I am currently working on a project that has a requirement to populate city and state fields in an address form from a given zip code. To satisfy this requirement, I searched the web for freely available zip code lists, along with the corresponding states and zips. It didn't take me long to find this site, that has a zip code database available for download. The only problem is that the data is only downloadable in Microsoft Access format and as a CSV file, and the project is using PostgreSQL as its RDBMS. This article explains the steps necessary to import Comma Separated Value (CSV) files into a PostgreSQL database. The technique presented here will load the data in the CSV file into a single PostgreSQL database.
The first step towards importing CSV data into PostgreSQL is to create a table that will hold the data, this can be done via the PostgreSQL CREATE TABLE command. A column needs to be created for each field in the CSV file. The CFDynamics site mentioned above lists the column names for the zip code table, I decided to keep things simple and use the same column names suggested by them.
create table zip_codes (ZIP char(5), LATITUDE double precision, LONGITUDE double precision, CITY varchar, STATE char(2), COUNTY varchar, ZIP_CLASS varchar);
Next, we need to load the data from the CSV file into the newly created table, we can achieve this by using PostrgreSQL's
copy zip_codes from '/path/to/csv/ZIP_CODES.txt' DELIMITERS ',' CSV;
The first argument to the
COPY command (zip_codes in this example) is the table the data will be copied to. The second argument ('/path/to/csv/ZIP_CODES.txt') is the path to the CSV file. We indicate the delimiter (comma, in this case) by passing ',' to the
DELIMITERS modifier of the
Last but not least, passing the
CSV modifier to the
COPY command lets it know we are dealing with a CSV file, and lets PostgreSQL escape the data accordingly. This was very handy for our CSV file, since all fields in the CSV were surrounded by double quotes, both character and numeric fields. PostgreSQL handled this gracefully, I had to do nothing special to take care of removing the double quotes.
CSV files are very common since many software products provide CSV export capabilities, including most spreadsheets and many web based applications (very common in online banking). PostgreSQL's
COPY command makes it very easy to import data in CSV format into a database.