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Small Google Tweak = Big Changes For Some

In case you haven’t noticed, your Store Locator Plus and My Store Locator Plus apps may be working a little different during the last few weeks of 2016.   You didn’t change ANYTHING but suddenly things are not exactly like they were before.

It is a special Christmas gift from Google to all of us.

Sometime in late 2016 Google updated their Google Maps API.   We are not sure how many changes went into this release.   I must have missed the call from Larry and Sergey this time.    However we do know a few things that changed that impact customers.

#1 – Geocoding Requires Accurate Addresses

You better make sure your addresses that are sent to Google are darn-near perfectly formed.   No more hiding meta in that address 2 field.     If a business does not have a suite named “Attn: Customer Service” as part of their official address don’t put it on there.  It very likely will not geocode.

Yes, we know it used to geocode back in September.  Sorry, folks.  Google changed the rules.

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#2 Locations On The Move

Another special treat, though this is not necessarily of the “too bad, suffer” variety, Google is moving stuff around.  USUALLY for the better.    The latitude and longitude returned from Google seems to be more accurate in many cases.    Not an issue unless you run testing that validates specific latitude and longitudes.

You may want to check any location you updated or recently added, however, to make sure that location that has been on  your map for 3 years is still where you expect it to be.

#3 Map “Jitter”

Yes, Google updated their rendering model again.    In an effort to make things work faster they have also made things work differently.   What used to be hidden recalculations of the viewport now are visible for all to see.  That means you now get to see Google redraw the map, or at least attempt to redraw the map, in real time when your locations are coming back from the server.

There may be a way to postpone the map rendering until AFTER the location list is retrieved, we just don’t know yet.   Google changed something so now we need to change code that has worked well for 2-years to compensate for that and ensure a better visual experience for our customers and our customer’s customers.