Drop-in zip code meta info queries for your Rails app
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zip_meta is a Rails plugin that supplies a simple “zip_meta” helper method to your app's controllers and views that, when passed a US zip code (either as a string or a fixnum), gives you a hash of the following associated meta info:

  • city (String)

  • state (String)

  • latitude (Float)

  • longitude (Float)

  • timezone (Integer)

The plugin queries a table populated with zip code meta info, and you'll need to run a migration (see section below) to create and populate this table. This gem was written to solve an issue encountered during the ongoing development of Secure Scheduling.


To use this gem in your Rails app, add an appropriate entry to your Gemfile:

gem 'zip_meta'

The zip_meta method queries a database table populated with the contents of the 'zipcodes.csv' file (which can be found in zip_meta/lib/data) originally published by CivicSpace Labs in 2004. You'll need to generate and run a migration to create and populate this table. To do so, run:

rails generate zip_meta_migration && rake db:migrate

The zipcodes.csv file whose data the migration loads into the zip_meta table contains > 43,000 rows, so be patient (on my 2009 MacBook Pro, the migration takes ~11 seconds to run).

Once you've run the migration, you'll be able to use the “zip_meta” method from within your controllers and views to query meta info for any US zip code!

Example Usage

class MapItemsController < ApplicationController
  # (...assuming we have a MapItem model with a string or fixnum "zipcode" property...)
  def show
    @map_item = MapItem.find(params[:id])
    @location_details = zip_meta(@map_item.zipcode)
    # => {:zip=>"10003", :city=>"New York", :state=>"NY", :latitude=>40.732509, :longitude=>-73.98935, :timezone=>-5}

Running Tests

This gem uses Rspec for testing.  To run tests:

  $ rspec spec

from the project's root directory