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SLP version 4.6, Experience add-on 4.6, Power Add-on 4.6 and Premier 4.6

The moment you all have been waiting  for is here. Updates to version 4.6  have been made to the core Store Locator Plus plug-in along with Power, Experience, and Premier.

Some of the new features and updates you will see in the core (base) plug in :

Enhancements

  • Manage Locations now has fast delete on single location delete icon.
  • Provides mechanism for add ons to serve per-admin-page specific JS.
  • If there is a newer version of an active SLP add on it will be shown on the WP plugins page.

Fixes

  •  Power Add On assignment of categories.
  •  Duplicates handling on location import.
  • Smart/fast option saving for add on packs including Power Add On import options.
  • Fix the  admin form drop down menus.
  • Eliminate the duplicate “are you sure you want to delete”  dialogue boxes on bulk actions.

Changes:

 

Power Add-on Users reported some glitches with version 4.5.12 imports. The duplicate handling updates has been fixed. Note: In order for the Duplicate Handling Update location to function, either the sl_id  or the Contacts field Identifier MUST be present and match what is stored in the location data field. To see the sl_id number you can hover over to the left of the location name under manage locations. Exporting the locations file to a csv file will also show the sl_id. This id is assigned automatically when a user adds a location in SLP for the first time and is not the one  you assign as an identifier with contact extender. The specific contact identifier field can be used instead of the sl_id and takes precedence.

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SLP version releases, Power 4.5.10 , Premier 4.5.10 while in flight


I hope everyone is enjoying the balmy summer weather. The developer and author of Store Locator Plus has been very busy with updates  in preparation for meeting his MYSLP team.  I am sure he will have some interesting stories to tell when he gets back.   He hasn’t been idle!  While pond hopping he managed to revamp and publish   Store locator Plus 4.5.10, which we hope provides better information on how to actually get that pesky Google API, browser , server console key  or whatever they are calling it these days, into the right location in the SLP General settings.  Thanks to a user question, apparently the linked instructions under the SLP INFO tab may not have been as user friendly as hoped.

Other updates were to the Power Add-on and Premier Add-on.    Premier 4.5.10 was released while the author was mid flight somewhere over the Atlantic.218px-Fly00488_-_Flickr_-_NOAA_Photo_Library

The Power Add-on and Premier Add-on were not playing nice together when it came to icons and map markers assigned to the Category Manager and settings.   Thanks to a recent Premier Subscriber for revealing the mismatching icons issue and for patiently working with SLP while it was resolved

Stay tuned for a future update; I am  hoping this  will  help us all keep our versions  straight,( this blogger included who has told people to update to a non-existent version of an add-on, causing mayhem and confusion in her wake)  has been requested from numerous loyal customers.  Yes, you asked for it , he heard you, and  coming to your account dashboard in the not too distant future, being able to view the version add-on that is available to you under your account downloads.

In the meantime, please check your versions under the Support tab on the home page.

wheretofindversions

Change Log for SLP

 

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The Future Direction of Store Locator Plus

If you’ve been following the recent changes to the Store Locator Plus website and product offerings you have likely noticed a change in general strategy and direction with respect to the add-on options. The over-arching theme is to have fewer add ons with more features.

In the past the decision was made to keep premium options as affordable as possible and allow an ala-carte approach. As the product has grown the options have become numerous. Having many smaller add-ons allowed people to pick-and-choose what they wanted to keep costs down. That option has come with a number of downsides that have slowly grown to outweigh the benefits. Therefore a new method of providing grouped add-ons with locator-specific features will be the way ahead for the following reasons:

  • For new customers it is a challenge to figure out exactly what combination of a dozen add-on offerings will help them achieve their goal of building the best locator experience for their business or customers.
  • For existing customers it is a chore to keep up with a half-dozen Store Locator Plus add-ons they may have installed and to ensure the add-ons are updated to the latest release. Despite the built-in update notifications they go unnoticed unless they are logged into the WP admin site, which many do not do once they have a site working the way they want it to.
  • For our support team checking for the myriad of combinations of plugins installed and various versions and how they affect each other is a challenge.
  • The R&D overhead of managing dozens of code repositories is an even larger challenge, especially with a new team of developers coming on board.
  • Documenting all the add-on packs and options is a full-time endeavor for a part-time support person.

The New Add Ons

Going forward we need to reduce the footprint of the options if we intend to keep Store Locator Plus current and a viable option for the WordPress community. Therefore, SLP has decided to go in a new direction and offer a few premium plugins that augment the Store Locator Plus product.  This solution will simplify the development process, improve stability, make it easier for customers to pick the one-or-two options they need to build the perfect locator for their business or customer, and make it easier to keep up with the updates for both the developers and customers.

Moving to a few larger plugins will address many of the aforementioned issues.

​At the end of this year there will be 4 plugins that are “mainstream”:

  • Store Locator Plus
  • ​​Experience : User experience options  – replacing Enhanced Map/Enhanced Search/Enhanced Results + Widgets
  • ​​Power : Functionality options that effect Imports, SEO, and categorization – replacing Pro, Tagalong, Pages, Directory Builder, and Contact Extender
  • ​Premier : Advanced features and 3rd party integration features as well as enhancements to all of the above

Benefits Of Fewer Options

Customers can easily find which add-on has the feature set they need. Existing customers will be able to purchase an upgrade and replace several add- ons with a single add-on and reduce WordPress site overhead in the process; new features not found in stand-alone Legacy add-ons.  As the new add ons become the norm our support staff will be more efficient at answering questions, providing solutions, or addressing issues.  The reduction in overhead on documentation, testing, compatibility checks, and update notices will allow our R&D team to focus on code improvements for stability and adding advanced features.

These changes will make it far easier to ensure cross-option compatibility. For example:  Our code logic will know which Pages settings are going to include options for X,Y, and Z while Tagalong has A, B, C and how they work together. This makes the code more efficient; often using less memory and faster execution of processes while contributing to a more stable environment.

As Power, Experience, and Premier mature they will continue to reduce the calls needed to the WordPress database (Experience turned 24+ data requests into 3 for faster startup), reduce the WordPress code stack, and as a result utilize less memory per website visitor.  All these things are minor incremental improvements to the speed at which the locator product works. Faster locator = faster page load times. Faster page load times = less lost visitors & better SEO page ranking.

Going Forward With The New Add Ons

​​As for  upgrading to the new add ons, we are working hard to ensure the settings from the products (add-ons) it replaces are kept intact.  Most settings appear to come over properly, but again with all the combinations of how plugin X impacts Y it is very challenging to get all combinations to update perfectly without an occasional  glitch. It should be a relatively painless process.  Our goal is for NOTHING to change, but with 15,000+ active installs on a bazillion combinations of WordPress added to some misbehaving themes/plugins/servers that is not always possible without a few hiccups.  The nice thing about the new add ons is that going forward you will only need to worry about keeping 4 SLP plugins updated at any given time.

The Experience add-on is already available and is out “in the wild” on a number of sites.  The Power add on is coming with an anticipated release date of March 31st, 2016. Premier is available to all Premier subscription holders and will continue to get all-new functionality as requested by our Premier members and will automatically receive the Experience and Power replacements (as long as the Premier subscription is active).

If you have purchased one of the ala-carte add-on offerings recently you can obtain a discount if you decide to replace them with either the Experience or Power add-on. Purchases need to have been made within the past 45 days.

If you choose not to replace your add-ons with Experience or Power they will continue to work with Store Locator Plus 4.4.   We plan to keep legacy add- ons compatible with Store Locator Plus for as long as possible, however there are architecture changes planned for Store Locator Plus 4.5 and 4.6 that will remove years-old functions and features from the base plugin in order to improve performance and stability and stay current with the Word Press updates.   Some older legacy add- ons may lose some options or stop working as the base plugin is cleaned up.

A Whole New Offering

You may be wondering why so many changes.  Why the focus on simplifying the code and improving performance?  Why is overhead such a big issue?  The answer is two-fold.

First, we want Store Locator Plus to be a good “citizen” in your WordPress install.   We want to ensure outdated code is removed for security purposes.  We also want to use as little memory as possible and to make the database processing as fast as possible.  This all leads to a better experience.  On websites with tens-of-thousands of visitors viewing their locator pages every day this makes a big difference in the user experience.

Second, we are building a locator service that will be handling tens-of-thousands if not hundreds-of-thousands of visitors per day   We are in the very early stages of building a full SaaS offering built on the WordPress + Store Locator Plus framework.  Our intention is to bring the full feature set of Store Locator Plus to non-WordPress websites.

My Store Locator Plus, our  future SaaS offering, will run a fully managed locator for everyone.   WordPress users included, if they opt for the SaaS service over the “buy it and own it” model we employ today.  Users of the SaaS service no longer need to worry about keeping the locator software updated or ensuring it does not break their custom work or settings.  We’ll be handling the upgrades after full regression testing has been performed.  MySLP will ensure your location data is always backed up and that new locations are quickly goecoded and ready to deploy.

As we work toward a high performance locator offering via the My Store Locator Plus SaaS product, the main plugin will continue to be refined.   The user experience, performance, and feature set will continue to evolve as we work toward building a world-class locator offering at an affordable price.

We hope you are as enthused about our plans for 2016  as we are.   As always, we appreciate your patronage and your support.

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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 Release 4.3.06 effects WPML interface

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Store Locator Plus version 4.3.06 was released today which changed some important dynamics behind the scenes. The biggest change will effect the international users who have been using WPML or similar as a language translator. The reason for the change is not to make a lot of work, but will be required to be compliant and compatible with the next WordPress release. The change is to the “text domain” structure. Some users will need to make changes to their custom translations and text strings as a result. The tutorial video describes the process and tips on changing your text string.

Update textdomain to ‘store-locator-le’ to utilize the forthcoming Store Locator Plus Release Notes page for WordPress. Note: This may require re-translating strings for some WPML installs.

Also in 4.3.06, the patch fixes the bug introduced after updating to SLP 4.3. The Map Info Bubble was not appearing. Another fix to the Map section of the plug-in is the ability to set the Map width to Auto. For more information and details please refer to the Change Log.

Premier Feature Coming soon

A new feature for the Premier Subscription Members that will allow modification of the search results and allow the Administrator/User to add headers and columns. More about this and a sneak preview of what is included can also viewed in the video.

Change Log

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More Plugin Updates for Locator Plus

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More Store Locator Plus add-on packs were updated this weekend.    All of the third party add-on packs have bee updated to be fully compatible with Store Locator Plus 4.3, released last week, and WordPress 4.3 which was released on the same day.    The updates will bring all features and functionality up-to-date for the latest changes to WordPress and Store Locator Plus.

The plugins that were updated today include:

Store Locator Plus 4.3.01

An update to Store Locator Plus that addresses several reported bugs in SLP 4.3 is available in prerelease.   4.3.01 is expected to be a production version in the next 48-72 hours.

This release will fix the “admin white screen” on some installs using specific versions of PHP that are unable to do “look forward” class recognition in include files.    It also fixes an issue with certain PHP environments that have strict double-colon constant definitions where users are mixing 4.2 version add-on packs with version 4.3 of the base plugin.

Premier 4.3.01

Premier Plugin version 4.3.01 is also coming out next week along with the SLP 4.3.01 patch.    The latest iteration of the Premier plugin adds the ability to turn the “Streetview Man” on-and-off on the map interface.   This feature requires SLP version 4.3.01.

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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Getting Ready For SLP 4.3

In case you’ve missed the notes from CiCi, I’ve been writing a TON of code over the past 2 weeks as I prepare to launch version 4.3 of Store Locator Plus.

SLP may not work as it did before if you updated Store Locator Plus to 4.3 but did NOT update the add-on packs.  Upgrading add-on packs to 4.3  should restore any prior features/functionality that went missing.  Another post will be published detailing known issues when mixing 4.2 add-ons with SLP 4.3.  The goal is to make 4.2 add-on packs NOT BREAK your website when the update to SLP 4.3 rolls out.   The best way to help me achieve that goal is to test the SLP 4.3 as soon as the RC prerelease versions are available.

After upgrading to SLP 4.3, if something stopped working please check the SLP Versions page and see if a 4.3 version of the add-on is available.  The auto-update notifications may not tell you about an update, especially if your site is running dozens of plugins. WordPress only checks as many as it can in 30-seconds then waits 12 hours to try again.

You may need to perform a manual update.   Login to StoreLocatorPlus.com and download the latest add-on pack updates, preferably version 4.3.xx.  Go to the WordPress plugins page, deactivate then delete any 4.2 SLP add-on packs.  Add new, upload the recently downloaded add-ons, and activate them.

SLP 4.3 Info Example

Want A Smooth Transition to SLP 4.3?

Take a few hours and launch a staging version of your site.  If you are on a service like WP Engine it is very easy to do.    Once you get your STAGING version of your site up-and-running, install the SLP 4.3 prerelease as well as any prerelease copies of your add-on packs.

Let me know what breaks.     The more people that can help test the prerelease builds the better.   

Release Candidate builds of Store Locator Plus 4.3 and the add-on packs (those that do NOT end with alpha-xx) should be out soon.   Once you see RC-xx on a prerelease build, go ahead and test.   These are the release-candidates that I hope are stable enough to launch to the public but have not been fully tested yet.

Premier Members have early access to every single prerelease build of every add-on pack.     Other customers should see a download for both the production release and the prerelease of add-on packs they own.   Store Locator Plus Prerelease is a FREE product available from the StoreLocatorPlus.com store.

What Is In 4.3?

SLP 4.3 is the “stabilize, bug fix, performance” release.    It has gone a long way toward making the code easier to maintain and more stable.    For example, there were no less than FOUR different ways to save/access/interact with various plugin settings; Saving the radius options was done differently than saving the address search label.       Most of that is gone now, using a simplified code base.     The new code also uses more of the WordPress best practices internally and on the UI.

There are some visible UI changes on the admin interface.    There are a lot of settings where the text descriptions or labels changed.   Things have moved around a little.  MOST of the changes are to make managing locations and settings easier on tablets and small-screen laptops.    The documentation and screen shots may be out-of-date for a while, but most things are easier-to-find and can be cross-referenced with the 4.2-style documentation fairly easily.

SLP 4.2.67 vs 4.3 Experience Results
SLP 4.2.67 vs 4.3 Experience Results

There are also a lot of new ways to extend the inner workings and, more importantly, the user-interface elements of Store Locator Plus.    The changes pave the way for cool new ways to interact with Google Maps, the user interface, and the back-end data using the WordPress AJAX interfaces and advanced Google tool kits.    You will see more of the “goodness” those changes will bring after 4.3 launches when new features start to roll out via the Premier plugin.

The 4.3 Schedule

These are the target time-frames for the various updates with a Friday release target.

Significant compatibility or functionality issues may push products up on the release schedule.  The goal is to accelerate the schedule for all products when SLP 4.3 goes into production.

July, Last Week:

Release Candidates for Store Locator Plus, Premier, Pro 4.3, and Enhanced Map/Search/Results.

August, First Week:

Release Candidates for Tagalong, Pages, Directory Builder, Widgets.

August, Third Week:

Production launch for Store Locator Plus, Premier, Pro 4.3, Enhanced Map/Search/Results, Tagalong, Pages, Directory Builder, Widgets.

Release Candidates for Contact Extender, Location Extender (likely to be merged into a single product).

Work with DeBaat on Release Candidates for Event Manager, Gravity Forms, Multimap, Social Media Extender, and User Managed Locations.

September, First Week:

Production launch for Contact Location Extender, Event Manager, Gravity Forms, Multimap, Social Media Extender, and User Managed Locations.

Note: Due to lack of interest, Real Estate Extender will be sunset during this update.

A Note About Premier

What’s that?  You’re not a Premier member?  You should be.    Yes it is a monthly subscription, but the sell-it-once-support-it-forever model makes it difficult to improve Store Locator Plus and provide support to the ever-growing customer base.

Did you know the are more than 12,000 sites are running Store Locator Plus right this very minute?  12,000 sites that want support, bug fixes, and new features.   Unfortunately, less than 20% of those 12,000 sites purchase an add-on pack.   In order to continue improving support AND adding new features there needs to be more than a one-time sale of $50, or even $500, from a select group of customers.

Lance's Daily SLP Email Deluge
Lance’s Daily SLP Email Deluge

Between CiCi and myself we answer dozens of direct email messages per day, dozens more forum questions, take dozens of screen shots, sh0ot videos, and do all the other things that come with supporting customers from around-the-world.   That is on top of writing hundreds of lines of code and keeping up-to-date with the latest WordPress Core developments to ensure compatibility when the WordPress 4.3 release comes out next month.

The best way to ensure the longevity of the product and retain YOUR investment in time and energy you put into employing Store Locator Plus on your site is to purchase a Premier membership.    A $250 one-time-fee and $30/month goes a long way toward creating a sustainable product.   That steady stream of monthly payments provides the means to hire another coder and another support person to make YOUR experience better.

SLP 4.3 Premier
SLP 4.3 Premier

It also ensures you get all those cool new features that are coming out in the Premier plugin.  Things like cluster maps that came out last month, results pagination the month before, and the forthcoming geo-boundary address search influence this month.   You also get priority access to myself and CiCi to answer your questions or get your feature request on the top of our development queue.  $30/month gets you a lot more than a buy-once-and-forget-about-it plugin.

I understand that sometimes a one-time purchase is all you need.  Not everyone needs a premium add-on.      The free plugin will always be there and the buy-it-and-own-it add-ons are not going away any time soon.    For those that have supported this project, even through a single add-on purchase, it is very much appreciated.

For those that have purchased a Premier Membership, thank you for your continued support.  It is helping achieve new goals, such as bringing CiCi on board to improve support, that would not be possible otherwise.   Enjoy the exclusive Premier Plugin features that are coming your way each month!

 

– Lance

 

 

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Cluster Map Markers Now Available

Cluster Marker USA Banner

Now that Store Locator Plus 4.2.66 has been put into production, the Premier add-on pack is now able to implement clustered Map Markers for the popular WordPress location finder plugin.   A single checkbox in the admin panel enables and disables the cluster feature.     Map markers are automatically clustered based on the proximity of the markers to each other on the map when rendered.  As users zoom in or out the clusters will regroup or break apart automatically.    Results shown under the map are not impacted by clustered markers.

Premier 4.2.01 - Cluster Markers
Premier 4.2.01 – Cluster Markers

Clustered Map Markers is the newest feature available exclusively to Store Locator Plus Premier Subscription members.   Last month paginated results was added to the Premier plugin.   A half-dozen new features are planned for Premier release only over the coming months.   Subscription holders must retain an active subscription membership to obtain the latest feature releases.   Subscriptions that lapse will not cause installed functionality to cease, however new features such as Clustered Map Markers will not be available as the plugin update system will not allow inactive subscriptions to update the plugin.

Premier Plugin version 4.2.01 is available for immediate download for all current Premier subscription holders.

Clustered Markers Video (early release candidate):

Change Log

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Locator Gets Results Pagination (Premier)

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Store Locator Plus Premier Members received a new Premier add-on pack that is exclusive to Premier subscription holders.   The new add-on pack is available for immediate download for all active Premier subscription accounts.   The exclusive “Premier” add-on pack is scheduled for monthly updates that will bring new features to the base Store Locator Plus plugin on a monthly basis.

May 2015 : Results Pagination

The May 2015 release of Premier includes results pagination.   This feature is available via the User Experience / Results tab when the Premier add-on pack has been installed and activated.   When Results Pagination has been enabled a new interface class is activated within the plugin that utilizes JavaScript and modified AJAX listener responses to provide the pagination interface to the Store Locator Plus map interface.   A previous/next page and an instructional label appears on the top left of the results listings.    When users interact with the page buttons the application queries the database in real-time showing the latest location data available as the user pages through the list of locations available within a given radius.

Premier Subscriptions

With the Premier Subscription, members are supporting ongoing development including feature improvements for the Store Locator Plus family of plugins.   Premier subscription holders are granted download access to all prerelease and production versions of the Store Locator Plus plugin family.  In addition to priority support and real time chat access, premier members are also given first consideration on new feature development.  Now, Premier members will also receive exclusive new features only available to Premier subscription holders through the download an installation of the Premier add-on pack.

All features and plugins that have been downloaded and installed via the Premier subscription program will remain fully functional even after the subscription has been cancelled by the user.   Cancelling a subscription will prevent downloads of any new plugin releases and will disable future updates to the Premier add-on pack.   The Premier add-on pack is scheduled to have new features introduced on a monthly basis.

Premier Subscriptions are available to all Store Locator Plus users.   The subscription requires  a one-time setup fee plus a recurring monthly or annual fee.   Customers that have purchased a version 4 add-on pack for Store Locator Plus qualify for a discount on the initial setup fee equal to their past purchase value for up to a $250 total credit.

Premier Change Log

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Locator Saves Custom Themes , Prepares For Custom Map Styles

Custom Bluegreen Map Banner

Store Locator Plus 4.2.54 was released today will several notable updates.   The updates include preparations for better location export performance in an upcoming Pro Pack release, custom Google map styling for an upcoming Enhanced Map release, and several patches for that impact all users of the base plugin itself including preparations for new Premier Member Only features and services.    One of the most-requested features, however, is the saving of custom CSS stylesheets (plugin themes) when updating the base plugin.

Saving Custom Stylesheets

Starting in version 4.2.54, whenever you select a custom plugin theme from the User Experience / View tab in the Store Locator Plus admin panel, a copy of your theme file is saved in a “safe directory” on the server.    From that point forward, when the next update of Store Locator Plus rolls out you can upgrade without having to re-upload your custom theme file.    Store Locator Plus will automatically locate and restore the custom theme file that you were using prior to the upgrade.

SLP 4.2.54 UX View Themes
SLP 4.2.54 UX View Themes

This update does require you to first save your current plugin theme file locally and re-upload it AFTER installing SLP 4.2.54.   Once you have done that process go to User Experience / View, select your newly-uploaded custom theme file, and you will be good-to-go for any future updates.

One less step in your SLP upgrade process if you have built custom theme files.   Some people are really going to like that update!

Data Performance and Location Export

Pro Pack allows for locations to be exported from your Store Locator Plus installation into a CSV file.   However some servers have very limited memory resource and “just stop” for no apparent reason when doing a location export.    It turns out that nearly every single error and warning reporting system in PHP and your web server are disabled during WordPress database I/O operations.   Another important note about the WordPress data engine is that it tries to cache ENTIRE DATA REQUESTS into memory whenever you perform a data operation through the data engine.

PRO 4.2.13 Prereease Export Locations
PRO 4.2.13 Prereease Export Locations

Since Store Locator Plus uses the built-in WordPress database engine for performance and consistency reasons, it means that whenever you elect to export your locations the entire location database is put in working memory on the server.  On a busy server or on a smaller server with limited RAM the export operation would often stop with no indication or warning as to what went wrong.  Even if you enabled full debugging there was no clue that the WordPress DB engine ate up all the memory on the server and died.

To avoid this problem the Store Locator Plus base plugin has added several new data I/O statements that allow plugins like the Pro Pack add-on to specify things like “only get one record at a time and load it into RAM”.    While the general claim is that this slows down performance versus the cache method employed by default in WordPress, limited test results show that the export process is no slower when doing a the “record at a time export”.   In fact on several servers the process was actually FASTER.  More important, however, is that on the busiest server as well as the lowest-memory configuration server an entire set of 200,000 records was exported without failing.

Pro Pack updates are coming soon that will take advantage of this feature.   Pending further performance testing, this feature is likely to make it into several features in the base plugin as well as additional add-on packs.

More Map Customization

The new update includes minor revisions to the Google Maps JavaScript interface.  The new revision will allow site administrators to employ custom JSON style rules to the Google Maps itself.   You will no longer be relegated to having your map look exactly like every other Google Map on the planet.   This new revision allows you to grab pre-configured JSON style rules from places like Snazzy Maps or to craft your own and create a truly custom look for your map interface.      The new map style feature will be part of a forthcoming Enhanced Maps update that is now being tested.

EM 4.2.04 Prerelease Map Styling
EM 4.2.04 Prerelease Map Styling
EM 4.2.04 Map Styling UI
EM 4.2.04 Map Styling UI

Premier Member Features

You may notice a couple of new settings in the General Settings / Admin tab in Store Locator Plus.    A new section for “Premier Members” where subscribers can enter their User ID and Subscription ID.    These new settings will enabled advanced features available only to Premier Members with an active subscription.    Exclusive Premier Member’s Only features will be coming to Store Locator Plus over the next few months.

Existing Premier Members should keep an eye out for Store Locator Plus news related to the new features.  Not a Premier Member yet?  Subscribe now and lock in the current monthly or annual subscription rate.   As the exclusive features list grows, so too will the membership fee.

Store Locator Plus Change Log

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Location Extender 4.2 Adds Territory and Other Data Fields

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The Location Extender add-on pack for Store Locator Plus is now available to the general public.    This new add-on pack adds several fields that users have been requesting in the support forums as well as some new fields for a paid customization requested by a client.

The added location data fields include:

  • Introduction – a long text field that is designed to be used with Store Pages templates as an introductory page text.
  • Year Established – a standard text field with a field slug ‘year_established’
  • County – a standard text field
  • Region – a standard text field
  • District – a standard text field
  • Territory – a standard text field
Location Extender Edit Fields
Location Extender Edit Fields

The extended data fields will automatically appear on the location add/edit screens and are available through all add-on packs that present field data.   The add-on packs that can take advantage of Location Extender, or other extender, add-on pack fields includes:

  • Store Pages – place the fields on the page template using the slp_location field=”<field_slug>” short code.
  • Pro Pack – import and export the extended data fields.  Use the field slug as the column header and select first row has field names during import.
  • Enhanced Results – display the field in the below-the-map results by adding the slp_location <field_slug> short code to the results layout.
  • Enhanced Map – display the field in the info bubble by adding the slp_location <field_slug> short code to the results layout.
Store Page with Location Extender Data
Store Page with Location Extender Data. Update Store Pages template is used to create this page.

 

Location Extender Details

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New Directory Builder 4.2 Add On Pack Is Out

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Store Locator Plus  has a new add-on pack,  Directory Builder 4.2.

Directory Builder provides various tools for building directory listings based on Store Locator Plus locations. The listings are dynamic, built in real time from the current location data. Add a new location in a new city and the city directory listing updates automatically.

The initial release provides a new short code, slp_directory, that builds a list of a specific location property such as a list of cities, states, or countries. The list can be linked directly to a specific locator page. The links to the locator page set the basic search parameters for the locator which means a single locator page can serve as the landing point for the directory listings.

Directory Page Front End
A dynamic city listing of locations is auto-generated with the slp_directory short code.

If you display a list of cities and link it to your default locator page the links will take over control of the initial map rendering. When following a directory link from the list-of-cities page the map will be set to immediately show locations for every location in the given city.

Directory Driven Locator Page
When users click the links on the directory page they end up on the locator page with an automated city search listing.

Additional features are on the development schedule and are expected to be released in the next few weeks.    Watch the CSA news feed for more info on upcoming enhancements to this add-on.

Directory Builder Details

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Directory Builder Prerelease Available

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The initial testing for the new Directory Builder add-on pack for Store Locator Plus has passed. The prerelease download is available immediately to all Premier Subscription members.

Directory Builder provides various tools for building directory listings based on Store Locator Plus locations. The listings are dynamic, built in real time from the current location data. Add a new location in a new city and the city directory listing updates automatically.

The initial release provides a new short code, slp_directory, that builds a list of a specific location property such as a list of cities, states, or countries. The list can be linked directly to a specific locator page. The links to the locator page set the basic search parameters for the locator which means a single locator page can serve as the landing point for the directory listings.

SLP Locations List from Test 1
This list of locations…
A Directory Page
Combined with this short code on a WordPress page…
Directory Page Front End
Creates this page on the website.

If you display a list of cities and link it to your default locator page the links will take over control of the initial map rendering. When following a directory link from the list-of-cities page the map will be set to immediately show locations for every location in the given city.

Directory Driven Locator Page
When users click the links on the directory page they end up on the locator page with an automated city search listing.

Directory Builder Details

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Store Locator Plus 4.2 Preview

Store Locator Plus 4.2 prerelease has been published for Premier Subscription members.   The prerelease passed baseline testing today as part of the first stage of testing for possible production later this week.

Store Locator Plus 4.2 does not have a lot of new features that you will notice on the surface.  It does, however, have several bug fixes and a new set of features that enhance stability and interoperability of future add-on pack releases.   The new Directory Builder and Location Extender already take full advantage of the new add-on pack interface in the base plugin.    Other add-on packs will eventually be upgraded to use the new 4.2 add-on interface.     From the user perspective nothing should change, but from the “Store Locator Plus engine” the new interface will be more consistent, take less memory, and cause fewer issues when layering on the add-on packs.

Directory City List Link With Count

[box type=”alert”]Please make sure you have upgraded Pro Pack and Janitor to the latest 4.1.XX release BEFORE upgrading to the SLP 4.2 prerelease.[/box]

What are some of the features you may notice in 4.2?

  • A couple of new SLP Themes and some upgrades to existing SLP themes.
  • Extended Data fields will now initialize and render properly on Store Pages and in standard results.

SLP 4.2 Details