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Technical Information

How it Works

All parts of this service were built by FLATTEXT Database Scripts from the ground up and have been comprehensively tested. The script works with location data files to determine how far away a particular Zip code in your data file is from the Zip code the user has entered (or clicked on via a map). Our location files contain location information for every Zip code in the United States and consume a mere 1.3 MB of disk space. The location information is in x,y format and is based on the mathematical center of Zip codes. Is keyed to a map projection that is 6000 units wide and 3750 units deep. While street level (or even neighborhood level) accuracy is not possible with this product (nor any other product like it), it will show the closest group of matches for any search. Products that allow street level accuracy can be leased for many tens of thousands of dollars per year and generally come with hundreds of megabytes of data.

Your data file must be in a delimited text format. Virtually all spreadsheets and databases can export files in formats such as tab or pipe | delimited text. This program does not support fixed length text formats because all the stray spaces cause scripts to run slower and take up unnecessary room on the server. If your data file is in fixed length format, import it into Excel and then export it as "Text and Tabs." The Zip code locator Perl script can be configured to search text files using an assortment of delimiters.

Script/Hardware Requirements

In order to use this script on your server, you must have the following resources:

  • Access to Perl 5.0 or greater on your web server. This script will work on NT servers if the ActiveState version of Perl is running correctly. It runs well on all Unix type web servers (Linux, Sun, etc).
  • At least 1.3 MB of disk space for the state data files.
  • This is an online application only and is not a PC desktop application. It will run on an Intranet, but it will not run on your Windows desktop.
Size Limitations

  • There is no limit set by the script on the maximum number of records that are allowed in your database.
  • Performance and limitations are largely determined by the settings and resources available on your server. Some servers can work well and fast with 4-5 MB of data, others start to complain when searching only 500 KB of data. Generally, if your database is likely to contain hundreds of thousands of records or more, then you really should consider an SQL application, since it is designed for that type of load. Again, the script will run until it has found all of your matches, or until the server kills it for exceeding the allowable load.
Range Limitations

  • State data files include every Zip code in the Unites States, including US possessions and territories, excluding only those Zip codes that do not have corresponding locations (such as overseas military Zip codes).
  • Clickable maps support only the 50 current US states. There is no way to modify either the maps or the script to do range searches on non-US locations.
  • Non-US locations are supported by the through the use of regular searches (for instance, if you have a Country field in your database, it can be searched through a select pull-down list, like):
    Enter US Zip Code: 
    Or Select Country: 

    Note: Above form is sample only and is not connected to a working script.
Features Supported

The supported features vary slightly depending whether we design your script, or if you design it yourself using the FLATTEXT Zip Code Locator Generator. Contact us for details or if you have questions. The standard supported features/possibilities include:

  • Search by Zip code or map, with any other combination of search terms. For instance, suppose your company manufactures a series of products, but some of your dealers/stores carry some products and other dealers/stores carry others... but few carry all of them. If your database structure supports it, you can search by both Zip code and product to limit the search results to those dealers within the search radius that carry a specific product.
  • You can specify the search radius, the number of matches to return per page, and the number of total matches to return for any single search.
  • Supports all standard HTML form elements, including checkboxes, select, select multiple, radio, and textarea fields.
  • Supports image and/or text file uploads, hyperlinks to other web pages on or off your server, hyperlinks to images on or off your server, and the ability to display images as a part of the search results.
  • Template driven search results page, so that your search results are inserted into a page that is formatted in regular HTML, rather than forcing you to format the search results page inside the script.
  • Designed to work with tab delimited, pipe | delimited, comma separated value (csv), or double ampersand && text files. Files of these types can be easily imported into and exported out of programs like MS Excel, MS Access, Lotus 123, FileMaker, etc.
  • Enormous flexibility in how the HTML search interfaces are designed.
  • Great flexibility in how your search results are displayed. Supports tables, unordered lists, paragraph type displays and more.
  • Ability to connect to free external mapping services that show street level maps of your locations, as well as driving directions.
  • Ability to host the script on our hosting server automatically and for free (requires absolutely no CGI knowledge at all). If the script will be installed on your server, you receive all files related to the operation of the script. It does not rely or depend on files located on any of our servers.
Licenses Include the Following Support
  • If you have done any comparison shopping of Zip code locators, you will quickly learn that the initial license is only part of the usual cost. With other services, you often have to pay several hundred dollars a year for data file updates to stay current with USPS changes. We never charge for data file updates. You are free to update your data files at any time and for no charge.
  • Additionally, if your script was created in the generator, you can make changes to your script at any time by selecting "edit" and simply entering the File ID of the script into the generator. Changes, upgrades, and updates are always free for any licensed script.
  • Every script comes with custom instructions that describe your script and its features, as well as tell you how to install it.
  • Unsurpassed technical support. For nearly 3 years, we have helped hundreds of people get their locator scripts running for free. We have a free installation service that allows us to gather information about your server securely and quickly do your install for free (often on the same day as the request). We are in the office at least 65 hours per week (usually 7 days a week) and actually answer our phones and return your calls!
Copyright and License Allowances and Restrictions
  • You are free to modify the script to make it suit your purposes.
  • You are free and encouraged to charge your clients whatever you want if you are building a Zip code locator for them and you use one of our scripts.
  • You are allowed to remove or comment out the "Search Results by FLATTEXT" credit line that appears in Step L7 of your script and displays at the bottom of your search results.
  • You are NOT permitted to remove or modify the copyright statement near the top of the script. This is never shown on the screen and must be retained as a record of intellectual property ownership.
  • While you are permitted to install scripts for clients, you are NOT permitted to distribute the script, the state data files, or any other FLATTEXT elements generally over the web. By this, we mean specifically that if you should not distribute the script as though it were your own property, that people should not be able to go to your web site and download the script, and that you do not "repackage" any part of this product for free or retail distribution.
  • The Zip code locator market is quite small and we have invested tens of thousands of hours into the development of this product, so copyright infringements will be treated very seriously. Both the script and data files are (c) 1997-2000 Thomas Zimmerman.
  • If you have any questions about the domain of this copyright, contact Thomas Zimmerman.
(c) FLATTEXT Database Scripts 1997-2001