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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.

 

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Locator Style Updates

A built-in feature on all Store Locator Plus products from the free WPSLP downloadable plugin to the fully managed MySLP service is one-click deployment of new interface styles.    Our locator Style Gallery server is updated form time-time-time with new styles you can try as well as tweaks to existing styles.

Today’s Updates

We cleaned up the styling for the hours that are displayed in the results listing , placing them on their own line in the results output.   This update is available to all MySLP and WPSLP users.

Map with hours
Map with hours

 

We also cleaned up the Directory Landing Page for users that employ the directory feature for WPSLP Power.

The change is immediately available to the following locator styles:

Updating Styles

Don’t worry, if you selected a locator style already it will not change even if we update your selected style on our server.   If you want to update your selected style to or latest version you must select a different style from the plugin gallery first, then re-select the style you were using.

Keep in mind that some styles in our Style Gallery will change your locator settings.  The styles that change settings clearly note that they will do so in the description.    Read the descriptions before clicking that “Activate” button.

How To Select A New Style

For MySLP start from Advanced Options in your dashboard.

For WPSLP start from Store Locator Plus on your admin login.

Go to Settings > View

In the Appearance section you will see a list of available styles from our Style Gallery.

Hover over the bottom edge of the “card” showing the style information and click the Select button when it appears.

Selecting A New Locator  Style
Selecting A New Locator Style

How To Update Your Style

Follow the above steps and start by selecting a locator style that you are not currently using.

Follow the above steps and re-select the style you were using originally.  This will re-load the style and the settings from our gallery server.

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Premier 4.9.1 WooCommerce Interface Updates And Other Patches

For our WordPress plugin users the Premier add on has been updated to 4.9.1 today to address several issues.  The WooCommerce interface has been patched to fix a problem for users on non-English sites.    Version 4.9.1 also has been re-tooled to work with PHP 5.3, though you really should be running PHP 5.6 as a minimum.

MySLP Enterprise users will be getting the button bar in our year-end update of MySLP.

Button Bar Category Selector

The new Button Bar category selector, introduced in our previous release, now honors the “hide empty categories” setting.  However, unlike the other category selectors using a drop down selector coming from WordPress Core, our custom button bar interface behaves more along the lines of how we think it should.  With the button bar a category is considered empty only if no locations are attached to that category.

How is that different?  A little more explanation is warranted.

A Button Bar On A Customer Site
A Button Bar On A Customer Site

Hide Empty Categories

This is a setting that is available via the Power addon.  Yes, the Power add on.  I know we are talking about Premier here, but let’s forget about that detail for now.   Premier only adds some new user interfaces to the underlying category features provided by Power.

The Power add on allows you to attach categories to locations, such as “put all these locations in the wholesale category” and “these go in the retail category”.      You can then provide an easy way for users to filter the locations they see on your map by selecting whether they want to see retail or wholesale locations.    The default category selector , if you choose to show it, is a simple drop down menu that shows any categories you’ve added to Store Locator Plus.

Normally ALL categories you’ve created are shown. Even if there are NO locations that exist within the category.   If you have NO wholesale locations and someone picks that from the drop down category selector they see no results.

A long time back we added a “Hide If Empty” option for the category selector.   However there is a big “gotcha”.   It uses the WordPress built-in functionality for category drop downs since we didn’t want to rewrite their huge category drop down menu library.  No need to re-invent the wheel.   BUT this built-in selector has a rather unique way of defining what is an empty category.  For WordPress a category is empty if everything assign to the category is in draft mode.

Draft Mode? What?

Yes, draft mode.   We also did not want to write our own custom category engine.  Actually, to be honest WE DID do that back in Store Locator Plus 1.0.  It was a disaster.  Why recreate something built into WordPress?   Around SLP 3.0 we converted everything to use the WordPress category system.   That system uses a lot of underpinnings from pages and posts.    I think you can see where this is going.

What does that mean for hide empty?

As noted in a little not on the Hide Empty checkbox, this feature ONLY WORKS IF PAGES ARE ENABLED.  Yup, if you are using Hide Empty to not show some things on that category drop down you must ALSO be using Pages ( Enable Pages is under the General tab, BTW).     Not only that but you must change the default to be PUBLISHED instead of draft mode, which creates public SEO friendly pages for every location in your database.

You need to do that because if you don’t the WordPress category drop down creator will consider every page set to draft or private mode to be “unused” , which means those locations are not counted as part of the category.

Yes We Know It Is Not Great

Back when the feature was first written WordPress was back on version 3-something.  Since then they’ve done a LOT of work on custom post types and taxonomies.    It also means we now have some ways to FIX that hide empty thing.   Our first iteration was in the new button bar.

With the Button Bar we can consider a category NOT EMPTY if any locations are assigned to it whether or not pages are in use.  If pages are in use we don’t have to know if they are published or private.   We think it makes a LOT more sense to consider a store category “in use” if it is assigned to a location NOT whether the associated SEO page is public or in draft mode.

So… The Button Bar Hide Empty

If you are using the button bar to show a category selector you can also use hide empty.   Empty means NO LOCATIONS are using that category.

For the other category selectors, like any of the drop down selectors, the old-school “it is empty if pages it not enabled” still applies.  We’re working on fixing that in the Power add on in a future release.