Sunday, August 26, 2007

Lightweight Google Geocoder with Java

I often look for tools before deciding to build them myself for obvious reasons: saving time and labor. I was looking for a Java implementation of Google geocoder but there seems to be only this one GeoGoogle. My first impression is that the tool is a little heavy for its job. Further more, it chooses to deal with XML format and all the parsing and schema validation is a bit too much for my taste. To use Google geocode service, all you need is to send an HTTP request along with your address. The response will be in either XML or JSON format. It will include details about the address you sent such as city, state, zipcode, etc, but the most important things are longitude and latitude. So I decided to go with JSON and wrote this tool. Hopefully, someone else might find it useful. Many thanks to the folks that wrote JSON-LIB.

public class GGcoder {
private static final String URL = "";
private static final String DEFAULT_KEY = "YOUR_GOOGLE_API_KEY";

public static GAddress geocode(String address, String key) throws Exception {
URL url = new URL(URL + "&q=" + URLEncoder.encode(address, "UTF-8")
+ "&key=" + key);
URLConnection conn = url.openConnection();
ByteArrayOutputStream output = new ByteArrayOutputStream(1024);
IOUtils.copy(conn.getInputStream(), output);

GAddress gaddr = new GAddress();
JSONObject json = JSONObject.fromString(output.toString());
JSONObject placemark = (JSONObject) query(json, "Placemark[0]");

final String commonId = "AddressDetails.Country.AdministrativeArea";

gaddr.setFullAddress(query(placemark, "address").toString());
commonId + ".SubAdministrativeArea.Locality.PostalCode.PostalCodeNumber")
commonId + ".SubAdministrativeArea.Locality.Thoroughfare.ThoroughfareName")
commonId + ".SubAdministrativeArea.SubAdministrativeAreaName").toString());
gaddr.setState(query(placemark, commonId + ".AdministrativeAreaName").toString());
gaddr.setLat(Double.parseDouble(query(placemark, "Point.coordinates[1]")
gaddr.setLng(Double.parseDouble(query(placemark, "Point.coordinates[0]")
return gaddr;

public static GAddress geocode(String address) throws Exception {
return geocode(address, DEFAULT_KEY);

/* allow query for json nested objects, ie. Placemark[0].address */
private static Object query(JSONObject jo, String query) {
try {
String[] keys = query.split("\\.");
Object r = queryHelper(jo, keys[0]);
for (int i = 1; i < keys.length; i++) {
r = queryHelper(jo.fromObject(r), keys[i]);
return r;
} catch (JSONException e) {
return "";

/* help in query array objects: Placemark[0] */
private static Object queryHelper(JSONObject jo, String query) {
int openIndex = query.indexOf('[');
int endIndex = query.indexOf(']');
if (openIndex > 0) {
String key = query.substring(0, openIndex);
int index = Integer.parseInt(query.substring(openIndex + 1, endIndex));
return jo.getJSONArray(key).get(index);
return jo.get(query);

public static void main(String[] args) throws Exception {
System.out.println(GGcoder.geocode("650 Townsend st, San Francsico, CA"));

/* Class to hold geocode result */
public class GAddress {
public String address;
public String fullAddress;
public String zipCode;
public String city;
public String state;
public double lat;
public double lng;

/* getters and setters */

Post a Comment