Frequently asked questions about MAF

  1. What is MAF?
  2. How can MAF help me?
  3. How does MAF work?
  4. Is MAF the Census Bureau MAF?
  5. Will MAF find duplicates in my address list?
  6. What's the best database or program for maintaining address lists?
  7. How long does it take to automatically process my address list?
  8. How many addresses can I process?
  9. What if I don't want to reveal the addresses I'm scrubbing?
  10. Can my programs directly access the MAF database files?
  11. Does the MAF database include private information for addresses?
  12. What if my address lists contain errors?
  13. How long has MAF been available?
  14. Can MAF distinguish between residence and business addresses?
  15. Can I use MAF on more than one computer?
  16. Can I let people access MAF via my web site?
  17. Can I include MAF processing in a product I am selling?
  18. Can I use MAF to process data for my clients or to produce data or services?
  19. What platforms does MAF run on?
  20. How do I get MAF and what does it cost?
  21. What if I have a question not answered above?

1. What is MAF? MAF, the Master Address File, is software and databases that together provide a powerful tool for automatically standardizing, validating, and geocoding addresses in the United States.

2. How can MAF help me? MAF corrects and standardizes addresses, so you can confirm and validate addresses, avoid undeliverable addresses, and easily find duplicates within your list.

3. How does MAF work? MAF can be used three different ways:

In batch mode, MAF can process a database of any size, automatically correcting and standardizing every address in the file. MAF can process address lists in dBase, Access, Excel, Oracle, SQL Server, fixed-field text, delimited text, and other file formats.

Any program can also pass addresses directly to MAF's interface, and MAF will pass the corrected and standardized address records back to the program, so any database or application can be given built-in interactive address correction capabilities. MAF includes templates and demo programs with source code showing how to send and receive address records from a variety of popular programming environments.

MAF also provides an excellent user interface. To manually find an individual address, just type in a name to make MAF instantly find a city or street. Or, click on a state listed in MAF's first window, and MAF immediately displays all the state's cities in an adjacent window. Click on a city, and MAF instantly lists every street in that city. Click on a street, and MAF displays the house and apartment numbers on that street, along with their latitude, longitude, and other data.

4. Is MAF the Census Bureau MAF? No, the maf.directory MAF is not the Census Bureau MAF, which is confidential. Note that many cities, counties, states, and other government organizations maintain their own file called the "master address file", which has become a generic term.

5. Will MAF find duplicates in my address list? Yes, MAF includes "duplicate detector" tools for finding and marking or deleting duplicates within an address list. Note that once you use MAF to scrub your address list, non-standard addresses are automatically converted to the same form, and just about any database can then easily find duplicates.

6. What's the best database or program for maintaining address lists? Our users prefer many, many different brands of software for maintaining their address lists, and each user has different reasons for preferring the system they use. MAF is designed to be a convenient address correction tool regardless of where an address list is actually stored.

7. How long does it take to automatically process my address list? Processing speed mostly depends on the transmission time between your computer and MAF servers. However, MAF minimizes latency by processing bursts of compressed addresses and can also make multiple simultaneous connections for overlapped processing. The standard benchmark for MAF's fastest correction tool is to process one million addresses in ten minutes on a relatively slow one megabit per second connection.

8. How many addresses can I process? You can process any quantity at any frequency, as fast as your network will allow. There are no caps or limits.

9. What if I don't want to reveal the addresses I'm scrubbing? MAF tools only transmit addresses, and it's highly likely the addresses are already known on MAF servers. Any other data in your records such as names or phone numbers are never included in transactions. All transmissions with MAF servers are encrypted. If you don't wish to rely on the MAF address correction engine, you can export the database to your own machine and do your own lookups. Or, your lookup code can search the MAF database by calling the MAF interface.

10. Can my programs directly access the MAF database files? Your applications can access arbitrary database records through MAF's programming interfaces. You can also use a dialog to export any city, state, or ZIP Code range of the database to a text file, if you want to directly manipulate the data yourself.

11. Does the MAF database include personal or company names, email addresses, phone numbers, or other private information for addresses? No.

12. What if my address lists contain errors? MAF will detect address errors and automatically correct most of them, including spelling errors and dozens of other kinds of errors. For any address that can't be automatically corrected, MAF will assign applicable error codes, which can be saved in the database you're updating.

13. How long has MAF been available? MAF is derived from ZP4, which began shipping in 1990, which superseded five-digit ZIP databases, which shipped in 1989. Product development began in January 1982. This table compares ZP4 and MAF.

14. Can MAF distinguish between residence and business addresses? Yes.

15. Can I use MAF on more than one computer? Yes, you can install and use MAF on as many machines as you like, anywhere you like.

16. Can I let people access MAF via my web site? Yes.

17. Can I include MAF processing in a product I am selling? Yes.

18. Can I use MAF to process data for my clients or to produce data or services? Yes.

19. What platforms does MAF run on? Windows. The only hardware requirement is a network connection.

20. How do I get MAF and what does it cost? MAF is free. Simply request a password to begin using MAF.

21. What if I have a question not answered above? Contact us at help@maf.directory


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