This guide is for system administrators who plan to deploy AFD Postcode Evolution Server for the Windows platform. It details the installation and configuration options available to enable customisation of the service, and also provides information to assist the upgrade of existing AFD Postcode Everywhere installations.
This document contains new terms specific to this product or service. These terms are explained in the Glossary section.
Existing users of AFD Postcode Everywhere must read the full guide to ensure upgrade compatibility, however, new AFD Postcode Evolution users who do not have Postcode Everywhere can follow these simple steps:
The AFD Postcode Evolution Server is a flexible new solution provided by AFD Software that allows access to a variety of data-sets, including Postcode Plus address data, BankFinder information for UK and Republic of Ireland Banks, and Names & Numbers edited electoral roll information.
The service is designed to be installed on servers providing data to network clients, or multi-user applications running directly on the server through a HTTP/XML interface.
The most up to date version of the AFD Postcode Evolution installer is available for download here. It requires an operating system capable of running Windows services, i.e. (Windows Server 2012 / 2016 / 2019). The installation includes Postcode Plus and BankFinder address and Bank data, although access to each of these data- sets is controlled through a data licence. Additional data not included in the standard installer can be provided by AFD as an additional installation.
Important: If installing on a server with an existing installation of AFD Postcode Everywhere or an existing DLL integration with AFD software, please pay special attention to the following section titled Ensuring Compatibility with Existing Integrations. The installer prompts for a location where Postcode Evolution should be installed (default is C:\Program Files\Postcode Evolution\ ). When complete, the installer will run the Postcode Evolution (PCE) Management program where licence details can be added, and the port number for the service can be configured.
If the port number shown in the PCE Management program does not conflict with any existing services, use the Start button to start the service listening on that port.
Once provided with valid licence details, the PCE Management program on the server will need to connect to the Internet and establish a connection with the AFD Postcode Evolution Network (hereby referred to as PCE Network) for activation. See the section Configuring the Service for more information.
Automatic updates are configured as standard when installing Evolution. In order to amend these, open the Management Console and select the Configure button to open the Auto Updates window. Select your preferred option to download updates and click on Apply to confirm changes.
If you select the option for ‘No automatic updates’, then you can trigger an update by clicking on the Check For Updates Now button.
The AFD Postcode Evolution Server can be used as a replacement solution to the Postcode Everywhere XML service, as well as direct integration with our Windows DLLs.
In order to avoid or minimise any disruption to existing applications using either of these two legacy integration methods, the Postcode Evolution Server has been designed to be backwards compatible. This means that, with minimal configuration and setup, existing applications using either the Postcode Everywhere XML interface or Windows DLL interface do not need to be altered and can continue to work with Postcode Evolution. Please read the following section relevant to the integration method in use by the application.
The AFD Postcode Evolution Server is based on Postcode Everywhere technology and is therefore a direct replacement service, and compatible with existing applications that have been designed for Postcode Everywhere.
It is recommended that the existing Postcode Everywhere service is stopped and disabled in the Windows Services Control panel prior to installation so that there is no conflict between the two services.
Applications designed for the existing Postcode Everywhere service will send requests to Postcode Everywhere on a specific port number. The new Postcode Evolution service should therefore be set to listen on the same port number to avoid having to modify application code. By default, both Postcode Everywhere and Postcode Evolution will be installed on port 81, however, if Postcode Everywhere has been set to listen on a different port, the PCE Management program for Postcode Evolution can be used to change the port number to match that of the Postcode Everywhere port.
Another important feature of the PCE Management program is the ability to set a default serial number for the service. Unlike Postcode Everywhere, the new Postcode Evolution Server requires a serial number and password presented on every query in order to return data.
The Change Default button will prompt for a serial number and password to be used as the default serial number for the service. This is crucial to support any legacy applications designed for Postcode Everywhere, which it does by appending the default serial number and password to any queries sent to the service which do not have a serial number in the request.
Since this sets the default serial number this feature cannot be used for multiple serial numbers on the same server, so it is always preferable to have the serial number and password supplied by the application itself. This option should only be used if existing applications rely on Postcode Everywhere and cannot be amended, new applications should not set this value.
The Windows DLL interface for Postcode Plus based products is provided through either a native library called PCPV232.DLL or a COM / ActiveX library called PCPINETX.DLL . To provide backwards compatibility with these DLLs, the Postcode Evolution Server supports an additional legacy compatibility layer which is provided as a separate installation.
The AFD Postcode Evolution Legacy installer can be downloaded here along with the installation program for the AFD Postcode Evolution Server.
To ensure the compatibility system is set up correctly, please carefully follow the installations procedure below:
The installation may request a restart of the server. If the application is written in .NET and uses the COM / ActiveX DLL, the application will need to rereference the PCPINETX.DLL component and be re-compiled due to .NET interoperability requirements.
If there is any uncertainty regarding the integration method being used, or any of the above installation instructions, please contact AFD Support for assistance.
The AFD Postcode Evolution Server runs as a Windows Service called AFD Postcode Evolution Server , which can be configured using the PCE Management program. This program will automatically run following installation, however, this can also be run from the Postcode Evolution program group in the Start menu.
The PCE Management program is used to allocate a serial number held on the PCE Network. Serial numbers are allocated using the Add New Serial Number button, allowing entry of the Serial Number and Access Password, which are provided on the Licence Certificate.
This will contact PCE Network and validate the authentication details before updating the active serial number list. Each server requires an available Server Slot on the PCE Network. If the program returns the message No Free Server Slot when first adding a serial number, please contact AFD to discuss additional servers, or initial server setup.
The PCE Management program will confirm if the serial number has been added successfully, and will then display the licence information for that serial number, as demonstrated in the image:
Once a serial number has been successfully added, the AFD Postcode Evolution Server will immediately synchronise with the PCE Network over the Internet in order to obtain licence information, including an initial credit allocation where appropriate.
The Postcode Evolution Server registers the Server Identity (a unique code that defines a physical server) with the PCE Network, whilst at the same time reserving a server slot. Each physical server can hold multiple serial numbers to allow different operation modes to be implemented on the same physical server.
The Postcode Evolution Service supports two different modes of licence operation, Pay-per-click mode and Unlimited mode.
Data-sets available for use with this mode of operation require the server to have credits available in order for data to be returned. In this mode, the Postcode Evolution Server installed on the server contacts the PCE Network and, subject to available Credit, downloads a number of credits to the local server.
These credits are allocated individually per serial number, meaning that individual servers and serial numbers can be set to obtain different quantities of credit whenever they synchronise with the PCE Network. This feature is useful if implementing both a Production and Development server, for example. Please contact AFD Support if custom credit quantities are a requirement.
The installed AFD Postcode Evolution Server holds a local credit pool which is topped up with credits from the PCE Network. These credits are downloaded (as required) from an AFD server whenever synchronisation occurs, and requests made to the service consume these credits locally. Therefore the only contact with PCE Network is when a synchronisation has been initiated, either manually from within the PCE Management program, according to a pre-determined schedule or because the number of credits has dropped to a certain minimum level (see Synchronisation Settings below).
Data-sets available in Unlimited mode do not require credits (either on the PCE Network, or the local server) in order to return data. Requests to the server are logged by the system and transaction logs are synchronised to the PCE Network regularly.
The synchronisation is controlled by four settings, which are primarily concerned when the service is used in Pay-per-click mode, although the Synchronisation Frequency is applicable in both operational modes.
Contact AFD Support if there is a requirement to change to non-default values of these settings.
The Postcode Evolution Server includes a status function that is intended as a way to check the server is accessible. The status function returns an OK message when accessed. It is useful when used by a server monitoring program as it will not consume credits.
The status function can be accessed at the following location on the server:
Existing applications can be used to test the service is operational, but for new application integrations we recommend developers use the Common API Software Development Kit (SDK) to create an example application for testing. The Common API SDK is available at https://www.afd.co.uk/api-wizard.
The SDK includes a programming manual for the Common API, as well as a code generator application, which can create sample code or projects in many common development languages and environments to demonstrate the core API functionality.
The XML development method option within the code generator application will require the serial number and password from the Licence Certificate and the location of the local Postcode Evolution Server, e.g.:
If there are any problems testing or integrating with the server, contact AFD Support at email@example.com or on 01624 811712.