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WooThemes Site Changes

WooThemes has updated WooCommerce and their flagship (their words, not mine) theme Storefront many times in the past few months.   The most recent changes have improved some things in our shopping experience on the Store Locator Plus site.  Some of the changes, however, have broken fundamental elements of the Store Locator Plus storefront.    We are working on patching things like the Downloads Page for Premier Subscription holders and have found a number of smaller glitches with subscriptions that we are chasing down.   Unfortunately we are spending a lot more time chasing down WooThemes issues this week than we would like.  We’d much rather be improving Store Locator Plus than figuring out what WooThemes did that “improved” their product while breaking our site.

If anyone has a clue as to why Groups by ITThinx, WooCommerce, and WooThemes Storefront would stop playing nicely with each other, please shoot us a message.

Come to think of it, this isn’t much different than spending much of the past 3 weeks trying to figure out why WPML’s “well it works for everyone else” mantra doesn’t apply to gettext() in SLP.  Maybe it is just us, but we sure hope that is not the case.   In the meantime we appreciate your patience as we try to coax the code in our products and the products of those other “WP shops” into behaving.

In the meantime please feel free to post in the forums or shoot us an email at support@ if you have any pressing issues.

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Support Delays During Recovery

Store Locator Plus will have notable delays in answering support questions and issuing code patches for the month of October.    Lance Cleveland, the founder/marketing-lead/coder/doc-writer/support-guy for Store Locator Plus, will be offline for most of the month recovering from surgery.    There are two people that will be doing their best to answer support questions in the SLP forums during this period.   Both have had a month of training with Store Locator Plus.   CiCi can help answer basic questions.   AK has a bit of coding experience with SLP and can help answer more technical questions.

Regular support, patch releases, and new feature development is expected to resume by November 2014.

Thanks for your support of Store Locator Plus and thank you for your patience through this unanticipated “speed bump”.

– LC

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Why Do Authors Abandon WordPress Plugins?

As I continue work on my own plugins, I constantly find myself exploring plugins from other authors that will help me improve my product, my services, or my customer experiences with my plugins.    Today, for example, I was going to do a video on how to create a language translation for the Store Locator Plus plugin.   The multilingual support has been very lacking for quite some time now and it is time to fix that.   No reason to be “America/English-Centric” in this world.

Last night I found a decent plugin that will help with this project, both on my side but also the the user’s side of the equation.   The Codestyling Localization plugin gives me some easy tools to scan for language strings, create the .po files to send out, and generate the .mo files on return.  Even better it gives users the ability to edit the .po files using a simple web interface right from their WordPress admin panel.  Very cool.

CodeStyling Localization for Store Locator Plus
CodeStyling Localization for Store Locator Plus

However today I realized that to get the LATEST translation files to the user they are going to need to upload a .po file that I generate from the latest codebase and send to them via email.   The normal process for getting this on the server so you can use the Codestyling Localization plugin?   Use FTP and get the file from email through FTP and into your languages folder under the Store Locator Plus install.

That got me thinking, there must be an equally cool plugin for loading files via the admin panel directly into the plugin directory of your choice.

The search began.

Sadly, as with so many other plugin searches I found many, too many, dead ends.    Plugins that have not been updated in years.   Others that have been updated recently but are broken.  Or poorly written.  Or full of warnings and errors that fill up my log files.

Unfortunately this is not an uncommon story.  It is not just “in the advanced world of FTP replacements or file managers that only a few hard core admins would use”.   This happens ALL OF THE TIME.    Searching for any number of basic site-building add-ons I constantly find broken or unkempt plugins.

But why?

Donation Apathy

My suspicion is that too many plugin authors get ZERO donations from their users.  Put all the work in, refine, the product, continue to refine, ask for donations.  Refine some more, do some support, ask for donations.   The sad truth is that NOBODY will donate freely when they install a free plugin that just works.

I think many have good intentions.   They plan on donating.  Some day.  After they get this project, with a deadline less than 24 hours away but 28 hours of work remaining, online.

But then life happens.  They get busy. They forget.

Suspicion versus Facts

However that is just my suspicion based on a few casual emails, in-person conversations, and random comments left on various posts around the Internet.   Today I embark on a journey to find out why.   Instead of just moving on to the next plugin in the list, I am going to reach out to the authors of those dead plugins and find out WHY they abandon their work.   There is some good stuff out there that has been abandoned.  I want to uncover the real reasons why and possibly show people the way to profitable plugin development.

Over the coming days, weeks, months, I will be reaching out to the authors of these abandoned plugins and asking why.  In their words.  In their view.   What caused them to throw away a lot of hard work and pursue something else.   What I learn will be posted here in follow up posts.

Profitable Plugins = Supported Plugins

I have finally crossed the threshold where plugins can now support my family and more.  Much more.  It is a real job with real income.

I like that.

It ensures the plugins I write remain updated and supported, security holes are patched, they are tested and updated to be compatible with the latest WordPress releases.   They are maintained.

My customers like that.

And if I can do it… so can they.

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Daily Update : Tagalong and Forums

Tagalong

‘After a day of fixing other people’s code I am now back to working on Tagalong.    The 3.9 update means some major re-tooling of the product.   Not because it was wrong, but because it will be far more efficient and better integrated with all other add-on packs by using some of the new features that were baked into 3.9.   Along the way I’ll be improving Store Locator Plus as well.   My goal is to have an update of SLP and Tagalong out-the-door before I leave to attend WordCamp Atlanta next week.

Support Forums

In the meantime I spent some time yesterday, having been “coded out” for the day, setting up the Store Locator Plus support forum on my website.   I’ve made several posts about the reasoning for this, the primary reason being the lack of  search features via the WordPress forums that return results just for my plugins.   Often a simple search returns a LOT of “static” with useless posts and answers that won’t help my customers.    It is all about providing a better overall experience for my customers.

The forum software is new to me and I’m sure I don’t have it “fully tweaked” yet, but I hope it will be a better experience overall.   If you have comments or suggestions on how to improve the forums please share either via this post or on the forums themselves.

 

Don’t Have A Forum Login?

If you’ve purchased ANYTHING from the CSA website you will automatically have a “participant” login to the forums so you can post and reply to messages.

Username or email not found? If you purchased a license key from within a plugin instead of ordering directly from this site, you will not have a username or email address registered here. Don’t worry, you can create an account by ordering something.

What?!? I need to order something? I just want to access the forum! Ok. Don’t “freak out” as my son would say. Order something that is FREE. Like the Store Locator Plus base product.

This site is for customers, not lurkers or trolls, which is why I have generic “register/sign-up” options disabled.