Django form geocode submitted address to get lat, lon and postal code

One of my Django applications includes a form where user can enter and submit a property address.

django form

The user submitting the form might not know the postal code so I left it optional. However the postal code is a key piece of information for this particular application so I wanted to ensure that I was getting it.

I also wanted to geocode the address immediately to get the address latitude and longitude so it could be shown to user on a Leaflet.js map.

There are lots of free geocoding services for low intensity usage but I ended up using Google Geocoding which is free under certain usage level. You just need to create a Geocoding API project and use the credentials to set up the geocoding.

To interact with the geocoding API I tried Python gecoding modules geopy and geocoder but in the end just used Python Requests module instead as it was less complicated.

When the user clicked the Submit button, behind the scenes, Requests submitted the address to Google’s Geocoding API, gets the JSON response containing the latitude, longitude and postal code which are then written to the application database.

I will update the code in future to check if the user’s postal code is correct and replace it if it is incorrect. Will wait to see how the postal code accuracy looks. Making geocoding API requests too often could bump me over the free usage limit.

The Django View that contains the code described above is shown below.

def property_add(request):
    property_list = Property.objects.filter('created')
    if request.method == 'POST':
        form = PropertyForm(request.POST)
        if form.is_valid():
            new_property =
            address = "%s, %s, %s, %s" % (new_property.address1,, new_property.state, new_property.postcode)
            google_geocode_key = 'xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx'
            url = '' + "'" + address + "'" + '&key=' + google_geocode_key
                response = requests.get(url)
                geoArray = response.json()
       = geoArray['results'][0]['geometry']['location']['lat']
                new_property.lon = geoArray['results'][0]['geometry']['location']['lng']
                new_postcode = geoArray['results'][0]['address_components'][7]['long_name']
                new_fsa = geoArray['results'][0]['address_components'][7]['short_name'][:3]
       = None
                new_property.lon = None
                new_postcode = None
                new_fsa = None
            if new_property.postcode:
                new_property.fsa = new_property.postcode[:3]
                new_property.postcode = new_postcode
                new_property.fsa = new_fsa
            new_property.user_id =
            new_property =
            return HttpResponseRedirect(reverse(property, args=(,)))
        form = PropertyForm()

    context_dict = {
        'form': form, 
        'property_list': property_list,
    return render(
        context_instance = RequestContext(
                'title':'Add Property',


Leaflet.js choropleth map color by count using geoJSON datasource

I have a Django web application that needed an interactive map with shapes corresponding to Canadian postal code FSA areas that were different colors based on how many properties were in each FSA. It ended up looking something like the screenshot below.


This exercise turned out to be relatively easy using the awesome open-source Javascript map library Leaflet.js.

I used this Leaflet.js tutorial as the foundation for my map.

One of the biggest challenges was finding a suitable data source for the FSAs. Chad Skelton (now former) data journalist at the Vancouver Sun wrote a helpful blog post about his experience getting a suitable FSA data source. I ended up using his BC FSA data source for my map.

Statistics Canada hosts a Canada Post FSA boundary files for all of Canada. As Chad Skelton notes these have boundaries that extend out into the ocean among other challenges.

Here is a summary of the steps that I followed to get my choropleth map:

1. Find and download FSA boundary file. See above.

2. Convert FSA boundary file to geoJSON from SHP file using qGIS.

3. Create Django queryset to create data source for counts of properties by FSA to be added to the Leaflet map layer.

4. Create Leaflet.js map in HTML page basically the HTML DIV that holds the map and separate Javascript script that loads Leaflet.js, the FSA geoJSON boundary data and processes it to create the desired map.

Find and download FSA boundary file.

See above.

Convert FSA boundary file to geoJSON from SHP file using qGIS.

Go to and download qGIS. Its free and open source.

Use qGIS to convert the data file from Canada Post or other source to geoJSON format. Lots of blog posts and documentation about how to use qGIS for this just a Google search away.

My geoJSON data source looked like this:

var bcData = {
    "type": "FeatureCollection",
    "crs": { "type": "name", "properties": { "name": "urn:ogc:def:crs:EPSG::4269" } },
    "features": [
    { "type": "Feature", "properties": { "CFSAUID": "V0A", "PRUID": "59", "PRNAME": "British Columbia \/ Colombie-Britannique" }, "geometry": { "type": "MultiPolygon", "coordinates": [ [ [ [ -115.49499542, 50.780018587000029 ], [ -115.50032807, 50.77718343600003 ], [ -115.49722732099997, 50.772528975000057 ], [ -115.49321284, 50.770504059000075 ], [ -115.49393662599999, 50.768143038000062 ], [ -115.50289288699997, 50.762270941000054 ], [ -115.50846411599997, 50.754243300000041 ], [ -115.5104796, 50.753297703000044 ], [ -115.51397592099994, 50.748953800000038 ], [ -115.51861431199995, 50.745737989000077 ], [ -115.52586378899997, 50.743771099000071 ], [ -115.53026371899995, 50.74397910700003 ], [ -115.53451319199996,


Create Django queryset to create data source for counts of properties by FSA to be added to the Leaflet map layer.

I used a SQL query in the Django View to get count of properties by FSA.

This dataset looks like this in the template. These results have only one FSA, if it had more it would have more FSA / count pairs.

   var fsa_array = [["V3J", 19]];

Below is code for  the Django view query to create the fsa_array FSA / counts data source.

    cursor = connection.cursor()
    "select fsa, count(*) \
    from properties \
    group by fsa \
    order by fsa;")
    fsas_cursor = list(cursor.fetchall())

    fsas_array = [(x[0].encode('utf8'), int(x[1])) for x in fsas_cursor]

My Javascript largely retains the Leaflet tutorial code with some modifications:

1. How the legend colors and intervals are assigned is changed but otherwise legend functions the same.

2. Significantly changed how the color for each FSA is assigned. The tutorial had the color in its geoJSON file so only had to reference it directly. My colors were coming from the View so I had to change code to include new function to match FSA’s in both my Django view data and the geoJSON FSA boundary file and return the appropriate color based on the Django View data set count.

var map ='map',{scrollWheelZoom:false}).setView([ active_city_center_lat, active_city_center_lon], active_city_zoom);

map.once('focus', function() { map.scrollWheelZoom.enable(); });

var fsa_array = fsas_array_safe;

L.tileLayer('{id}/{z}/{x}/{y}.png?access_token=pk.eyJ1IjoibWFwYm94IiwiYSI6ImNpandmbXliNDBjZWd2M2x6bDk3c2ZtOTkifQ._QA7i5Mpkd_m30IGElHziw', {
    maxZoom: 18,
    attribution: 'Map data ©


 contributors, ' +


, ' +
        'Imagery ©


    id: 'mapbox.light'

// control that shows state info on hover
var info = L.control();

info.onAdd = function (map) {
    this._div = L.DomUtil.create('div', 'info');
    return this._div;

info.update = function (props) {
    this._div.innerHTML = (props ?
        '' + props.CFSAUID + ' ' + getFSACount(props.CFSAUID) + ' lonely homes' 
        : 'Hover over each postal area to see lonely home counts to date.');


// get color 
function getColor(n) {
    return n > 30 ? '#b10026'
           : n > 25 ? '#e31a1c' 
           : n > 25 ? '#fc4e2a' 
           : n > 20 ? '#fd8d3c'
           : n > 15  ? '#feb24c'
           : n > 10  ? '#fed976'
           : n > 5  ? '#ffeda0'
           : n > 0  ? '#ffffcc'
           : '#ffffff';

function getFSACount(CFSAUID) {
    var fsaCount;
    for (var i = 0; i < fsa_array.length; i++) {
        if (fsa_array[i][0] === CFSAUID) {
            fsaCount = ' has ' + fsa_array[i][1];
    if (fsaCount == null) {
         fsaCount = ' has no '; 
    return fsaCount;

function getFSAColor(CFSAUID) {
    var color;
    for (var i = 0; i < fsa_array.length; i++) {
    if (fsa_array[i][0] === CFSAUID) {
        color = getColor(fsa_array[i][1]);
        //console.log(fsa_array[i][1] + '-' + color)
    return color;
function style(feature) {
    return {
        weight: 1,
        opacity: 1,
        color: 'white',
        dashArray: '3',
        fillOpacity: 0.7,
        fillColor: getFSAColor(

function highlightFeature(e) {
    var layer =;
        weight: 2,
        color: '#333',
        dashArray: '',
        fillOpacity: 0.7

    if (! && !L.Browser.opera) {


var geojson;

function resetHighlight(e) {

function zoomToFeature(e) {

function onEachFeature(feature, layer) {
        mouseover: highlightFeature,
        mouseout: resetHighlight,
        click: zoomToFeature

geojson = L.geoJson(bcData, {
    style: style,
    onEachFeature: onEachFeature

var legend = L.control({position: 'bottomright'});

legend.onAdd = function (map) {

    var div = L.DomUtil.create('div', 'info legend'),
        grades = [0, 1, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30],
        labels = [],
        from, to;

    for (var i = 0; i < grades.length; i++) {
        from = grades[i];
        if (i === 0) {
            var_from_to = grades[i];
            var_color = getColor(from);
        } else {
            var_from_to =  from + (grades[i + 1] ? '–' + grades[i + 1] : '+') ;
            var_color = getColor(from + 1);
            ' ' +

    div.innerHTML = labels.join('
    return div;


That is pretty much all there is to creating very nice looking interactive free open-source choropleth maps for your Django website application!

Django recreate database table

Django’s makemigrations and migrate commands are very useful to update existing database tables to reflect model changes.

However if you have made many existing table column name changes, migrate will ask you a series of ‘y/N’ questions about which column names are changed. This can be tedious to cycle through especially if there are many changes.

Depending on the relationships your table has, it may be easier and quicker to:

  • Create a backup of the table by copying and renaming table or exporting table data to csv
  • Drop the table
  • Recreate table from scratch
  • Reload data into the new updated table

The question is how to recreate the table?

After you drop the table you can remove your table model from the field and then run makemigrations and then run migrate —fake which is the special trick to get past migrate wanting your table to exist before it can delete it.

Then after you run migrate –fake, you can put your update model for your table back into your and then makemigrations and migrate and you will get your new updated table recreated in database.

Then you can recover your data from the backup with SQL INSERT or by using database data import feature.


Always remember to start Python Virtualenv

When learning to develop Django and Flask Python applications using virtual environment I did not know that I should activate the virtual environment before running the application. Well, more precisely, I did know the virtual env should be activated but rather I assumed it would be activated somehow auto-magically.

I was using MS Visual Studio 2015 RC and its new Python Tools which work fine by the way. One can install new Python/Flask/Django/etc modules via the IDE.

This was also the first time I was using Python virtual environment. I hadn’t previously done any Python web development. I had used Python for analytical purposes in files, command line and iPython but all of these used the ‘native’ operating system Python installation.

In MS VS 2015 RC, after Python Tools are installed, there are templates to create new Django or Flask projects, and one of the steps asks if I want to install virtual env or not.

So after a bit of search and read I realized virtual env is the way to go. Its better for many reasons to have a standalone Python environment for each new Python/Flask/Django project.

I just assumed that since I had created my new Python application with a virtual env that when I opened Visual Studio and started working on it, it would be in virtual environment by default somehow auto-magically.

But no, the virtual environment has to be activated manually each time the project is opened or before being able to interact with the project via web browser. So remember to activate your virtual env before running your Python/Flash/Django application.

What mislead me was that running the application without first activating the virtual environment can often be ok because the native operating system Python installation has the required modules, so application runs just fine.

But I ran into problems when after installing new Python modules only to see the application complaining that they weren’t available eg got error message in browser and command line from the server saying ‘no module named xxx’. This was confusing because I was thinking hey I just installed that.

So remember activating the virtual env before running the Python application is required. Now it is second nature to do this.

To activate the virtual env in Windows simply navigate to the ‘Scripts’ folder in your virtual env folder and run the ‘activate.bat’ file.

In command line enter ‘activate’ in that folder. Or you can enter the full path to the activate.bat from anywhere in command line.

You can easily see if virtual env has been started because when it is you will see ‘(env)’ at the start of the command line.

Then you can go back to your application folder with the ‘’ (or whatever you call it) and then start the application!