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SLP 4.4 and the new Experience Plug-in bundled add-ons

Experience Plug-in is now available for Purchase

Experience 520x520
The new Experience Plugin will be the way to go to enhance your Store Locator Plus site. It includes the Enhanced Results, Enhanced Map, Enhanced Search and new and improved Widgets pack. Discounts will be available for those customers who bought an Enhanced plugin in the past 60 days and who want to upgrade to the new bundled Experience 4.4. Simply send an email to support, provide your order number, or purchaser name and request a coupon. Currently, active Premier subscribers are automatically signed up for these faster and improved features included in the Experience bundle.

The new features are explained in the below video. The Experience plugin introduces a new feature that will allow you to specify a map region with a short code map_region= on your locator page that will take precedence over the Map domain. It is an enhancement that should come in handy for international customers. The short code uses the country code TLD.

New Widget feature included with the Experience 4.4 Plugin

Another new feature is in the Widgets portion of the Experience Plug-in which allows a secondary drop-down selector with your location’s cities grouped under the state selector.

These features are ONLY available for the New Experience 4.4 subscriber. Documentation will be updated to reflect the way the Experience plugin appears behind the scenes (the back end). Watch this short video from the author for more information.

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2016 Store Locator Plus Add Ons

 2012_NYE_Fireworks_(8331173703) (2)

A lot of things are underway for 2016 that will provide a vastly improved experience for our users and your customers.   Changes will be made to the add-on pack offerings that will simplify the product selection process and eliminate some confusion as to what to buy and what packs complement each other to obtain the best results.  Additionally, negotiations are underway with one of the most-talented WordPress and SaaS development teams in the world to bring a new and improved “Software As A Service” version of Store Locator Plus online.   We will also be expanding our support and technical team in-house at Charleston Software Associates.

Add On Packs

There will be a number of changes designed to simplify the add-on selection process, create a better and stable plug-in environment, reduce redundancy, and simplify our product cycle allowing us to focus on product improvements versus overhead and maintenance.

Legacy Add Ons

Starting in early 2016 , the legacy add-on packs will enter the first transition phase.  The plugins that are selected will only receive bug fixes and security patches going forward.   All of the Charleston Software Associates (Store Locator Plus author) products will be classified as legacy products over the next few months, For example:

  • Contact Extender
  • Directory Builder
  • Enhanced Map
  • Enhanced Results
  • Enhanced Search
  • Pages
  • Pro Pack
  • Tagalong
  • Widget Pack

Customers that have purchased these products will still have access to the downloads and will receive updates whenever a new security patch or bug fix is released.

New Add Ons

When the legacy products enter this transition phase, they will no longer be available as a separate stand alone purchase by new customers.    In their place we will have three core add-on packs in addition to a group of “ala-carte” third party add-on packs available for purchase.    We will be simplifying the add-on pack selection by offering just 3 options, Power Users, Enhanced Experience, and Premier.

Users of the legacy products can opt to retain their prior add-on packs and operate as normal.  However, users that wish to take advantage of the new add-ons, simplifying the installation process will need to purchase them as a new product package.   Once the packages are installed the legacy products can be removed. More details will be available and reminders sent as that date approaches.

Power Users

The forthcoming “Power” package add-on will include all of the features and functionality of the current Pro Pack, Tagalong, Pages, and Contact Extender add-on packs.  The focus of this add-on is the administrative side of location management as well as various features that tend to be utilized by the power user.  As part of this new offering the Pro Pack user-interface-related “Experience / View” setting, which determines the overall layout structure of the Store Locator Plus interface (map on left, right, below search form, etc.) will be moved into the forthcoming Experience add-on.

The Power add-on will be selling for $250 per-site one-time fee.

Experience

The Experience add-on, being released in early 2016, will include all the features of the user-interface-centric features of the various Store Locator Plus legacy add ons.   This new add-on will include the features of Enhanced Map, Enhanced Results, Enhanced Search, and the Widget Pack.   It will also inherit the Experience / View setting from the Pro Pack.    This add-on will also make it far easier to deploy the built-in plugin styles as you will only require one plugin-in to achieve most of the visual updates.

The Experience add-on will be selling for $250 per-site one-time fee.

Premier

Technically now a “new” plugin but one that will carry over from the legacy model to the new model, the Premier add-on will continue to be the flagship plugin where new “never been done before” features are added.    While the Power and Experience add-ons will occasionally see a new feature added, anything that is completely new and introduces more complex features to the product will appear in the Premier add-on.   The Premier add-on is only available to users with a Premier subscription.

Speaking of the Premier Subscription, users with an active subscription will get the new Power and Experience add-ons as soon as they are available and will have access to the prerelease versions of both products.   There are not changes anticipated for the Premier Subscription in 2016.   An exclusive first-response Premier Forum, access to our real-time Slack channels, and access to all plugins and themes crafted by Charleston Software Associates remains in the plan.

The Premier Subscription will retain the current $250 sign-up + $30/month pricing.

Third Party Add Ons

Due to our compensation agreements with third party authors, the third party plugins will remain online in their standard ala-carte form.   These plugins will have a new forum where all 3rd party plugin questions will be answered and supported by both the original author and, as needed, Charleston Software Associates.  The following plugins will remain as ala-carte options:

  • Extended Data Manager
  • Event Location Manager
  • Social Media Extender
  • Gravity Forms Integration
  • Gravity Forms Locations
  • MultiMap

Most third-party add-ons are priced at a $50 one-time fee.

End Of Life Offerings

The following offerings will be going away in 2016.

All Icon Packs will be replaced with a more efficient loading process to be introduced in 2016 and added to the Premier plugin.

The Experience Package is going away.  This will be replaced with the Experience plugin.

The Kitchen Sink Package is going, going, gone as a separate purchase.  Users wishing to get all of the nifty features and more should subscribe to the Premier Subscription as a one-year subscription. It is less than the price of the Kitchen Sink package and provides more benefits.

 

The SaaS Project

Work will begin in earnest on a subscription-based Store Locator Plus service.    This should not be confused with the Premier Subscription.  Purchases and subscribers  of the Premier Subscription will not be automatically enrolled in the SaaS system .   The SaaS (Software As A Service) product will allow companies to sign up via a new website and use a simplified interface for managing their locations and tweaking their user interface.    When everything is ready the user will be given a short JavaScript snippet or iFrame code to place on ANY site, not just WordPress sites.

This new service will look-and-feel much like the Store Locator Plus WordPress plugin with some big visual improvements.   However, users of this system will no longer need to worry about updates to ensure they have the latest version, backing up their locations, moving their installs from a staging to live site, or other management tasks related to maintaining their locator plugin.

Pricing is yet to be determined.   Initial models include a free tier for a handful of locations and $30/month for most sites.

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Store Locator Plus updates to Widgets 4.3.03, Enhanced Search 4.3.02 and Directory Builder 4.3.01

bronze_workers_costa rica

Widgets for SLP Update

The Widget add-on version 4.3.03 tweaks the Search by State Widget to be more intuitive when the map is rendered. In previous versions, when a visitor to your site selected a state from the drop down menu the drop down box within the Enhanced Search form on your map page would continue to reflect the drop down menu for “all of the states” contained in your location database as the default. In Widget Pack 4.3.03 the user “selected state” from the Widget Pack will be the default in the search form on the map page. This is the only change made and is a minor tweak. To see how SLP Widgets works, view the developers short video.

Enhanced Search Update

The latest version of Enhanced Search, 4.3.02, adds some new features and rules to allow for easier customization for styling and UI designers to change the search selector layout with the store locator plus plug-in styles. For more information, view the developer’s short video. Changes:

  • Additional identifiers introduced in the sl div wrap
  • Updated code

Directory Builder Update

Directory Builder version 4.3.01 fixes an issue that was occurring on some sites and producing error messages if the Directory Builder add-on was loaded before SLP was loaded in the call stack. An explanation of this change and how Directory Builder works in general can be viewed in the developer’s short video.

All of the videos contained here are also available for later viewing from the Store Locator Plus Documentation page. A “playlist” menu can be seen in the corner of the video package.

If you have questions regarding these updates, please post in the forums and be sure to provide your Plug-in Environment information and review the Posting Guidelines. Premier members may post in the Premier Support forum. We ask the Premier subscribers to also review the posting guidelines. Thanks for using Store Locator Plus.

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Store Locator Plus Premier Release 4.3.02 Adds New Search and Results Layout and Styling Functions

Store Locator Plus‘ latest release for Premier subscribers adds and enhancement to the results layout functionality and style.

Add Tables in the Results Layout

This new feature allows additional table structure design features with Word Press themes and Store Locator Plus styling, specifically to allow tables without the HTML wrappers that are built into the SLP base plug-in structure. Further discussion and instructions can be found in the 2 minute tutorial video at Premier 4.3.02 Video

Additional functionality in results Layout gives you option to eliminate wrapper
Additional functionality in results Layout gives you option to eliminate wrapper

Add Headers in the Results Layout

Ability to add results headers at the top of each column and allows flexibility in your custom design.

Add Drop down styling in the Search Layout

Adds the ability to change the Drop down style found within the Experience/Search panel using applicable “jquery smooth list themes”.
4.3.08 Pre 4.3.02 Search Drop down style

Also New SLP Plugin Style “Skywalk” coming to premier next. See preview in the following video.

 

Important! For additional details and technical information, please watch the short Tutorial Video on how to use, modify and enhance the users experience using the new features.

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Locator Styles Update SLP 4.3.03

SLP 4.3.03 Genesis Plugin Style

Update 4.3.03 was released for Store Locator Plus today.   The update includes a patch to the plugin styles (formerly known as themes) and simplifies the process of applying those styles.     Shortcodes that were appearing in the results for some plugin styles has been fixed.   The directions link has also been fixed.

Change Log

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Store Locator Plus 4.3 Release Schedule

4.3 RC Status Aug 6 AM

Store Locator Plus 4.3 is expected to be released into production during the week of August 17th along with 4.3 versions of all add-on packs.

4.3 RC Status Aug 6 AM
4.3 RC Status Aug 6 AM

Store Locator Plus is now in Release Candidate status.  You can download the prerelease near-production-ready version from the StoreLocatorPlus.com website.   The prerelease version is available at no cost from the store.  If you’ve already added the prerelease version to your account you can login and download; no need to re-purchase.

Most add-on packs are now in RC status as well.   If you have purchased the production version of an add-on pack you can download the prerelease version by logging in to you StoreLocatorPlus.com account.

The more people that can test version 4.3 of the Store Locator Plus plugin and add-on packs the faster it can be released to production.    Prerelease, including RC versions, of the plugin should not be used on a production system without first testing your environment on a staging (testing) copy of your site.  Companies like WP Engine make creating staging copies of your live site very easy.  If you do not employ staging sites as part of your website management strategy you really should consider switching to a hosting company that supports easy site cloning for testing purposes.

 

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Premium Updates for Store Locator Plus

Several premium add-on packs for Store Locator Plus have been updated this afternoon.   Most updates are minor patches with revised hyperlinks, typo fixes, or language file updates.    The patches bump the version of the add-on packs to ensure that all sites are updated to the latest release due to a series of version control system updates that were not being reported to all users.   The heightened security on one of the CSA servers prevented the version reference file from updating, in turn stopping update notices from getting out to all users.

Directory Builder 4.2.10

A Dutch language file update is included in this release.

Users that missed the 4.2.09 update notice will also get the 4.2.09 feature that allows nonces to be disabled for better SEO performance of the directory listings.

Enhanced Map 4.2.07

Minor updates to the hyperlinks and typo fixes.

Users that missed the 4.2.06 and 4.2.05 update notices will get the new Google JSON Style rules feature for maps as well as the custom map markers patch for per-location map markers.

Enhanced Results 4.2.07

Minor updates for hyperlinks and typo fixes.

Users that missed the 4.2.06 update will laos receive the new popup email formatting and CSS rules set in SLP 4.2.48.

Enhanced Search 4.2.09

Not updated today, this release was pushed to production again to ensure all users get the update.   It includes patches for the state and country dropdown selectors.  Also set autocomplete to not fire until at least 3 characters are entered when “address zip autocomplete” is enabled.   Includes the Dutch translation update.

Widget Pack 4.2.04

No update today.  4.2.04 updates the widget pack to work with Enhanced Results 4.2.06+.

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Locator Enhanced Search Updated

Stainless Search Binoculars 680x317

Enhanced Search , a premium add-on pack for Store Locator Plus, was updated to version 4.2.09 today.  Enhanced Search extends the search interface feature set for the WordPress locator plugin adding elements such as auto-created city, state, and country drop down menus to help guide site visitors to physical business locations.    The patch addresses an issue with the state drop down menu which uses an improved data query in Store Locator Plus version 4.2.58.   The 4.2.09 patch for Enhanced Search ensures the state dropdown is functional with the new improved query.

Enhanced Search 4.2.09 - Locations and State Dropdown
Enhanced Search 4.2.09 – Locations and State Dropdown

Sites employing Enhanced Search should upgrade to Store Locator Plus version 4.2.58 and then upgrade Enhanced Search to version 4.2.09.

Change Log

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Enhanced Search Adds New Form Title Option

Enhanced Search 4.2.08 was released with a new form title option.  Before we get to that we need to mention a patch that addresses an issue for users that have Enhanced Results installed.   If you have a site the sets featured locations to “always show” AND you set Enhanced Search to “ignore radius unless address is used” the location search results were either missing completely or partial lists.    4.2.08 addresses that issue in conjunction with Store Locator Plus 4.2.39.

SLP 4.2.08 Herschel Title Box Change
SLP 4.2.08 Herschel Title Box Change

Now, for the title box feature.  Enhanced Search 4.2.08 has a new “search title box” label that is set.   You may be wondering where and how that text box is rendered.    That particular label is only rendered on some plugin themes, such as the iThemes Herschel NyloBoard theme recently released.   The label text appears in a search box above the search form.   This “magic” is done using the Pro Pack locator layout by using the new [[slp_option nojs=”search_box_title”]] shortcode.    The new shortcode allows a site builder to reference any stored option value including the label text.   A nice feature of this new setting is the text can be manipulated on multilingual sites with plugins like WPML or any plugin that reads and manipulates database-stored text strings.

SLP 4.2.08 Herschel Title Box Setting
SLP 4.2.08 Herschel Title Box Setting

What else is new in Enhanced Search 4.2.08?   Language support for internationalization (i18n) and localization (l10n) has been improved for settings like the city, state, and country label selectors.   The plugin now uses the standard state selector and builder code for creating drop down menus.   The AJAX handler has been updated to use the built-in Store Locator Plus 4.2 add-on framework to reduce code overhead and complexity.

Change Log

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Enhanced Search and SLP Prerelease Patches

Further testing of the upcoming Widget Pack release has uncovered some unusual interactions between various settings with the add-on packs.   A patch has been created for both the Store Locator Plus base plugin (4.2.39) and Enhanced Search (4.2.08) that address several interaction problems.

The SLP 4.2.39 patch creates a more robust SQL query handler for cleaning up rogue HAVING clauses.   The result of this change is that a bug in the data selector for Enhanced Search is repaired automatically by the base plugin.     It turns out that having Enhanced Results “Always Show Featured Locations” enabled AND having Enhanced Search “Ignore Radius Unless Address Is Entered” created a conflicting SQL clause and yielded no locations when used at the same time.

ES 4.2.08 fixes a related problem with removing the distance clauses when Immediately Show Locations is in effect.  It turns out that using the “Ignore Radius Unless..” option would mean the immediately show locations feature would show EVERYTHING because the radius, even though set in the admin panel, was now ignored.

Testing, including new test for this corner-case interaction, is underway.

Formal production releases for both products is expected within 24 hours.

Change Log

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Autocomplete Comes To WordPress Locator

Enhanced Search Banner

Enhanced Search, a premium add-on pack for the Store Locator Plus WordPress locator product, has added zip code autocomplete as a new option.   This feature, sometimes named “quick search”, provides real-time suggestions to users when typing data in an input form.    In addition, the latest release also comes with new settings that allow a site owner to dictate how state drop down lists interact in conjunction with the address/zip input element.

ES 4.2.07 UX Search Features Settings
Enhanced Search 4.2.07 Search Feature settings.

Address Autocomplete

A new setting, Address Autocomplete, can be set to “Zipcode Mode” to provide a zip/postal code suggestion box for users interacting with the locator map on your site.    When a user starts typing a zip  code into the input box, Store Locator Plus will query your current location list and suggest zip codes that are part of your current location list.     This provides a real-time indication to users of the zip codes that you service.

ES 4.2.07 Autocomplete 2-Character Suggestions
ES 4.2.07 Autocomplete 2-Character Suggestions

The autocomplete feature is currently triggered when 2 or more characters are entered.  As the user types more characters the autocomplete list is revised to narrow down potential matches.      The user can select an existing zip code from the suggested list at any time or opt to enter their own zip or postal code.

ES 4.2.07 Autocomplete 3-Character Suggestions
ES 4.2.07 Autocomplete 3-Character Suggestions
ES 4.2.07 Autocomplete Selected Zip Results
ES 4.2.07 Autocomplete Selected Zip ResultsE

The default setting for this feature is “none”, which does not offer the autocomplete service to the user.  It will leave the default user-specific/browser-based autocomplete suggestion list intact.

ES 4.2.07 Autocomplete Settings
ES 4.2.07 Autocomplete Settings

The autocomplete technology has been designed to allow for future expansion to include other address elements such as countries, cities, or other relevant address data.   A generic name-and-address match may also be included in future releases of Enhanced Search.

Selector / Address Input Interaction

In addition to Autocomplete, a second new setting has been added to Enhanced Search.    The Selector Behavior settings impacts how the city, state, and country drop down selectors interact with the address input box.

ES 4.2.07 Zip Entered With State Selector Unused
ES 4.2.07 Zip Entered With State Selector Unused

The default setting, which is how things have worked in the past, allows a user to BOTH enter a zip code AND select a state.    In this “Allow Selector and Address Input” mode you could have someone enter a Massachusetts zip code like 01886 AND select the state “CA” from the drop down (operating in discrete filter mode) and end up with ZERO results even though you have locations in MA and CA.

The new Selector Behavior setting “Disable Address When Using Selector” prevents the user from setting BOTH an address/zip code AND selecting a state (or city or country) from the drop down.     When the user has typed an address and then clicks on the state selector, for example,  the address field is cleared.     The same happens in reverse, if the user selects a state then clicks on the address input the state selector is cleared.     To help abate user frustration, the values are saved and restored whenever this happens.

ES 4.2.07 "Either Or" Mode Resets Address When State Selected
ES 4.2.07 “Either Or” Mode Resets Address When State Selected

 

For example, if  the user enters “29464” in the address field then clicks on the state drop down the address field is cleared.   They then click back on the address field and the 29464 value is restored.   Same idea, in reverse, if you select a state first then enter an address then click back on the state.      The concept is to prevent a user from interacting with BOTH input elements.     This is an atypical behavior and thus you should have some type of message added to your custom search layout to warn the users how this works “Please enter a zip code OR pick a state, you cannot do both:”.

ES 4.2.07 Zip Restored When Re-clicking Address
ES 4.2.07 Zip Restored When Re-clicking Address
ES 4.2.07 List of MA Locations with State Selector set to Discrete mode
ES 4.2.07 List of MA Locations with State Selector set to Discrete mode

Other Changes

Other, less drastic, updates were also included in this patch.   Having radius selections such as 0.5 miles has been fixed.   A custom userinterface.js script is now employed and can be used to craft custom form interactions with JavaScript (make sure you back up any custom edits so you can restore after an update).

The admin interface for Enhanced Search now changes the admin selector labels and Search Labels labels (that reads oddly, but hey… I’m a code geek not an English major) to match your field labels presented to the user.   For example, change the label for City to “Town” and the admin interface for the Store Locator Plus User Experience will now read “Town Selector” and “Town Selector Label” and “Town Selector First Entry”.     It is  one small step toward making all of the locator fields malleable; allowing site owners to re-purpose something like a country field they may never use to some other geographic-specific element such as a region.

ES 4.2.07 Admin Labels Change When UI Labels Changed
ES 4.2.07 Admin Labels Change When UI Labels Changed

The screen captures on this post are from the iThemes Herschel WordPress Theme using the new SLP 4.2.35 plugin theme Twenty Fifteen Rev 02.   No layout or settings modifications have been made for these screenshots.

Change Log

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Enhanced Search Patch Fixes Locator 4.2.21 Glitch

A hot fix to Enhanced Search for Store Locator Plus addresses a problem that was introduced during a bug fix deployed in Store Locator Plus 4.2.21.

Store Locator Plus 4.2.22 Radius Setting
Store Locator Plus 4.2.22 Radius Setting

The SLP 4.2.21 release addressed a bug that was not allowing site administrators to set a radius with decimal entries such as 0.5 miles.  In today’s hyper-local web and mobile applications these short-range distances are being utilized more frequently.    Prior to the Store Locator Plus 4.2.21 patch the decimal point was dropped, turning 0.5 miles into 5 miles.

Directory Builder 4.2.09 General Settings
Directory Builder 4.2.09 General Settings

Version 4.2.21 fixed that issue but caused a new problem in Enhanced Search as a behind-the-scenes formatting string was changed from %d to %f.

Enhanced Search version 4.2.05 was put into production earlier today to resolve the issue.

Enhanced Search Change Log

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Swedish Translations for Add Ons

Several add-on packs have been updated today with the Swedish language translation thanks to Piani Sweden AB. The updates are available now to any users that has purchased the add-ons.

Enhanced Map 4.2.03

Enhanced Search 4.2.04

Pro Pack 4.2.02

The Swedish language pack will also be part of the next Enhanced Results and Store Locator Plus releases when they are released later this month.

The Change Logs

Enhanced Map

Enhanced Search

Pro Pack

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Discrete State Search Behavior and Ignore Radius

Enhanced Search Banner

Here is a discussion with a customer that was having issues with the locator not behaving as he expected.  He is using Enhanced Search to show a state selector, hiding the radius box, and using Tagalong categories to help filter results between a “jobs” and “schools” listing of locations.    Here is a discussion about how the Store Locator Plus settings impact the state selector behavior.

 

Here is how SLP works by default:
Return all locations within X miles of the entered address.
X is the radius the user selects.  When the map is first loaded it uses the default radius under User Experience / Search Form / Radii Options (the radius in parenthesis) if Immediately Show Results is turned on (this is the default).
When the map is first loaded the “entered address” is either Coffeyville Kansas (don’t ask – that is just where Google decides the center of America is and thus defaults to that)   OR  the address you entered under User Experience / Center Map At.
On the initial map load this means it will show all locations within 500 miles of the center of America (Coffeyville).
How SLP works when you add Enhanced Search “search by state” and turn on “Discrete Mode”:
By default discrete mode adds a filter to the searches where it appends a “only if in the selected state”, CA for example, to the search.
Given the above default behavior, if you turn on the State Search selector and set it to discrete search you can get some unexpected results.     If the user leaves the address box blank, or you disable “address input” so they cannot enter and address, they select a state such as CA and leave the radius drop down at 500 miles you end up with a search that says “Show me all locations in CA that are within 500 miles of Coffeyville”.    You get no results.
SLP 4.2 UI Search with State Selector
SLP 4.2 UI Search with State Selector
How To “Fix” Discrete Mode
Recently Enhanced Search was updated to add a new “Radius Behavior” option under User Experience / Search Form.    There is an option to “Ignore radius unless address entered”.     With this option selected the above search will work as anticipated.    When the address is left blank, or address input is hidden, the search will ignore the radius option.      The user selects CA from the drop down and regardless of what the radius is set to it is ignored (address input is blank at this point).   The search now becomes “Show me all locations in CA that are within ANY DISTANCE of Coffeyville”.    This will return all locations in CA.
SLP 4.2 UX Search Form
SLP 4.2 UX Search Form
Why not automate the discrete search?
Good question.    The new “ignore unless address is blank” option just came online.    The coding was not in place to automatically do this until a few weeks ago.      Going forward some consideration needs to be made for automatically going into this “ignore radius” mode when the address is blank and a state (or city or country) is selected.
However, there always seems to be some caveat to doing this.     Someone will inevitably complain that “something has changed” when opting to be “smarter” about how the feature works.    With 45,000+ sites using the product changing how things “behaved yesterday” when coming out with a new patch is something that mandates extra consideration.
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Enhanced Search 4.2.03 Update Available

Search Binnoculars Photo Banner

Enhanced Search for Store Locator Plus has been updated to version 4.2.03.   This is a minor patch that fixes the General Settings tab save options feature.   Version 4.2.03 of Enhanced Search is available to all Premier Members and customers that purchased the Enhanced Search add-on pack.

Enhanced Search Admin Settings 4.2.03
Enhanced Search Admin Settings 4.2.03

Enhanced Search Changelog