Yahoo Web Services are made available to developers through Yahoo’s Developer Network; a variety of services are available but this article is specifically interested in using Yahoo’s Geocoding Service. This service will return the closest matching address to a submitted physical address and will also return the address' position in latitude and longitude. The terms and conditions for using the service are pretty simple; users are permitted to geocode up to 5,000 addresses per day for the very reasonable price of absolutely nothing.
This article will demonstrate the basics of submitting an address to the service, recovering and displaying the geocoded result, and will also demonstrate a simple approach to displaying the location as mapped using Yahoo maps. For more information regarding the program, refer directly to the Yahoo Developer Network website located here.
On a limited basis, the service can be used to obtain and store latitude and longitude on all of the addresses contained in some sort of contact database or asset location database, or might be useful for storing waypoints in a GPS device. Naturally the service is based upon physical addresses so its use is limited to tagging physical addresses with a lat/long.
When visiting the site, take a look at the different programs available and take a look at some of the many services made available through Yahoo.
Figure 1: The demonstration application running.
Figure 2: Displaying the coordinates in Yahoo Maps.
In order to get started, unzip the included project and open the solution in the Visual Studio 2005 environment. In the solution explorer, you should note these files:
Figure 3: Solution Explorer.
The Main Form (Form1.vb)
The main form is the only form contained in the application; all of the application specific code required to access the service, return the results of an address search, and to display those results as text or as a map are included in this class.
The code is pretty simple, if you'd care to open the code view up in the IDE, you will see that the code file begins as follows:
The only import is System.Xml.
Following the import, the class is defined and a default constructor added.
Public Class Form1
Public Sub New()
Next up is the declaration of a structure used to contain the results returned from a request to geocode a physical address.
Public Structure Address
Public Street As String
Public City As String
Public State As String
Public Zip As String
Public Country As String
Public Latitude As String
Public Longitude As String
Private SearchAddress As Address
The next section of the code is used to request a search on an address; this request is submitted to Yahoo’s service which returns the nearest matching address along with its latitude and longitude. The geocoded address returned from the service is stored in an
Private Function GetAddress(ByVal street As String, _
ByVal city As String, _
ByVal state As String) As Address
Dim newAddress As New Address()
Dim reader As New XmlTextReader_
+ street + "&city=" + city + "&state=" + state)
reader.WhitespaceHandling = WhitespaceHandling.Significant
If reader.Name.ToString() = "Address" Then
newAddress.Street = reader.ReadString().ToString()
If reader.Name.ToString() = "City" Then
newAddress.City = reader.ReadString().ToString()
If reader.Name.ToString() = "State" Then
newAddress.State = reader.ReadString().ToString()
If reader.Name.ToString() = "Zip" Then
newAddress.Zip = reader.ReadString().ToString()
If reader.Name.ToString() = "Country" Then
newAddress.Country = reader.ReadString().ToString()
If reader.Name.ToString() = "Latitude" Then
newAddress.Latitude = reader.ReadString().ToString()
If reader.Name.ToString() = "Longitude" Then
newAddress.Longitude = reader.ReadString().ToString()
The find button click event handler starts a search for the user supplied address; the nearest match is displayed on the form’s search results.
Private Sub btnFind_Click(ByVal sender As System.Object, _
ByVal e As System.EventArgs) Handles btnFind.Click
If (txtSearchCity.Text = String.Empty Or _
txtSearchState.Text = String.Empty Or _
txtSearchStreet.Text = String.Empty) Then
MessageBox.Show("Complete all search terms prior to submitting a request.", _
SearchAddress = New Address()
SearchAddress = GetAddress(txtSearchStreet.Text, _
Catch ex As Exception
txtStreet.Text = SearchAddress.Street
txtCity.Text = SearchAddress.City
txtState.Text = SearchAddress.State
txtZip.Text = SearchAddress.Zip
txtCountry.Text = SearchAddress.Country
txtLatitude.Text = SearchAddress.Latitude
txtLongitude.Text = SearchAddress.Longitude
Catch ex As Exception
The next bit of code is used to clear out all of the search results section text boxes.
Private Sub CleanTextboxes()
txtStreet.Text = String.Empty
txtCity.Text = String.Empty
txtState.Text = String.Empty
txtZip.Text = String.Empty
txtCountry.Text = String.Empty
txtLatitude.Text = String.Empty
txtLongitude.Text = String.Empty
The next event handler exits the application if the user decides to shut down the program.
Private Sub btnExit_Click(ByVal sender As System.Object, _
ByVal e As System.EventArgs) Handles btnExit.Click
The last bit of code contained in the application is used to open the Geocoded coordinates returned from the service into a running instance of Yahoo Maps. The approach here is simply to format a query string using the values returned from the service.
Private Sub btnMapLocation_Click(ByVal sender As System.Object, _
ByVal e As System.EventArgs) Handles btnMapLocation.Click
MessageBox.Show("Mapping Address: " + SearchAddress.Street.ToString(), _
MessageBox.Show("Invalid address", "Error")
"http://maps.yahoo.com/#mvt=m&lat=" + SearchAddress.Latitude + _
"&lon=" + SearchAddress.Longitude + "&mag=3&q1=" + SearchAddress.Latitude + _
"%2C%20" + SearchAddress.Longitude)
This application was provided as an example of how one might take advantage of the Yahoo Address Geocoding service. This service, along with many others provided by Yahoo, is available at no cost to the developer. If one were required to geocode a collection of addresses, yet lacked access to some of the available third party tools (such as the ESRI product line), this service could be invaluable. The service mentioned in this article is only a small part of the overall offering and I would encourage anyone interested in providing a low cost, Web based mapping solution to investigate the Yahoo Developer’s Network.