What’s Baking? Updates for SLP, Power, Experience, Premier

Store Locator Plus updates are ready to roll out for May  2017.   The updates will first come to the WordPress plugins.   MySLP will be updated in the next 3-4 weeks pending testing.   Here is what is coming in this series of updates.

Store Locator Plus

The base plugin that impacts all levels of MySLP service and the Store Locator Plus application stack.

Various updates have been made to allow the Style Gallery to better support additional user experience modifiers available in the Experience and Premier Add On packs.   For example the base plugin now has a Search Form Styles selection that provides access to built-in jQuery styling that makes things like drop down menus and autocomplete features look a little nicer.

The Default style in the Style Gallery has been updated.  You do not need to update the base plugin to take advantage of this update.  If you are already using the Default style select a different style from the Settings / View tab in Store Locator Plus (start with Advaned Options in MySLP) and switch it back to Default to pull the new style from the Style Gallery server.    If you have SLP 4.7.10 it will take advantage of some new HTML attributes to better style the search form layout, especially when dropping labels in front of some input fields on the locator.
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Power Add On 4.7.10 Patches Categories

Version 4.7.10 of the Power Add On for Store Locator Plus was released today to patch an issue with recording new category assignments for locations.    Version 4.7.9 introduced an issue that broke the mapping between locations and new category assignments.

If you have existing locations that “lost their categories” you will need to re-assign the categories.    For most installations you can edit each location via the admin edit page for the location; the location categories should appear as being checked.  Saving the location will re-assign the proper category numbers to the category mapping table.

We have also revised our test suites to ensure the category tests are properly included in the Power Add On testing process.  We are not certain why the testing scripts became disconnected from our Power Add On Test Suite but we have rebuilt the suite to reduce the chances of an issue like this from happening in the future.

MySLP users, other than those on the Advanced level which does not include category features, have already received the patched files.     Users of our WordPress add on should update the Power Add On before working with location categories.

MySLP Service Is Getting Stripe – Downtime May 16th 2017

The My Store Locator Plus subscription service is ready for Stripe.   Stripe provides better coupon management, account upgrade and downgrade prorated fees, and direct credit card billing.    During our testing we have also found that subscription changes are instantaneous which eliminates the “in limbo” state that was problematic with some PayPal accounts.

All new accounts will go through Stripe.    Pre-existing accounts that wish to switch to Stripe can contact us to assist with changing their processor to Stripe after they cancel their PayPal subscription.   We will make sure all account data and settings remain intact and that you have as little downtime as possible.  Most accounts will have ZERO downtime should they choose to change over to Stripe.    Existing accounts that choose to stay with PayPal will be able to do so.

Along with this update are several minor updates such as improved history logging on all accounts to better track what is going on with subscription renewals, account upgrades, and the current state of the subscription.

2017-05-16 Maintenance Window

The MySLP website will experience a brief period of downtime on Tuesday May 16th 2017 from 11AM EST until 11:20AM EST.    Customer Maps may be offline for up 2 to 3 minutes during part of the upgrade process.

MySLP 17.5 Brings Store Locator Plus 4.7.9 Online

The latest version of the MySLP service is now online and includes the latest versions of the Store Locator Plus application stack.

Locator Features

The locator now employs a lighter communication interface in JavaScript reducing memory on the user’s browser and network traffic between your site and the MySLP server to increase locator performance.    Enterprise level users that are using  the territory bounds feature have some patches that fix an issue where some searches would not get a response from the server when no locations were being returned.  Power level users that employ the location categories to filter their location results will not improved performance on searches.  Power level users also get improved CSV import performance in the latest MySLP update.

Account Upgrade/Downgrade

This update also includes a revised dashboard that has an improved interface for upgrading your account level and performing other account features.   Changing your account level or restarting a suspended subscription is now a one-click process from My Profile when logged into the MySLP Dashboard.

Coming Soon

We are well underway with the 17.6 release of the MySLP service.   This coming release brings direct credit card billing through Stripe services for all new accounts.    Existing accounts will be able to request assistance if they wish to migrate from PayPal to direct credit card billing for their service.

Version 4.7.9 Allows Location Highlighting Via URL

Version 4.7.9 of Store Locator Plus as well as the Experience, Premier, and Power add ons was released for WordPress today.     The features and updates will roll out on the MySLP platform in the next 30-60 days after it passes full integration testing on the MySLP service.

The 4.7.9 update focuses on bringing the new Premier URL Control module functionality to the locator application.  The URL Control module adds two new features to the Store Locator Plus application: passing in a location ID via a URL and passing in location limits via URL.    These features can be enabled or disabled globally on a per-site basis.

Location ID via URL

With this feature enabled adding a ?location=<#> parameter to a URL will highlight that location.  The location will be set as the center of the map and the marker will be clicked which will bring up the info bubble by default.

Limits via URL

With this feature enabled adding a ?limit=<#> parameter to a URL will set the initial map loading and search results limit on locations returned.   Passing in ?location=<#>&limit=1 will highlight and only show that location on the map.

Premier members with an active subscription will be able to turn on the URL Control module which will load in the code necessary to add new Location ID and Limits via URL features.

Directory Builder Updates

The Power add on directory builder, invoked with the [slp_directory] shortcode on a page, has also had updates that work in conjunction with the new Premier URL Control module.     You can now add a locator_data attribute to the shortcode to override the standard parameter passing when linking to a landing page.    The default behavior is to link to the locator and filter results to match the given shortcode “by” attribute.  For example [slp_directory by=”city” locator_page=”/map/”] would pass ?city=<city-name> to the map and show only locations in that city.

If you had one location in each city you could not pass [slp_directory by=”city” locator_page=”/map/” locator_data=”sl_id”] which would pass in the ?sl_id=<id> to the map.  If the Location ID via URL feature is enabled this would allow people to see a list of cities and when clicking on a city bring up the map page highlighting that location on the map.

PTI is using the new Store Locator Plus features on their upcoming route map.  PTI site design by KO.

Other Updates

There have been a few minor patches as well as updates to the base Store Locator Plus plugin and Experience add on that ensures all the major components communication with each other properly on how to build the data queries properly when various parameters like location_id is passed in via a URL.    Older legacy add ons will not have the necessary code updates and may conflict with the latest Power and Premier updates.   Mixing-and-matching the Experience, Premier, or Power add ons with the legacy add ons is not recommended and is no longer supported.

MySLP Service Update 17.4

My Store Locator Plus will be undergoing a brief maintenance window at 3:15PM EST while we update the sign up and subscription management system.   Map services should not be impacted by this update.    Access to MySLP login and dashboard functionality may be impacted for 5 to 10 minutes during the update process.

The updates improve the interface with the PayPal subscription system to make it easier to setup a new account or extend a subscription for existing users.

MySLP is our business location map and directory service for mobile and web apps.  It is a monthly service that is hosted in the cloud.  We manage the system backup and upgrade compatibility when new versions of the Store Locator Plus application are available.   You enter your locations and add a snippet of JavaScript code to your web or mobile app and gain a fully functional locator for your web and mobile presence.

MySLP Update Notice 2017-Mar-27

March 17th, 2017 11:30AM EST (GMT+4)

The MySLP service may experience a temporary service disruption expected to last no more than 5 minutes while we upgrade the system to our 17.3 release.   This update focuses on the subscription renewal process as it deals with an issues some of our subscribers have had with their PayPal recurring payment not properly extending their subscription.  In addition this update will include the following service refinements:

All Levels

Minor performance improvements when logging into the dashboard and when the locator interface is being pushed from our server to your website.

Enterprise Accounts

Addresses issues with the Advanced Options interface for importing locations.   Some users could have experienced issues with the import not starting when clicking “upload” depending which features were checked.

 

 

 

Store Locator Plus Planned Maintenance (2017-MAR-11 830A-12P EST GMT+5)

Store Locator Plus will be undergoing planned maintenance later today from 830AM until 12PM ET (GMT+5).   The following services may be affected as follows:

Websites

All Store Locator Plus websites including the marketing sites, demo site, documentation sites, and upgrade servers will be offline for 10 minutes starting at 830AM.

WordPress Plugin Updates

Update service will be offline for 10 minutes starting at 830AM.

My Store Locator Plus

Maps will not be served for 10 minutes starting at 830AM.  This is one of several updates necessary for a fault-tolerant system where we are aiming for 99.999% uptime for serving MySLP maps.

Dashboard login and the main marketing site will undergo several changes that may take them offline intermittently for up to 20 minutes at a time through 12PM EST.  This should have very minimal, if any, impact serving maps to your application or website.

Store Locator Plus 4.7.7 Released

Version 4.7.7 of Store Locator Plus was released today.   The primary reason for this release is to patch a plugin activation bug that caused some sites to crash during the update process.   The bug was related to a case sensitivity issue that affected primarily Windows based servers.   If you were seeing an error noting recalculate initial distance as the culprit, this patch should resolve that issue.

In addition the plugin load has been revised using the “Minimalist Loader” best practices.   WordPress plugins can bolster overall performance of a website by including nothing more than the base plugin loader in the top-level directory for that plugin.   That loader file should contain the header information WordPress needs to set the name and version of the plugin and an include that loads the main code from a subdirectory.  The base Store Locator Plus plugin now follows this convention to reduce processing overhead across WordPress.   The more plugins that take this approach the faster your site will be.

General analysis of our plugin performance between versions. We run this as part of our 2017 QA process to ensure we do not introduce code that slows down base performance.

Smaller Payload “Feels” Faster With SLP 4.7.6

Store Locator Plus 4.7.6 is now out for WordPress and will be live later this week on My Store Locator Plus.   One of the bigger “behind-the-scenes” changes was a notable reduction in the JavaScript data request.   This is the part of the locator that is loaded up in a user’s browser every time they visit your locator page.   When the page is loaded the browser sends a request back to the server asking for the locations closest to them.

Prior to version 4.7.6 there were some extra options carried around with that request being sent from the user back to your server.    After reviewing the code we determined that the extra options were not needed to properly handle the location lookup.   We eliminated the extra data which reduced the size of that request to less than half the size it was in any 4.X version of Store Locator Plus.

While we expected a little less data I/O what we didn’t expect was for our performance tests to show notable changes to the time it takes to draw the first location in the results panel.    Running a set of SiteSpeed.IO tests on a standard data set we are seeing regular improvements of 19-42% on various performance metrics.

RUM Speed Index 19% faster down from 2375 to 1985.
First Paint is 31% faster down from 775ms to 589ms.
Backend Time is 52% faster down from 216ms to 152ms.

We’re not sure how this will look in the “real world” but we like unexpected surprises like this!   If your Store Locator Plus implementation “feels faster” with SLP 4.7.6, please share on our Twitter account @LocatorPlus.   If it is slower our Twitter account is @TheOtherLocatorGuys.