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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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.