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IMPORTANT: Experience Add On / Store Locator Plus Upgrades

SLP 4.4.14 Info Tab

Store Locator Plus 4.4.17 was released today with several updates to increase performance.  One of the biggest issues was the use of the third party support assistant service, Freemius.    There have been multiple reports of issues communicating with the Freemius servers which is slowing down some customer sites.    Until we can resolve the issue with Freemius that code has been removed from Store Locator Plus.

Experience add-on users MUST UPGRADE to Experience 4.4.03.     The older versions were relying on some WordPress functions that were loaded by Freemius.    That was a bug.  All add-ons , Experience included, should be self-sufficient.   SLP version 4.4.13 and 4.4.14 will cause Experience 4.4.02 or earlier to crash.    SLP 4.4.17 will automatically deactivate Experience if version 4.4.02 or earlier is found on your site.    If you re-activate this and ignore the “upgrade Experience or a fatal error will occur” warning your site will crash.   If that happens you must use cPanel or FTP and remove the ./wp-content/plugins/slp-experience subdirectory.     Login to your account on Store Locator Plus and get the latest version of Experience 4.4.03 or higher, install and activate it.

Other performance features include a faster and simpler “News and Info” reader that uses the built-in WordPress RSS feed processor to get the latest Store Locator Plus news.    You will notice the Info tab has been reworked along with this update.   The How To Use page now includes the news feed on the right side as well as an introductory setting up SLP video.  This will also improve performance during the initial install and during the first visit to the Store Locator Plus Info tab each day.

SLP 4.4.14 Info Tab
SLP 4.4.17 Info Tab

 

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Store Locator Plus Version 4.4.10 fixes the JavaScript error for Pages add-on

Charleston-SC-Waterfront-Park-fountain

Store Locator Plus version 4.4.10

Recent updates to Store Locator Plus 4 have fixed a minor bug that effected the way the Pages add-on shortcode was rendering.

Another feature some of the users and/or administrators were inquiring about is the registry to participate in the Freemius survey feature. Yes, this is still the same author, developer and product. Even if you have registered, you can bypass the survey questions, or opt out. We understand some users are testing and deactivating the plugin and then reinstalling or re-activating SLP 4 to a newer version. You can still select the deactivate button at the bottom of the short survey without adding a reason but we sure would appreciate it if you could share any relevant information about how the plug-in is working for you, even if you are just testing. This allows Store Locator Plus developer to be proactive and improve the plug-in as well as get suggestions for new features.

The new Experience Add-on was published today. Read the latest info and news post and check out the short video.

Next up: The new Power add-on to be released later this month. Stay tuned. Subscriptions 520x520

Change Log for SLP

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WordPress 4.4 Is Out With Store Locator Plus Contributions

WordPress 4.4 was just released today and the most important thing to note with the new release is that I am now officially a core contributor.   That’s right!  Way down in the list of 400+ people that contributed you’ll find my charlestonsw user name, listed as “Store Locator Plus”, in the credits.   Woot!    After that, there isn’t really much to report in the new 4.4 update.

Store Locator Plus is an official contributor to WP 4.4.
Store Locator Plus is an official contributor to WP 4.4.

 

I mean, sure, they added things like support for responsive images and started the first iteration of the WordPress REST API as part of the core product.  They released the 2016 theme.  And they made it so that your WordPress site can be an embed in another WordPress site.   But really, what’s more important than my 2-line patch in Core?

REST API

OK, maybe the REST API is important.   Why?  Because I hope to deploy Store Locator Plus endpoints in the next release of SLP coming this month.    For those of you that are not tech-nerds, why is this important?  Because it makes your Store Locator Plus location data globally accessible.    What does that mean?   Other tech-nerds and start creating robust web applications, mobile applications, and just-about-any-other-type of applications that fetch your location data direct from your Store Locator Plus installation whether or not they are using WordPress.   Yes, the data can be protected with user authentication to prevent third-party apps from stealing your data.    For those apps that are authenticated it means Store Locator Plus will be far more accessible in 2016.

What does this mean for people not creating mobile apps or pulling up location data from the Python-powered super-app?   A better user experience.   This new tool kit means that form posts and page loads can be phased out over time with new interfaces that feel like real-time interaction throughout the plugin.    Adding and editing locations.    Getting an infinite scrolling list of locations without pagination.   User interface elements that bring in location content on pages, posts, and even the mapping page.     Think of it as being similar to how the current “search for locations near this zip code” action where the page doesn’t refresh completely but just populates the list and markers.    But EVERYWHERE.

It will be a long slow process, but now that the REST API is official it can start to be deployed in places that were far more difficult to “hook into” in the past.

What is the first thing to roll out?

Most likely a new WooCommerce to Store Locator Plus plugin that lets you associate products with specific locations.   That code is already underway and barring any issues with testing now that the official WordPress 4.4 is out, it should roll out later this month in its first FREE version 1.0 release.

Embeds

What are embeds?   Why is it cool?   Well, it is not something that will likely be leveraged by Store Locator Plus but it is still cool enough to talk about.     What this does is allow you to reference another WordPress-based article from another site.  In the past you would get the content but it would be forced into your overall theme on your site.    With the new embed feature the remote WordPress site will send along ITS formatting data and your site will understand that and keep the original site formatting withing a tidy little viewing area for the article snippet on your site.   It retains the original user interface from the source article without messing up your site so things look better all-around.    No extra work required.    That’s a win for everyone.

Embed WordPress In WordPress
Embed WordPress In WordPress

Other Updates

There are a number of other improvements; some of which I wish had come out a year ago like term meta. I wrote my own 2 years ago and now have to think about replacing it with the WP Core version.   There is also  a new theme, lots of bug fixes, and other improvements built into WP 4.4.  Along with the REST API update , which is a great step forward into the current state of open and shared data in this new “Internet of Things” and “open everything” world, there are plenty of good reasons to update to WordPress 4.4.   Not too mention millions of websites will be running a piece of code I wrote.   <insert Doctor Evil laugh here>

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Premier Subscription Updates

Muselets_Champagne

New features are released on a regular basis for the Premier account subscribers. To ensure you get all the fabulous updates you will need to register your account and maintain an active Premier Subscription with Store Locator Plus.   Login at www.StoreLocatorPlus.com and go to “My Account”.  Scroll down to the Premier Subscription section and copy your user ID and subscription ID.    Go to your website and login as a site administrator.   Go to the Store Locator Plus / General / Admin section.   Enter your user ID and subscription ID.   You will receive inline updates to the Premier Plugin whenever a new version is available. For more information refer to the instructions and  watch the quick tutorial video. If you need assistance, contact a support team member via the Premier forum or Premier “ask us” form on the subscription page.


New release will be available to Premier members September 2015

Premier Plug-In Hide Street View:
September 2015 Premier Release 4.3.02 with SLP 4.3 version enabled
When the Hide Street View box has been enabled the map will not show the Google “peg man” on the map.

Mr. Google street view peg man on map zoom
Mr. Google street view peg man on map zoom

Hide Mr. Google Peg Man, voila he's gone
Hide Mr. Google Peg Man, voila he’s gone

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More Plugin Updates for Locator Plus

Ravenel Bridge As Banner

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

SLP 4.3 Default Map

Store Locator Plus 4.3 was published tonight.  If you are using a Store Locator Plus add-on pack you will want to upgrade the add-on to version 4.3 after upgrading the base plugin.

Updated Admin User Interface

The revised admin user interface leverages the WordPress Dashboard styling and interface elements.   Settings boxes can be collapsed and expanded, the slider boxes are gone having been replaced with standard checkbox elements, and the CSS styling is now consistent across all add-on packs.    The new interface is designed to work more closely with the built-in WordPress responsive design elements.

Update JavaScript Processor

The JavaScript engine that drives all interactions with the locations map has been updated with a new callback system that works much like the WordPress hooks-and-filters.   For the non-techie people out there, that means it is going to be a LOT easier for future add-on packs to add very cool interactive map features without requiring full system updates.    Add-on packs can now change how the interface works without having to “hack” the base plugin.  For the techies, the AJAX processor now includes full raw location data in addition to massaged data.    New shortcode options make it easier to get exactly what you need into results and map info bubbles.

Faster Manage Locations

Further refinements to the Manage Locations interface improves performance.  Version 4.3  simplifies the codebase to make it easier to add more advanced features in future releases.  Update JavaScript libraries improve performance by eliminating server queries for tables that list all locations on a single page.   A single “expanded view” mode means less data I/O processing while rendering the screen.    Admin users can selectively hide columns on the manage locations interface, with different admin logins having their own column settings saved between sessions.

SLP 4.3 Locations Manage
SLP 4.3 Locations Manage

 

SLP 4.3 Locations Edit
SLP 4.3 Locations Edit

Better Admin Performance

Admin pages for Store Locator Plus have reduced database I/O calls to the WordPress options table.   Logic changes eliminated nearly 60 extra data I/O calls when loading the Experience tab.   On the info tab the server based news feed and current plugin versions as well as update information for installed plugins is cached, significantly increasing performance when checking plugin information.

SLP 4.3 Experience Search Settings
SLP 4.3 Experience Search Settings

Better WPML Support

The WPML engine in Store Locator Plus has been updated to work with the newer WPML 3.2 filters while retaining legacy support for older versions of WPML.   All base plugin strings are pre-registered when Store Locator Plus loads into memory.   Most text in the application now uses gettext or WPML data I/O operations which should make the entire experience far easier for international users and sets the foundation for faster turnaround for polyglot related issues in the future.

Improved Settings Upgrades

The entire settings upgrade system has been rewritten ensuring more consistent transfer of legacy settings when upgrading, whether upgrading from one version back or 10 versions back.   “Lost settings” during an upgrade will now be a thing of the past.

Patches And Fixes

A number of minor patches and updates were made in 4.3 including apostrophe search on manage locations, admin page styling mishaps from various add-ons, extended data fields not always registering with the main plugin, fixes to several shortcode attributes.

Change Log

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Store Locator Plus 4.3 for WordPress Is Imminent

SLP Version 4_3

Right on the heels of the WordPress 4.3 update, Store Locator Plus 4.3 has passed testing and is ready to be released to the general public. Normally I would suggest updating to the latest patch release of WordPress immediately prior to upgrading your Store Locator Plus installation. As fate would have it, WordPress Core pressed the publish button a touch faster than we did. Since WordPress 4.3 is “fresh out of the oven” I recommend upgrading to WordPress 4.3, then TESTING your site thoroughly, or at least testing all of your Store Locator Plus functionality then upgrading to Store Locator Plus AFTER you have completed full testing.

Backup Your Site

WordPress tells you to do it before upgrading to 4.3.

I’m telling you to do it before upgrading to 4.3.

BACKUP YOUR WORDPRESS SITE.

What’s that?  You don’t have a backup?   Go spend $9 on VaultPress now.  Wait a few hours for the backup to complete.  THEN upgrade WordPress and Store Locator Plus to 4.3.

Upgrade ALL Components

When upgrading to Store Locator Plus 4.3 you should IMMEDIATELY upgrade all of your premium Store Locator Plus add-on packs. Every single add-on pack will need to be updated for cosmetic reasons. Some add-on packs will need to be updated to restore functionality that appears to go “missing” as there are significant changes to the underlying communications engine within Store Locator Plus. Your data and settings don’t go away, but some settings for some add-on packs will not function properly until your entire Store Locator Plus plugin stack is updated to version 4.3.x.

Don’t Panic

We have spent nearly a month testing, patching, and re-testing SLP 4.3.    We have kept up with the latest WordPress development releases right up through the production release of WordPress 4.3 that came out tonight.   A handful of customers have been installing and testing Store Locator Plus 4.3 and the related add-on packs and have helped us ferret out some of the bugs in the new release.    Despite hundreds of personal invitations that

Reporting Plugin Versions
Reporting Plugin Versions

were sent out to long-time customers of SLP,  we had far less people testing version 4.3 than we had hoped.

 

That means there are likely to be some hiccups in the 4.3 release that have not been caught.    Don’t panic.    Post your issue in the forum and be sure to post ALL YOUR SLP ADD ON PACK VERSIONS by copying the version text off your Info / Plugin Environment tab into your post.   If you can, provide a screen shot of the version like the one above.   Windows and OS/X have screen capture utilities built in, or try SnagIt by TechSmith. Provide a site URL and a clear description of what is wrong and what you expect to happen.   DeBaat, CiCi, and I will address any new issues as quickly as we can and issue the 4.3.01 patches as necessary.

 

 

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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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Store Locator Janitor Updated

The Janitor plugin for Store Locator Plus has been updated to version 4.2 today.   The Janitor add-on pack helps manage Store Locator Plus settings, location data, and provides data clean up tools for the Store Locator Plus system.   A year after version 4.2 of the base Store Locator Plus plugin was released, the Janitor add-on now depends on version 4.2 of the base plugin in order to operate.    The new release is based on the SLP 4.2 add-on framework which provides a more consistent application interface.   This reduces memory consumption and improves consistency.

Janitor 4.2 settings interface.  Now requires Store Locator Plus 4.2.
Janitor 4.2 settings interface. Now requires Store Locator Plus 4.2.

Change Log

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WordPress Locator Improves Social Media

Store-Locator-Plus-SME-480x480-24b

Social Media Extender version 4.2.05 was released today adding support for direct CSV import and export along with standard location data.    Several bug fixes are included in this release to improve compatibility with WordPress 4.2.2 and Store Locator Plus.   The issues address various data and display issues on specific web server configurations.

Social Media Extender is a premium add-on pack for Store Locator Plus.    Social Media Extender makes it easy to add social media icons and links to location listing results.   The social media platforms are pre-configured with Twitter and Facebook as sample media sites, however any social media platform can be added to the list.    Icons are provided for Blogger, Delicious, DeviantArt, Digg, Dribble, email, Facebook, Flickr, FriendFeed, Google +, Instagram, LastFM, LinkedIn, Pinterest, rss feeds, Skype, SoundCloud, Spotify, StumbleUpon, Tumblr, Twitter, TypePad, Vimeo, WordPress, and YouTube.    Once a social media platform has been configured, any location can be updated with links to that store’s social media pages.     When users search for locations the results will show the social icons and link directly to the location’s social media pages.

Store Locator Plus is a free plugin for WordPress that provides a simple interface to place an “enter your zip code” map of locations on your site.   A variety of premium add-on packs allow extensive modification of the interface and provided added functionality to the base product.   For more information visit www.StoreLocatorPlus.com.

SME Change Log

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Store Locator Plus New Install Fatal Error Fixed

Silk Map Banner 774x363

Store Locator Plus 4.2.60 addresses a fatal error that was occurring during a “clean” installation of the plugin. Sites that were upgrading from prior releases did not run into the issue. The problem was introduced in Store Locator Plus 4.2.51 with the automated saving of custom plugin theme files (css files). The auto-saving routine worked but on upgrading to version 4.2.51 or higher the restore functionality would crash on a new installation which did not have the auto-saved CSS folder in place. The problem could also appear on servers that restricted permissions on either the active plugin CSS directory or the saved CSS file directory after the auto-save completed. Version 4.2.60 gets Store Locator Plus back online for anyone that is exploring the plugin for the first time.

In addition version 4.2.60 now checks that WordPress 3.8 or higher is installed and gracefully warns the site administrator of potential issues if they are not running WordPress 3.8. Several other enhancements were made while address the CSS auto-save feature that removed excess plugin startup processing that was inherited with legacy cross-plugin drivers from the original framework used to build Store Locator Plus.

Change Log

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Store Locator Plus Maintenance Tool Updated

People and Computers

Janitor, the free add-on pack for Store Locator Plus, was updated today to update the UI to use the updated delete icon introduced in Store Locator Plus 4.2.48.    Version 4.2.48 of Store Locator Plus migrated from custom sprite graphics to the built-in WordPress 3.8 dash icons which render faster, more consistently, and are better with responsive WordPress themes in place.

Janitor 4.1.16 Settings Page
Janitor 4.1.16 Settings Page

Change Log

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Social Media Extender Auto-Update Fixed

SME 4.2.04 Add Social Media

After a lot of back-and-forth trying to figure out why Social Media Extender updates were not being sent to users via the automated WordPress update system, we’ve got it figured out.   The Social Media Extender should start reporting the available 4.2.04 update from DeBaat which includes several tweaks and added features since the 4.2.02 release.     The updates should start appearing in the updates list for all WordPress website admins that have Social Media Extender installed.

SME Change Log

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Enhanced Search Adds New Form Title Option

Enhanced Search 4.2.08 was released with a new form title option.  Before we get to that we need to mention a patch that addresses an issue for users that have Enhanced Results installed.   If you have a site the sets featured locations to “always show” AND you set Enhanced Search to “ignore radius unless address is used” the location search results were either missing completely or partial lists.    4.2.08 addresses that issue in conjunction with Store Locator Plus 4.2.39.

SLP 4.2.08 Herschel Title Box Change
SLP 4.2.08 Herschel Title Box Change

Now, for the title box feature.  Enhanced Search 4.2.08 has a new “search title box” label that is set.   You may be wondering where and how that text box is rendered.    That particular label is only rendered on some plugin themes, such as the iThemes Herschel NyloBoard theme recently released.   The label text appears in a search box above the search form.   This “magic” is done using the Pro Pack locator layout by using the new [[slp_option nojs=”search_box_title”]] shortcode.    The new shortcode allows a site builder to reference any stored option value including the label text.   A nice feature of this new setting is the text can be manipulated on multilingual sites with plugins like WPML or any plugin that reads and manipulates database-stored text strings.

SLP 4.2.08 Herschel Title Box Setting
SLP 4.2.08 Herschel Title Box Setting

What else is new in Enhanced Search 4.2.08?   Language support for internationalization (i18n) and localization (l10n) has been improved for settings like the city, state, and country label selectors.   The plugin now uses the standard state selector and builder code for creating drop down menus.   The AJAX handler has been updated to use the built-in Store Locator Plus 4.2 add-on framework to reduce code overhead and complexity.

Change Log

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Locator Patch Finds Missing Locations

Twitter 1500x500 Map 3D Banner

Store Locator Plus 4.2.38 was released today addressing an issue where some sites suddenly “lost” locations.

After a week of research it was discovered that some MySQL and MariaDB installations will set boolean data fields to NULL versus true/false or blank.    This led to an issue where any of the locations that had a null value in the privacy flag entry would be considered private by the Store Locator Plus search mechanism.  The new patch considers locations with a NULL privacy value to not be marked private, which has “recovered” missing locations on the front-end search interface.

Enhancements

In addition to the patch, several updates that were underway have been included as part of the effort to launch a Widget Pack update and start provide more advanced user interface features and WordPress theme support.

SLP 4.2.38 Widget Tagalong Pro Pack
Version 4.2.38 with Widget Pack, Tagalong, and Pro Pack options activated.

A new plugin theme has been bundled with Store Locator Plus that has been test for layout compatibility with the iThemes Herschel WordPress theme.

SLP 4.2.38 iThemes Herschel Plugin Theme
SLP 4.2.38 iThemes Herschel Plugin Theme with Pro Pack, Enhanced Search, and Enhanced Results.

The Simple White Four Column theme has been updated to use the newer SaSS based CSS rules engine, patching some quirks that are addressed with the core Store Locator Plus CSS ruleset included in all SaSS based plugin themes.

SLP 4.2.38 Simple White 4 Column on WP theme iThemes Herschel
WordPress iThemes Herschel theme with Store Locator Plus Simple 4 Col White theme. Uses Pro Pack, Enhanced Search, Enhanced Results for layout control.

A new general layout option for Pro Pack users allows site designers to gain access to not just the location data but also Store Locator Plus plugin option values.   The new [[slp_option nojs=”<option_name>”]] and [[slp_option js=”<option_name>”]] settings allow site designers to do things like place headers on the map with dynamic messages that change when site options change such as “All distances shown are in <miles>” where miles will change to kilometers if you change the default measurement in the UX settings panel.     Many other options such as a fixed default radius and various labels can be displayed using this feature.     It is used in conjunction with Enhanced Search to display heading on search box labels that can be changed via the admin panel (coming in the next Enhanced Search release).

The language translation system was extended, providing better internationalization (i18n) and localization (l10n) support for all add-on packs.  This has been built into the SLP 4.2 add-on framework.

The state filter processor was refined to eliminate redundant code in Enhanced Search and the upcoming Widget Pack update.

The state and country SQL processors were updated to address various null data issues and to provide slightly faster SQL query processing.

Map Center and Zoom Level have been migrated to the newer options system in Store Locator Plus. This also grants access to the slp_option shortcode in Pro pack for displaying these values such as “Distances calculated from <map center address>.” when a map is first loaded.

Change Log