Convert Address to New Format

Discussions around using and interfacing with the Church MLS program.
psnarula
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Convert Address to New Format

Postby psnarula » Tue Dec 29, 2009 3:39 pm

I just installed MLS 3.1.2 on my home computer and loaded up the test data. I want to change a household address but the computer says something about converting address to a new format. What's going on? (See attachments).
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aebrown
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Postby aebrown » Tue Dec 29, 2009 3:54 pm

psnarula wrote:I just installed MLS 3.1.2 on my home computer and loaded up the test data. I want to change a household address but the computer says something about converting address to a new format. What's going on? (See attachments).


The addresses in the test data are in a raw format that I believe was implemented to support the conversion from addresses as they were formatted in MIS many years ago. That format simply had multiple address lines, and did not have separate fields for state/province, country, postal code, etc.

Because this old address format doesn't identify those specific address components, MLS creates an Urgent Task reminding you to convert the addresses. If you click on that Urgent Task, MLS will put you in a wizard that helps you convert the addresses to the new format. MLS will attempt to put the information in the correct specific fields, and you can confirm those choices, or manually correct them.

As I recall, about 2/3 of the addresses are analyzed properly, so a single confirmation click is all that is needed to convert those addresses to the new format. For others, the city will end up in the state field, or other similar errors; you have to make some manual changes before you confirm the new format in those cases. Until you convert to the new format, you can't update addresses, and most reports that include addresses will simply show "Unformatted Address".

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Postby JamesAnderson » Tue Dec 29, 2009 6:18 pm

Are any of the issues related to the way address fields are laid out in Germany? I've seen how this works, they put the postal code prior to the city, the reverse of how the US users would do it. I would assume that MLS would account for differences between formats for addresses and their variants from country to country.

Years ago at Sears Home Central, we relied on a central database of name/address information and it would come up when we typed in the customer's phone number. Most addresses took, but we found at times it would not properly show local variations in address formats. The city/state/zip fields were all standard, but the street addresses would sometimes be the issue. Once we got an address in its proper format, often the US zip+4 info would then prefill correctly, otherwise it would not.

Examples:

Texas 'farm roads'.

Correct
704 FM 2203

Incorrect, frequently had to be corrected as the software would not recognize the below example to prefill zip+4 data, ditto for the NYC example below.

704 Farm/Market 2203

Other oddities for Texas

253 SH 70
(state highway)

1405 IH 45 South
('IH' = Interstate Highway, most however would use 'I-45' in lieu of the state designation).

NYC hyphenated addresses, this was the biggest headache.

113-41 17th Street.

That worked OK with Coachella Valley addresses in California, however, most addresses there now have done away with the hyphens from what I've heard.

The software would not recognize common Utah addresses involving the number system, even after Indiana started using something similar to replace rural routes.

New areas in larger localities would often not update properly until the database provider added the proper details to the database that would allow it to.

Is this type of a software issue involved as well? I would think that at least in the US they would use USPS address format guidelines, but is there anything that is helpful in non-US areas?

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aebrown
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Postby aebrown » Tue Dec 29, 2009 7:14 pm

JamesAnderson wrote:Are any of the issues related to the way address fields are laid out in Germany?


An unformatted address is an unformatted address. The issue raised with the test data has nothing to do with country-specific address formats.

However, MLS does have the ability to have different address formats that can be specified by the area office. In fact, the test data has a format different from the standard US format. I don't know just how much flexibility there is, but it certainly can control the order of postal code, state/province, and country fields.

psnarula
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Postby psnarula » Wed Dec 30, 2009 1:39 pm

Alan_Brown wrote:As I recall, about 2/3 of the addresses are analyzed properly, so a single confirmation click is all that is needed to convert those addresses to the new format. For others, the city will end up in the state field, or other similar errors; you have to make some manual changes before you confirm the new format in those cases. Until you convert to the new format, you can't update addresses, and most reports that include addresses will simply show "Unformatted Address".


Yes, this was all correct. So now that I have done this, I am hoping it is one-time-work. I have MLS 3.1.2 right now. When I upgrade to 3.1.4 (released today, as promised), I won't have to wipe away all of my changes and start over, right? The upgrade process at home should be just like at church -- the contents of the database doesn't get blown away by a software update...

psnarula
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Postby psnarula » Wed Dec 30, 2009 1:40 pm

Alan_Brown wrote:An unformatted address is an unformatted address. The issue raised with the test data has nothing to do with country-specific address formats.

However, MLS does have the ability to have different address formats that can be specified by the area office. In fact, the test data has a format different from the standard US format. I don't know just how much flexibility there is, but it certainly can control the order of postal code, state/province, and country fields.


How does the test data differ from the standard US format?

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Postby russellhltn » Wed Dec 30, 2009 1:43 pm

psnarula wrote:When I upgrade to 3.1.4 (released today, as promised), I won't have to wipe away all of my changes and start over, right? The upgrade process at home should be just like at church -- the contents of the database doesn't get blown away by a software update...


Correct. As long as you don't re-install the test unit, it will carry forward.

However, some of the financial data is dated for the current year. So come 2010, you'll have no transactions unless you create some or you re-install the unit.
Have you searched the Wiki?
Try using a Google search by adding "site:tech.lds.org/wiki" to the search criteria.

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aebrown
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Postby aebrown » Wed Dec 30, 2009 1:53 pm

psnarula wrote:How does the test data differ from the standard US format?


I was relying on past experience. The locale options for the test data were different once upon a time, but I see that on a fresh install, the local options for the test data are the same as the standard US format.

So you can ignore that comment of mine.

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Postby RossEvans » Wed Dec 30, 2009 2:32 pm

Mostly as a matter of wishing and hoping, MLS is the right place to put true address standardization and validation, which obviously would be locale-specific and would require user confirmation.

I think the current Urgent Task popup is a good model to adapt for the user interface of such enhanced functionality.

psnarula
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Postby psnarula » Wed Dec 30, 2009 3:19 pm

JamesAnderson wrote:Are any of the issues related to the way address fields are laid out in Germany? I've seen how this works, they put the postal code prior to the city, the reverse of how the US users would do it. I would assume that MLS would account for differences between formats for addresses and their variants from country to country...

I would think that at least in the US they would use USPS address format guidelines, but is there anything that is helpful in non-US areas?


Largely we are okay. I think. I know that Google Maps doesn't have any problems with German addresses that have the postal code listed before the city.

I guess I do not really know if there will be problems down the road because all of our addresses are currently in a format that needs to be changed. I do not expect to have much time to work on this until the quarterly report and ward history are done in mid-January. I described our situation with addresses in an earlier post:

http://tech.lds.org/forum/showthread.php?p=37491#post37491

The only real problem that I have run across in my testing at home is that the mailing address does not let me put "AE" as the state (see attached screenshot). There must be a way around this because the note seems to imply that a Stake Clerk could resolve this problem. Further, I see in CDOL that a member of the stake presidency has a mailing address that has the following city, state, and zip code:

APO, AE, 09xxx

I'm not sure how they made this happen. Does MLS allow custom States? When I put the country as "United States" (after all, an APO box has a US-based zip code), there is no option to make the state AE. I may have to call the ward clerk in that unit to see what they are doing. I could always just put NY as the state since this is an acceptable substitute but I would prefer to not do this if I don't have to.

Is there a way to fix this with the test data? What about in production?
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