postcode

This Release
postcode 1.3.0
Date
Status
Stable
Abstract
UK postcode type optimised for indexing
Description
Parses and encodes UK postcodes in 32 bits optimised for indexing and partial matches. Also provides suitable type for delivery point suffixes.
Released By
patchsoft
License
The (two-clause) FreeBSD License
Resources
Special Files
Tags

Extensions

postcode 1.3.0
UK postcode type optimised for indexing

README

Postcode 1.3

UK postcode encoded in 32 bits and optimised for indexing and partial matches

Coverage

Supports all 126 postcode areas. The crown dependencies GY, JE and IM are included plus two non-geographic areas BX and BF.

The type should support all current and future codes with the sole exception of the atypical code GIR 0AA, which Royal Mail nolonger includes within the postcode address file. In the unlikely event further postcode areas are added the type is extensible to a maximum of 255 areas (see areas.h)

Parsing

Text input must match one of the above areas followed by a correctly specified district, sector and walk. Although the type enforces entry of a code with the correct components, confirming a code is allocated for use requires an external data source such as Code-Point Open

The text parser is relatively tolerant of varied formatting and will correct for capitalisation and a variable number (or lack of) spaces between the outward and inward codes.

Rendering

When rendering postcodes to text the default output is upper case with a single space between the outcode and incode. If an alternative format is required a to_char() function is provided. The default output is equivalent to calling to_char(postcode, 'AD SW');

Partial matching

For partial match queries using the % operator any potential ambiguity is resolved by allocating the maximum number of digits to the district unless an explicit space is placed between the district and sector.

For example % 'LS24' returns all postcodes in district LS24. To return all codes in sector 4 of LS2 use % 'LS2 4'.

Neither or both characters of the walk must be entered. A partial search including them is functionally equivalent to the equality = operator.

Indexing

Standard B-tree operators are supported. The sort order is consistent with that of the type rendered to text format using the C locale. Indexes can also be used to accelerate partial matches performed via the % operator.

A B-tree index for the encoded type will be approximately 25% smaller than an equivalent index on a column of type text. This may give a performance advantage where the index can therefore be held entirely within memory.

Delivery point suffixes

For any postcode there is a maximum of 175 delivery points, each of which is allocated a suffix of the form [1-9][A-Z] with the characters CIKMOV not used. Suffixes follow the sequence 1A, 1B, 1C through to 9T. Codes 9U-9Z are for use by applications as defaults where the correct suffix is unknown.

A suitable type (dps) is provided which encodes into one byte all possible values, including codes 9U-9Z. Parsing is case insensitive but output is always in upper case.

The type aims to provide strict validation rather than space efficiency, although some small storage savings can be made compared to char(2) if careful ordering of columns is made with respect to alignment.

Binary format

For client applications exchanging results in binary format the functions declared in binfmt.h can be used for parsing from or rendering to text format

Bugs

Regression tests are provided using pg_regress via the installcheck target. Reports of errors or omissions are welcomed by the author via email to dgreen at patchsoft .co.uk (remove all spaces).