Sunlight Labs API Gem
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A little gem that integrates with the Sunlight Labs API. From the official site:
The Sunlight Labs API provides methods for obtaining basic information on Members of Congress, legislator IDs used by various websites, and lookups between places and the politicians that represent them. The primary purpose of the API is to facilitate mashups involving politicians and the various other APIs that are out there.
Full API documentation available here.
Also, the Sunlight gem integrates with the Google Maps API for street address geocoding. Because some zip codes overlap two or more congressional districts, passing in a latitude/longitude will give users the most accurate information. Since it’s highly unlikely a user would know their exact lat/long, the Google Maps API is used to translate a street address string into a lat/long pair.
The following gems are required:
$ sudo gem install json ym4r
Then, install the stable Sunlight gem:
$ sudo gem install sunlight
Or, if you’re adventurous, the latest dev version (which should be quite stable):
$ sudo gem install luigi-sunlight --source=http://gems.github.com
First, register for an API key here.
Then, you’ll want to stick the following lines somewhere in your Ruby environment.
require 'rubygems' require 'sunlight' include Sunlight Sunlight.api_key = 'yourapikeyfromtheurlabove'
If you’re testing this out in IRB, you’ll run them one at a time. If you’re using Rails 2.1, stick them in a file called
RAILS_ROOT/config/initializers. They’ll load on app startup.
Now, it’s time to get to the good stuff. The most useful method is
congresspeople = Legislator.all_for(:address => "123 Fifth Ave New York, NY 10003") senior_senator = congresspeople[:senior_senator] junior_senator = congresspeople[:junior_senator] representative = congresspeople[:representative] junior_senator.firstname # returns "Hillary" junior_senator.lastname # returns "Clinton" junior_senator.congress_office # returns "476 Russell Senate Office Building" junior_senator.phone # returns "202-224-4451"
Note that you should make the best attempt to get a full street address, as that is geocoded behind the scenes into a lat/long pair. A five-digit zip code alone won’t cut it, as there may be multiple congressional districts in a single zip code (there are ways to deal with this below). If you pass in a zip+4, then you’ll get much better geocoding results.
Legislator#all_for returns a hash of
Legislator objects, and the keys are
:representative. Make sure to review all the available fields from the Sunlight Labs API. You can also pass in a lat/long pair:
congresspeople = Legislator.all_for(:latitude => 33.876145, :longitude => -84.453789)
This bypasses the geocoding necessary by the Google Maps API. For social networks and other applications with a User object, it makes sense to geocode the user’s address up front and save the lat/long data in the local database. Then, use the lat/long pair instead of address, which cuts a substantial bit of time from the
Legislator#all_for request since the Google Maps API Geocoding function doesn’t have to be called.
You can also use the
Legislator#all_where method for searching based on available fields. You’ll get back an array of
johns = Legislator.all_where(:firstname => "John") floridians = Legislator.all_where(:state => "FL") dudes = Legislator.all_where(:gender => "M") johns.each do |john| # do stuff end
There’s also the
District#get takes in either lat/long or an address and does it’s best to return the correct Congressional District:
district = District.get(:latitude => 33.876145, :longitude => -84.453789) district.state # returns "GA" district.number # returns "6" district = District.get(:address => "123 Fifth Ave New York, NY")
Finally, two more methods,
District.zipcodes_in, help you out when all you have is a five-digit zip code and want to make sure you account for all the districts in a zip code, or if you want to get back all zipcodes in a given district.
districts = District.all_from_zipcode(90210) # returns array of District objects zipcodes = District.zipcodes_in("NY", "10") # returns array of zip codes as strings ["11201", "11202", "11203",...]
Copyright © 2008 by Luigi Montanez under the MIT License.
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