Store Locator Plus, a WordPress plugin that makes it easy to add the “enter your zip code to find our stores” map on a website, has improved the initial map rendering and location processing algorithm. The product no longer includes the “center of the country” as a defining point when first rendering the map with the locations. This allows the product to focus the map display around the initial group of locations being displayed with a tighter zoom level. The recent update removes settings that remained in the product for the past 18 months for legacy compatibility. The change was made in the interest of improving the user experience for a majority of the install base as well as new customers.
Single Location Entry
Some of the most notable changes show up when rendering the first entered location on the map. Version 4.2.60 and 4.2.61 vary dramatically on the initial display.
Version 4.2.61 Update
With version 4.2.61 the data queries remain essentially the same, however removing the requirement to drop a home location marker on the map, which happens to be in Coffeyville KS for US-based maps, allows the map to zoom in tighter on a single location. Your location will need to be within 10,000 miles of the center of your country to display. If it is further away you should either set “Center Map At” (User Experience / Map) or change “Radius To Search Initially” (User Experience / Results).
Address based searches, including those that are using the GPS location sensor provided by the Pro Pack add-on , will still drop a home marker at the address entered by the user (or selected by GPS).
Version 4.2.60 Behavior
In version 4.2.60 and earlier, entering a single location would yield a less-than-optimal map display with the map being centered halfway between the center of the USA and the first location brought up by the search.
In version 4.2.60 the locations would be selected using a query that returns the first 25 locations with 10,000 miles of the center of the USA. If you leave the Center Map At entry blank , SLP will set your “starting home location” for the initial search in the center of your country. For the USA this is near Coffeyville KS. The other defaults are to search within 10,000 miles of that location and display the first 25 results.
The map rendering engine would then drop a marker at the home location in Coffeyville KS and from there extend the boundaries to include the locations returned from the search. Think of it as though the edges of the map are one big elastic band with a pin stuck in Coffeyville KS. Every time a new location is added the band stretches and the center of the map changes.
Once all of the location pins are added and the boundary has been stretched the map would then zoom to show the locations. The legacy zoom calculation in SLP 4.2.60 was overly complex and sometimes yielded strange results. In the screen shot above the zoom would go in so far as to not show the home marker in Coffeyville or in Mount Pleasant, as shown here after zooming out EIGHT LEVELS (ouch).
Multiple locations have less variance in the output, but the 4.2.61 experience has been improved. The zoom and boundaries are a simpler calculation which means less overhead on every map rendering whether initial display or subsequent address searches.
With version 4.2.60 the same rules apply to multiple locations, however the zoom algorithm is not as egregiously errant in the calculation. The map shows all 15 locations but still includes the default home marker in Coffeyville KS.
In addition, Store Locator Plus 4.2.62 addresses issues with the manage locations search and sort order, removes more legacy code to reduce the memory footprint and simplify the codebase, and includes minor revisions to the manage locations interface for new installs.