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.

A Better User Experience System Coming To Store Locator Plus

Store Locator Plus is kicking off 2017 with a notable revision to the user experience tools available in the map and location finder application.    Store Locator Plus for WordPress has long employed “Plugin Styles” as a way for users to jump-start their custom look-and-feel for the locator on their WordPress site.    With the recent release of the My Store Locator Plus SaaS service it was obvious that a modern system for deploying updated styles was going to be needed.

Store Locator Plus 4.7.3 is replacing the static CSS-file based styling system with a cloud-hosted style gallery.   This will allow the user experience team at Store Locator Plus to deploy new styles without having to wait for the R&D team to design and test a new version of the application before a new style is available to the users.    Our design team can now assist all Store Locator Plus users that are having styling issues and provide them with a faster turn around for one-click fixes to their locator interface issues.
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‘Near Me’ – Why You Want A Locator On Your Site

A summary of the article Google Searches With ‘Near me’ Surged 34 Times Since 2011 by Search Engine Watch published April 15th, 2015.

Mobile devices have made searching for places near where you are , with your phone, a popular service. You are out there in the real world and want to know what is near you at that very moment in time. A recent article we published shows the searches for restaurants using this technology is one of the most common searches in America.

This article from Spring 2015 delves in deeper into this subject. Here are the highlights.
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