Alternate Front Ends
Most users will use the ACS Profile Reports Menu application to choose their options (time period, geogrphic areas, sub-profiles) when generating a profile report. But those users who are comfortable with things like URL's and cg-bin apps and techie stuff like that will appreciate the fact that the result of all those menu choices you make can be encapsulated into a custom URL. For example,
on the menu page you should see a link near the top of the page to "Sample Report". If you click on that you will soon see an ACS Profile Report displayed in your browser that has all 4 of the sub-profiles being displayed for 4 different geographic areas (a city, a county containing that city, the state containing that county and the U.S. Totals. Those of you who know what the Address box is on a browser display are instructed to look at what is displayed there when the sample report is being displayed. It looks something like this:
Gobbledy-gook? Perhaps, but not really as bad as it might first appear. The first part
just tells the browser where to find the program ("app" for those of your under30) to be invoked.
This is followed by the "parameter specifications" portion. Each of these "parm-specs" is of the form
where <parmname> means substitute the name of the parameter, such as
geoids and <parm-value> means substitute some value to be associated with that parameter. So the "parm-spec"
is just the secret code needed to tell the application that we want the 2005 to 2009 5-year period data. If the value had been
2009 instead of
2005_2009 then the program would have understood that what was wanted was single year data from 2009. There are 4 parm specs using the same parameter name
geoids. That is how we tell the application that we have 4 geographic areas that we are wanting to see data for. The values of these geoid parameters correspond to the values of the
geographic identifier values stored with the ACS data. The geoid value specifying that we want Columbia, MO is
16000US2915670. Breaking this down: "160" is a summary level code that indicates a Place (city) summary; "00" means that it is not a geographic component summary, while "US" just says it is a United State geogrphic area. "29" is the FIPS state code for Missouri and "15670" is the FIPS/ANSI code for the city of Columbia. It is not all that hard to see the pattern for these IDs.
The point of all this is that these URLs are the kind of thing that web developers can take advantage of to create their own custom menu pages that can lead users to custom profile reports without any need to go through making a series of choices off a menu. It might take 15 or 20 seconds to choose the 4 geographic areas used on our sample report. But someone who wanted to provide comparable reports for all cities of a certain size in a certain state could pretty easily figure out how to generate the URLs to do so and put those on a page with city names as the hyperlinks.
To be continued....