When someone begins typing their birth city on the report form, a list of cities appears. This list of cities is pulled from a database. The plugin also has to get the city’s latitude and longitude coordinates, and the timezone.
The plugin has to get this city information from somewhere. The plugin lets you choose between using GeoNames.org or your own atlas database.
- Using GeoNames.org
If you use GeoNames.org, every time a user enters their birth city, the plugin will get the city information from the GeoNames geographical database via their free web service. The millions of city records are kept on GeoNames.org rather than on your site.
- Using Your Own Atlas Database
If you decide to use your own atlas database, the city information will be taken from your own database on your own website. The plugin will first create a complete atlas database of all cities, towns, and villages on Earth. This is more than 3 million cities. This will eliminate the need for you to use GeoNames.
The following should help you determine which choice is a better fit for you site.
Choose your own atlas database if:
- Your web hosting plan can handle a database larger than 345 MB in size.
- Your site gets a high amount of traffic and you don’t want to deal with GeoNames.org daily usage limits, nor purchase credits for GeoNames Premium Webservices.
- For whatever reason, you don’t want to use GeoNames.org, but rather have the cities in your own database.
- You are fine with having the list the cities appear in English. Currently, the atlas database will be created with the city names in English. (In the future, more languages will be added. You can request a language on this page.)
Choose GeoNames.org if any of these is true:
- You want to list the cities in a language other than English. Currently, the atlas database will be created with the city names in English. (In the future, more languages will be added. You can request a language on this page.)
- Your web hosting does not have the resources to handle a large database of more than 345 MB in size. Or, your web hosting plan cannot handle too many database requests at once.
- You prefer to keep the size of your website on your server as small as possible. In this case, GeoNames is the better choice because they keep the millions of cities on their site.
Technical Information About Your Own Atlas Database
The atlas is about 345 MB in size. It holds over 3.4 million records.
By default, the atlas will be installed in a new table inside your WordPress database. On the other hand, you can install the atlas in a separate database instead of your WordPress database (see how to do this.)
Source of Cities For The Atlas Database
The cities (cities, towns, and villages) are originally taken from the allcountries.zip GeoNames export file available at the GeoNames download server.
This list of all cities from GeoNames is then modified into a data file that is optimized for use with ZodiacPress and WordPress. The result is a data file called cities.txt which we host on Google Cloud.
When you choose to create your own atlas database, this plugin will import the cities.txt data file into a temporary folder on your server. Then, it will insert the cities (more than 3 million cities) into a new database table in your WordPress database. (To install the atlas in a separate database instead of your WordPress database, see this.)