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.
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?
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.
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.
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>