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.

Default Updated Style 2017-05-24_17-51-32.png
The updated Default style better lines up the search form with the map.
Default with no label 2017-05-24_17-52-36.png
The updated Default Style better handles the option to drop the search label and use a placeholder instead (Experience Add On).

More elements have been culled that reduces the overhead of the plugin.  This makes the plugin more efficient for both WordPress and MySLP users. This simplification also has an impact on what will work with this release.   MySLP users won’t have to worry about compatibility issues but our WordPress plugin users should not the following compatibility changes:

Power needs to be version 4.7.11, also being released this week.

Premier will need to be version 4.7.10, it is being released this week.

Experience does not need to be updated but if you do update you’ll need SLP 4.7.10.

Gravity Forms Locations has been updated, released earlier this week, for SLP 4.7.10 compatibility.

Enhanced Map, Enhanced Search, and Widget legacy add ons have not worked for a few releases now.  You need to upgrade to the Experience Add On if you wish to update to SLP 4.7.10.

Experience 4.7.10

The Experience Add On , which is part of the MySLP Professional level of service, focuses on interface style updates.   It works with the updated SLP 4.7.10 base plugin as well as the extended Search Form Style options provided by the Premier 4.7.10 release to style drop down menus and the address zip code autocomplete feature.

This release also fixes the Allow Address In URL setting and provides an updated translation for sv_SE Swedish language users.

Premier 4.7.10

The Premier Add On, available to all active Premier Members and part of the MySLP Enterprise service has updated the Dropdown Styler to work with the Search Form Styles in SLP 4.7.10.    The Dropdown Styler utilizes a jQuery library to create a replacement for the browser dropdown entries on the locator search form that can be easily styled with standard CSS rules.   The 4.7.10 update adds the UI Lighteness style to the pre-existing Smoothness and Vader active interface elements styling.    The styles also now apply to the Experience auto-complete interface for zip code autocomplete.

Smoothness DropDown 2017-05-24_18-00-59.png
The Smoothness style replacing the default Safari drop down look-and-feel.   Select Smoothness from the Search / Appearance / Search Form Style setting.

This update also includes an updated translation file for sv_SE Swedish language users.

Power 4.7.11

The Power Add On, available as part of the Power level for MySLP users, has been updated to work with the updated SLP 4.7.10 release.   It also includes an updated translation file for sv_SE Swedish language users.

 

 

Gravity Forms Locations 4.7.10

In preparation for the of Store Locator Plus 4.7.10 for WordPress, we have release an updated version of DeBaat’s Gravity Forms Locations add on.    The SLP 4.7.10 release will be dropping some legacy methods and functions in the base plugin in order to increase performance and reduce the memory footprint of the base plugin.

Supported plugins including Gravity Forms Locations, Power, Experience, and Premier have been updated to ensure compatibility with the 4.7.10 release.   Legacy add ons including Enhanced Map, Enhanced Search, and the Widget Pack are no longer supported.  Users of Enhanced Map, Enhanced Search, and the Widget Pack should upgrade to theExperience Add On which includes all 3 legacy add ons as well as Enhanced Results and some new features.

Interested in Gravity Forms Add Ons for Store Locator Plus?  Here is a video on how it can be used to allow users to add locations to your site:

Version 4.7.9 Allows Location Highlighting Via URL

Version 4.7.9 of Store Locator Plus as well as the Experience, Premier, and Power add ons was released for WordPress today.     The features and updates will roll out on the MySLP platform in the next 30-60 days after it passes full integration testing on the MySLP service.

The 4.7.9 update focuses on bringing the new Premier URL Control module functionality to the locator application.  The URL Control module adds two new features to the Store Locator Plus application: passing in a location ID via a URL and passing in location limits via URL.    These features can be enabled or disabled globally on a per-site basis.

Location ID via URL

With this feature enabled adding a ?location=<#> parameter to a URL will highlight that location.  The location will be set as the center of the map and the marker will be clicked which will bring up the info bubble by default.

Limits via URL

With this feature enabled adding a ?limit=<#> parameter to a URL will set the initial map loading and search results limit on locations returned.   Passing in ?location=<#>&limit=1 will highlight and only show that location on the map.

Premier members with an active subscription will be able to turn on the URL Control module which will load in the code necessary to add new Location ID and Limits via URL features.

Directory Builder Updates

The Power add on directory builder, invoked with the [slp_directory] shortcode on a page, has also had updates that work in conjunction with the new Premier URL Control module.     You can now add a locator_data attribute to the shortcode to override the standard parameter passing when linking to a landing page.    The default behavior is to link to the locator and filter results to match the given shortcode “by” attribute.  For example [slp_directory by=”city” locator_page=”/map/”] would pass ?city=<city-name> to the map and show only locations in that city.

If you had one location in each city you could not pass [slp_directory by=”city” locator_page=”/map/” locator_data=”sl_id”] which would pass in the ?sl_id=<id> to the map.  If the Location ID via URL feature is enabled this would allow people to see a list of cities and when clicking on a city bring up the map page highlighting that location on the map.

PTI is using the new Store Locator Plus features on their upcoming route map.  PTI site design by KO.

Other Updates

There have been a few minor patches as well as updates to the base Store Locator Plus plugin and Experience add on that ensures all the major components communication with each other properly on how to build the data queries properly when various parameters like location_id is passed in via a URL.    Older legacy add ons will not have the necessary code updates and may conflict with the latest Power and Premier updates.   Mixing-and-matching the Experience, Premier, or Power add ons with the legacy add ons is not recommended and is no longer supported.

4.7.8 of Store Locator Plus / Power Add On for WordPress

Store Locator Plus and the Power Add On for WordPress were released today.    The updated versions will be published to the MySLP service in the next 30 days once we have completed testing on that platform.

Store Locator Plus, the base plugin for the locator application, includes a minor update that cleans up some basic CSS issues on the admin interface that showed up on a handful of WordPress themes.    This version now uses minified CSS files for the admin pages, slightly reducing the network overhead and allowing WordPress enqueue to work more efficiently.

Power Add On, an extension that manages power features including basic reporting has been patched to fix an issue with the report export feature.   We finally tracked down an issue in an external JavaScript library that is included in this add on that would stop executing scripts on the report tab.   It turns out that the WordPress Core update to a newer version of jQuery was causing problems.    An updated script has been included in the 4.7.8 release of the Power add on.    The features in the Power Add On are also part of the Power subscription level for MySLP which will be updated to 4.7.8 once testing is complete.

 

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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