For the past two weeks I’ve been doing a LOT of work on a site for a customer, mostly modifying and improving the machinery behind the data extensions in Pro Pack and the new Super Extendo plugin that allow extra information to be attached to Store Locator Plus locations.
Along the way an sudden and unexpected family emergency came up right before the Thanksgiving holiday that took me offline for much longer than anticipated. Between being “deep in the code” followed by family crisis management I’ve been falling way behind on monitor the support forums. I hope to catch up soon if no other issues arise. It also makes it clear that the volume of support requests and customer inquiries both on the forums and coming into my email may warrant a support subscription so I can bring another person up-to-speed on the project and have them help answer questions at least for a couple of hours each day.
The new add-on pack that is coming out this week is called “Contact Extender“. This add-on pack adds a number of new fields to the Store Locator Plus location data when it is installed and activated. It does require the Super Extendo add-on pack that must be installed and activated BEFORE installing and activating Contact Extender. If I’ve managed to setup the WooCommerce product configuration properly the purchase of Contact Extender will include the Super Extendo product with the purchase.
The fields that Contact Extender adds to the built-in Store Locator Plus location fields includes:
- First Name
- Last Name
- Facility Type
- Office Phone
- Mobile Phone
- Contact Fax
- Contact Email
- Office Hours
- Contact Address
These fields are all added on a one-to-one relationship, meaning there can be only one Contact, First Name, or Department added to each location.
The Identifier field is a field that has special meaning during data import via the Pro Pack. If the Store Locator Plus ID field (id or sl_id in the column header) is blank or not present then the data import will fall back to the Identifier field in Contact Extender to match location data and determine if the import should be updating an existing record with the same ID. This provides a simple mechanism for Pro Pack import to update pre-existing Store Locator Plus locations when using an external database that may have location ids that differ from the Store Locator Plus system.
This is the first of several planned “data extender” add-on packs for Store Locator Plus. If you have an idea for additional data fields you would like to see in an add-on pack, please contact me or share on the forums.
With the new add-on pack, Super Extendo also received additional patches and features. Super Extendo is the underlying framework for extending the Store Locator Plus data set. It works by adding extra data fields only when other add-on packs have been installed and activated. This keeps the core data set to a minimal set of fields, which speeds up data operations for sites that do not require the extra weight of “a bazillion extra data fields”. As new extended data add-on packs come out, you can install only those that best meet your data needs and not have a lot of unnecessary disk space and performance overhead for fields you may never use.
However, once Super Extendo and any of the data extender add-on packs are activated, the extended data fields become fully integrated with the base Store Locator Plus data, working as if they were native data elements in the base plugin. If you ever find you don’t need the extra data or don’t want the overhead you can deactivate Super Extendo and the processing overhead goes away.
In the latest 4.1.x release of Super Extendo there are a number of patches and updates to facilitate new data extender add-on packs. The new version also has a significantly lower (10MB+ per viewer) memory impact on the web page that serves up your Store Locator Plus map.
In addition to the new add-on pack and patches to Super Extendo, some problems with IE rendering on the base plugin, issues with map geocoding in the base plugin, and several other problems have been addressed in the upcoming 4.0.031 release of Store Locator Plus. Testing on the new patches and add-on packs starts tonight. If all goes well updates will be published in the next 24-48 hours.