo::Postcodes::U2::get_fields();
 29 foreach my $m (@fields)
 30 {
 31   printf("%-14s", ucfirst($m)); # Print headers for each column
 32 }
 33 print "\n";

 34 foreach my $P (Geo::Postcodes::U2->selection(@lines))
 35 {

Note that we use the argument list as returned by the verify_selectionlist call, as it corrects some mistakes that the selection procedure/method does not cope with.

 36   foreach my $method (@fields)
 37   {
 38     printf("%-14s", $P->$method() || "");
 39   }
 40   print "\n";
 41 }
 42 print "\n";

    Advanced selection

The arguments to the selection procedure/method is not restricted to pairs of field/value, combined together with the logical operators ’and’, ’or’ and so on.

It is also possible to call external procedures, and have them decide if the postcode should be included. Specify procedure and \&procedure_to_do_the_job, instead of a field/value pair.

The procedure is passed the postcode, and must return true or false.

 sub procedure_to_do_the_job
   my postcode = shift;
   return 1 if ...
   return 0;

Passing a pointer to a non-existing procedure to selection will result in an empty list in return. verify_selectionlist can be used to check that any specified procedures actually exist.

    A fourth program

This sample program is available as "eg/static_dk in the danish, and eg/static_no" in the norwegian distributions. The line numbers are used for clarity only.

 01 #! /usr/bin/perl -w
 02 use strict;
 03 use Geo::Postcodes::U2 0.30;

This should be familiar by now.

 04 use Digest::SHA1;

For the sake of this example, som computation had to be done that could not be done by a regular expression. This module was chosen.

 05 my @arg1 = (postcode => (.)(.)\2\1);

We start with a regular expression, matching postcodes where the first and fourth digit are identical, as is the second and third.

 06 print "All norwegian postcodes where (...),\n";
 06 print "All norwegian postcodes where :\n";
 07 my @postcodes = Geo::Postcodes::NO::selection(@arg1);
 08 print join ",", @postcodes; print ".\n\n";

This prints the matching postcodes. Nothing fancy so far.

 09 print "As above, but with the addition of a procedure:\n";
 10 my @arg2 = (@arg1, procedure => \&selector_procedure);

Now we have added a procedure to the argument list, and the selection call below does the job for us.

 11 @postcodes = Geo::Postcodes::NO::selection(@arg2);
 12 print join ",", @postcodes; print ".\n\n";

 13 sub selector_procedure
 14 {
 15   my $postcode = shift;
 16   my $location = Geo::Postcodes::NO::location_of($postcode);
 17   my $digest = Digest::SHA1::sha1($location);
 18   return 1 if substr($digest, 10, 5) =~ /[a-z]/;
 19   return 0;
 20 }

The procedure computes the SHA1-digest for the postal location, and returns true if the there is a lower case letter (a-z) among the 11th to 15th characters of the digest. This may not be very useful in practice...


See also the documentation for the core module Geo::Postcodes, the selection family (perldoc Geo::Postcodes::Selection or man Geo::Postcodes::Selection) and the individual country modules; currently Geo::Postcodes::DK (Denmark) and Geo::Postcodes::NO (Norway).

The latest version of everyting is available on CPAN, but see also the library home page; for additional information and sample usage.


Copyright (C) 2006 by Arne Sommer -

This library is free software; you can redistribute them and/or modify it under the same terms as Perl itself.

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