API Technical Discussions

wildcarding geo values

this applies to block groups, but others as well ... '+county:*+tract:*' with acs5 is not set to operate with the * wildcarding (using the above selects the first BG in each county only) but would be immensely valuable if county and tract can accept wildcarding rather than specific values. For most users, looking up a tract code is infeasible and generally not desireable (multi tracts being the norm).

Thank you and keep going!


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  1. Comment
    Phillip Thomas

    This post has me confused on one point. Why would a user be looking at the query string? The main idea behind the API is that developers can use these queries to get data back for use inside an app.

    It should be feasible that you could draw back the tract names along with the counties and states they reside in without ever exposing the tract code to a user (or state and county codes for that matter).

    I do see the merits of adding this functionality, and will suggest it to the members of the API development group.

    Comments on this comment

    1. Comment
      Community Member ( Idea Submitter )

      re 'Why would a user be looking at the query string?' - agreed; it may be that they will not. My comment should have been structured a different way.

    2. Comment
      Phillip Thomas

      Considering this is an Application Programming Interface, an end user should *never* see what is being done on this level.

  2. Comment

    Community Member,

    Thank you for your feedback.

    With respect to allowing additional wildcards.

    This is a feature that others have asked for as well and it is something we (the developers) have discussed. It's a good idea. There is a trade-off between flexibility and performance that we need to consider. For example, we would never allow:


    because that returns over 11 million records. If you need bulk access to the data like that then you're far better off downloading it from the FTP site. However, we may allow something like:


    This was an example that Jan Vink asked for during the beta test. This returns 49 records and can do in one call to the API what would otherwise take 24 separate calls.

    The first step for us is to determine what combinations of wildcard and non-wildcards make sense for each level of geography. Once we've done that we can make the relevant changes to the software.

    We have the feature request in our internal developer database, so it is on our radar. We'll post a message back here once we have things working.

    Thanks again for the feedback. It is very much appreciated.

  3. Comment
    Community Member

    That would be very valuable to be able to retrieve wildcard records for tract/blockgroup by county. I am able to use the API to create cloropleth map by tract for a county with a single API call, but not able to create a cloropleth map at the block or block group level without multiple seperate calls.

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