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Google API Key Changes Coming June 11 2018

Store Locator Plus for WordPress requires the user of the plug-in to obtain their own Google Map API key as described in our Getting Started Guide.  

Google has revamped its Google Maps API developer platform. With the changes to the way Google is handling the API keys, this may be a good time to rethink the overall management of your location services.  The MySLP SaaS platform takes care of all that for you.  You only need  to  embed the JavaScript code that MySLP provides when you sign up.

 

Previous Guidance from Google

In 2016 Google announced changes that required all new domains to obtain an API key to use the Google Map, Geocoding, or Geolocation services.  At that time they announced all sites who were up and running prior to June 22 , 2016 were grandfathered  and wouldn’t need a key.  Next, Google announced Location Aware functionality would only be available to sites that were secure i.e. HTTPS.   As a result ,  many site administrators in the community  updated or migrated their protocol from HTTP to HTTPS.  Not an easy undertaking.

Current Requirements

Fast forward to the date  June 11, 2018.  Announcements have been made by Google (see FAQ  and Google Map APIS Terms of Service ) specifying , ALL sites  will now require not only a valid API key regardless of whether you have a new domain or one that is years old.  In addition, a billing account must be associated with the API key and the methodology of calculating quotas will change. The below synopsis is a guide. Please review the information in the links for details as they apply to you.

Please note, if you are obtaining a new Google MAP API key, do NOT add restrictions to your referrers. The way SLP is currently coded does not allow for restrictions.

If you already have an API key

  1. Visit the Google Existing Users Guide and click on the Transition Tool
  2. You will be prompted to enter your user account information. (The email account you used when you opened your Project to obtain your API key.)
  3. The Google Maps Platform will show you the Projects and Status with an Add Billing ButtonTo understand your current usage, set up billing alerts and more, visit the new Google Cloud Platform Console

At this stage, if you click on the link titled “Google Cloud Platform Console” while in your account you will see the data usage history for your account . The screenshot provided below is for a new Test Project API that has not been deployed, therefore there will be no data displayed.

 

WordPress Store Locator Plus Community

WordPress Store Locator Plus users (including Premier members) must update their Google Projects / Map API key and add a billing account as of June 11, 2018.  Your billing information will NOT be passed on to the Store Locator Plus team.

My Store Locator Plus Users

MySLP Subscribers will not need to take any action  since we manage that service for you.   To ensure you receive timely information please subscribe to the News feed.   Questions should be posted in the WPSLP forums.  

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Map attributes have been extended in 4.9.7

map attributes - a global map with markers

Store Locator Plus 4.9.7 “map attributes” update was released today for our WordPress users. The update is still in testing for MySLP users — some of the patches in this release are a direct result of the testing before integrating into our managed service. The updated release will be on the MySLP platform soon but will have limited impact on those users.

More shortcode map attributes for WordPress users

The [slplus] processor in the core plugin has been updated to allow more map attributes to be set.  This update allows ALL options that have been migrated to the new Smart Options architecture (80% of all SLP settings at this point) to be used as an attribute. This greatly improves the ability to create custom maps on a per-page basis with settings that vary from the general “system wide” settings that come from the Store Locator Plus > Settings tab.

You can find the current list of supported attributes here:
https://docs.storelocatorplus.com/blog/slplus-shortcode-options/

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Location position and accuracy

Have you ever checked the accuracy of your location marker compared to where it appears on the widely used google maps application?  If you do,  you may notice that the latitude and longitude and position of your marker is not exactly the same as where it appears in the Google Map.

The exact location marker on your map may be slightly off by a few feet or meters from the actual location shown in the Google Maps App. Both are using Geocoding  (the process of converting addresses into geographic coordinates (latitude and longitude), which you can use to place markers on a map, or position the map, so why the difference?

Zooming in on the Google Map site will reflect changes to the lat/long slightly  I found this to be so when I noticed those automatic Google icons populating my map.  Premier  or MySLP/Enterprise subscribers can check off the setting to render those Google icons”non-clickable” but what if you have a business listed at the same exact address or  possibly the same exact business as a Google icon?  I discovered when I clicked on the Google Map  icon and opened it in the browser independently  from  my site, it returned a different latitude and longitude.   I  then tried  to match their coordinates by updating my location address with the same lat/long that appeared in the browser.  To my surprise it moved my location further away then the initial coordinates.

As I  resolved to have my location marker override the Google icon , I decided to use a different map service to see if it would return a different geocoded coordinate.  Using “Bing Maps” I could see yet another latitude/longitude, granted they were all very close to each other , but this one was closer to the commercial Google Maps result.  I found it  zoomed in  closer on the marker then the commercial Google Maps did. Apparently they do not have the ad and marketing presence that Google has built into their maps. They want to show you as many ads and icons on their map as possible, so perhaps they cast a wider net and just get you close enough. Makes sense.

Back to Google Maps. Having surmised this may be a built in quirk for marketing,  I zoomed in on the location.  Sure enough,  a new set of coordinates appeared.   Once I had zoomed in as much as I could on the Google Maps icon I copied the new set of latitude/longitude coordinates and pasted those into my  location field in Store Locator Plus.    Viewing the map on the front end of my site proved my theory was  correct.  I achieved my goal.  With the exact same coordinates , my icon now appears instead of the google centric, auto icon that they had imposed.

Although this may not be an undertaking  you wish to venture  on if  you have a hundred locations sparsely located in a large region, I found this to be an effective way to force my icon to appear instead of one imposed on me by Google. I also came to the realization that even having an exact address in a third party app would not return the exact coordinates.