It was recently brought to our attention that the WordPress Plugin Directory had an issue which marked the wrong version of the Maps by Store Locator Plus as the current stable release. As a result, the developer pushed through 4.3.23 as the current version to force the PlugIn directory to update. The WordPress Core teams have been working on plugin directory hooks for the new translate system so it is always possible something was awry on their end.
Installing the older version of the base Plugin, along with a new add-on pack, could result in non-activation of the add-on or performance issues. If you are noticing peculiar behavior or non-functionality it is important to check the release notes and/or the change log at the bottom of applicable news feeds or on Store Locator Plus site. When requesting information or support by posting in the SLP forum or contacting support, it is requested that you provide the version(s) along with your Plugin Environment (see the SLP Info Tab ).
The developer will work with the plugin team at WordPress to alleviate future issues. In the mean time, if you see uncharacteristic behavior when using or installing the plug-in, go to the Plugin versions, select “Other Versions” and download the highest version number (4.3.23 is a newer version than 4.3.21, etc), select to do a manual install.
Meet the Store locator Plus Author, Developer and Charleston Software Associates Founder
Lance is meeting with other WordPress Developers and Users at the Word Press conference and Word Camp in Philadelphia this week. If you have ideas, suggestions , questions or need general help with the SLP plugin (or just want to meet and greet), tweet him, send a “contact us email”, or look for him at any of the Word Camp get-togethers.
Unfortunately, I am not able to attend this one due to other commitments but am hoping to go to one nearby early next year. Charleston Software and Store locator Plus are proud sponsors of Word Camp USA.
A new style ” Beside Myself Again” has been added to the SLP plug-in style directory. Additionally, some of the older styles that are no longer supported will not be displayed as a selection and may not work as well with the current 4.3 versions of the plug-in.
Under Experience/View of the SLP plugin styles, a new feature has been introduced. A thumbnail allows for you to preview how the map will display when selecting one of the SLP styles when save settings is clicked. The Plug-In styles options will be evident if you have one of the add-ons such as Pro Pack, Enhanced Results or other Enhanced SLP add-ons.
The callback setting that allows for a map to still be displayed when the Google Map API server was “busy” has been patched so that if you cleared the lat/long it resets properly. This feature ONLY effects a site when Google was not working when queries were sent to the server and instead sending results to a longitude/latitude of (0,0) which is off the coast of Africa.
SLP 4.3.22 also patches how the SLP Search form Widget interfaced. When re-directing to a WP Map page that had a Store Locator Plus shortcode of “center map at”, the re-direct to the page was not reading the specific SLP shortcode on the page for center_map_at = “address”, and thus not rendering the correct map.
Enhancement: Add Plugin Styles preview images for some of the advanced themes.
Enhancement: Provide a trigger when showing admin interface subpanels for improved admin UI experience with add-on packs.
Enhancement: New Beside Myself Again Plugin Style. Map on left, search and results on right. Works best with The Experience Package of add-ons.
Enhancement: Added support for the new map info bubble footnote setting provided by the Premier add-on.
Fix: Center Map Fallback now gets proper lat/lng when a specific address is used for center map at and the center lat/lng is set to blank.
Fix: Make the Center Map At the default address when loading the map page via Widget references.
Change: Any user that has the update_plugins capability will allow the premium add-on packs to be updated. Prior to 4.3.21 this feature required and admin to have the manage_slp capability.
Change: Older Plugin Styles have been moved to the css/legacy directory including above_and_beyond_nyloboard_01, beside_the_point_2012, default_2014, default_old, default, and twentyfifteen_rev_02. All are superceded with newer versions.
The author has a short video explaining the functions and provides a quick visual reference and explanation. The video mentions version 4.3.21, but it is actually version 4.3.22 which envelopes 4.3.21.
Store Locator Plus 4.3.18
The recent patch to SLP is intended to prevent the endless looping of the geocoding query from your search form to Google. The endless loop may manifest itself as a result of a Google server glitch, and may freeze up your interface, preventing your map from loading at all. This was an issue when the Google server was down and coming back with no results found for locations, thus initiating the query over and over. The recent development is occurring due to changes to the Google Map API and is discussed in the developers video above. 4.3.18 also fixes the default email link that was incorrectly rendering under the results section. Additionally, 4.3.18 adds support for renaming extended data field slugs to improve the Extended Data Manager add-on interface. See the SLP Change Log and the developer’s short video for more information.
Thank you to those forum posters who are working with us when reporting any issues and providing the SLP support team with their Plugin environment.
Enhanced Search , a premium add-on pack for Store Locator Plus, was updated to version 4.2.09 today. Enhanced Search extends the search interface feature set for the WordPress locator plugin adding elements such as auto-created city, state, and country drop down menus to help guide site visitors to physical business locations. The patch addresses an issue with the state drop down menu which uses an improved data query in Store Locator Plus version 4.2.58. The 4.2.09 patch for Enhanced Search ensures the state dropdown is functional with the new improved query.
Sites employing Enhanced Search should upgrade to Store Locator Plus version 4.2.58 and then upgrade Enhanced Search to version 4.2.09.
Store Locator Plus 4.2.48 was released today representing the first step toward an improved admin interface. The current update removes the side panel on all of the Store Locator Plus admin pages and places the submenu links under the main tabs. An update to the location edit/delete/pages icons as well as the info markers on the settings pages in the admin panel also improve mobile interface design. The updated plugin relies on custom font files versus sprite graphics files making for a lighter weight admin interface that renders faster and more consistently across browsers. This is the first step toward an improved admin UI that is planned for development over the next few months.
Users that upgrade to SLP 4.2.48 should also upgrade the Pro Pack and Enhanced Results add-on packs that were released earlier today. The add-on packs will function without updating to the latest release but can override the updated admin interface changes that are part of the base plugin. An update to Store Pages is in testing and will be released soon with similar patches to maintain UI consistency with the base plugin.
SLP 4.2.45 is configured to use a entirely new update system for the premium Store Locator Plus add-on packs. The new system is wholly contained within the WordPress engine and is no longer processing as a separate web services application. The updated system provides a better integration with the plugin metadata which eliminates extra steps in the update release cycle. The new system also makes the web server more efficient as it now can utilize built-in caching and other performance features of the WordPress framework. Security is also improved with the new update system. All add-on packs will automatically convert to the new update system when SLP 4.2.45 is installed.
New Brewery Plugin Theme
A new plugin theme, Brewery v1.0, is included in the latest Store Locator Plus release. Plugin themes included with Store Locator Plus control the look-and-feel of the locator map, search form, and results. Different themes are provided in an effort to provide “out of the box” layouts and color schemes that work with different WordPress themes. The newest Brewery theme was provided by Rescue Themes to create a seamless experience with their Brewery WordPress theme.
Update Language Features
New Dutch and French translations have been added to Store Locator Plus in the past 30 days. The Find Button text is now gettext compatible to make for easier translations on single-language sites. The update also works better with language-switching utilities like WPML. Store Locator Plus has built-in hooks designed to facilitate integration with WPML.
The PHP execution time setting is now applied to the manage locations page. Slower servers would time out when multiple add-on packs, especially Tagalong, were in use and an admin user tried to list 10,000 locations on the list locations page. Servers that allow for real-time manipulation of the PHP execution time setting can change the maximum execution time under general settings, with 0 being “as much time as it needs”. This setting will allow for very long lists to be generated on the list locations page. Other services in the locations plugin also utilize this setting including the location import and export features of the Pro Pack.
Better testing for blank addresses, those with no street, city, state/province, zip/postal code, or country information are handled more efficiently and are prevented from being added in most scenarios. In addition to blank addresses, other core information is validated prior to updating or adding location data.
Store Locator Plus 4.2.35 was released today with several updates aimed at providing a better plugin theme experience.
What is a plugin theme?
For Store Locator Plus the plugin theme, for the most basic configuration, is a CSS file that sets the display of the locations search form, map, and search results. Store Locator Plus ships with over a dozen themes from the most basic versions that allow the WordPress theme to set all of the display element rules. Many WordPress themes, however, do not take into account the styling required for the many display elements that Store Locator Plus injects into the middle of a page. Thus there are Store Locator Plus themes that do more extensive styling by specifying even the smallest CSS details that impact the content that the locator adds to your pages.
More complex themes bury various locator settings in the header of the CSS file. The Store Locator Plus theme system reads the CSS header and uses the settings within to suggest various locator settings. These settings can impact the entire locator layout by changing the basic HTML that locator injects into the middle of your page when using the slplus shortcode. By employing the Pro Pack (overall shortcode HTML layout), Enhanced Search (search form layout), Enhanced Map (map and info bubble layout), and Enhanced Results (results layout) the more advanced locator themes can drastically change the locator look-and-feel with a single click of the “apply settings” button on the admin panel.
The latest version of Store Locator Plus no longer CHANGES the default theme CSS file. In a “why didn’t I think of this sooner?” (years ago) moment, the default theme process was changed. In prior releases the default theme was always named default.css and was known as the “Default Theme”. The problem is that was always the starting look-and-feel for a fresh Store Locator Plus install. When WordPress releases a new version the default theme changes. Often the default Store Locator Plus theme needs to be tweaked to look its best. However changing the default theme CSS would then change how the locator looks on many installations that left the locator theme set to default. The result was that for fresh installs on the latest WordPress Theme the install looked better. However MOST sites do not use the default theme and even minor changes to the locator CSS rules could create havoc on the user interface. As of version 4.2.35, the default theme can be ANY NAME. For example, with the 4.2.35 release a fresh install will set the default theme to the “Twenty Fifteen Rev 02” CSS file. People that already have a theme selected, including “Default”, the them will NOT CHANGE. EVER AGAIN, unless they specifically set a new CSS file as their selected theme. This new methodology for setting a default theme of any name will allow future releases to create new theme files that fit the latest-and-greatest WordPress default theme without being disruptive to prior installs.
Now to figure out why customers with custom CSS themes are not having those themes automatically retained. That is on the “shrot list” for a future patch.
What Else Is New?
The location search performance is significantly improved for sites that use the “Ignore Radius” and “Ignore Radius if Address Empty” settings. This is a notable change in the query engine that will allow future add-on packs to build custom queries without creating site lag as more query types are added to the product. One immediate side effect is the forthcoming Enhanced Search autocomplete features. More on autocomplete in a future blog post.
The latest release of Store Locator Plus, version 4.2.23, fixes the automatic WordPress update notification system for the premium add-on packs. The prior versions would not always report when an update was available for the add-on packs. Without the inline notifications provided by the WordPress admin panel the only option to perform an update was to perform a manual installation. The latest patch will significantly improve premium add-on updates for Store Locator Plus.
Also, in this release, DeBaat provided patches that fix the shortcode attributes for homeicon and endicon, allowing each WordPress page or post that uses the [[slplus]] shortcode to override the default icons for the home and destination markers.
Store Locator Plus version 4.2.17 was released today. The latest update has minor administrative updates as well as code refactoring for the add locations process. The updates should have no noticeable impact for typical users. Developers that have integrated the Store Locator Plus locations into other projects may need to update their code to accommodate the change of location in the location geocoding methods. Other updates in the Store Locator Plus plugin are related to administrative UI elements, adding new features to allow for dynamic updating of input fields to be disabled and enabled based on drop down selections. This can be useful for add-on packs with complex administrative setting interactions.
This update should not impact the administrative or user experience. The release is primarily to support new features in add-on packs such as the forthcoming Pro Pack schedule location imports.
If you are using class.adminui.locations.php in your add-on pack or custom code and are calling any of the location add or geocoding methods you will need to require class.location.php. You can check the new class.location.php code to obtain revised method names for adding and geocoding locations. The most-oft-used method in the locations class is the add_to_database() method. If you have questions or problems please ask to join the CSA Slack channel via the contact form on the CSA website.
How Search Changed
The search processor has changed significantly in the current release of Store Locator Plus. In testing the changes have not indicated unintended consequences caused by the change, however the behavior of certain location searches will be different. The biggest change is that the automatic centering of the map uses an improved algorithm. The new algorithm does NOT use prior searches as the “anchor point” for subsequent searches.
The impact of the change is especially notable on sites that utilize the advanced search features provided by the Enhanced Search add-on pack. In situations where the address input field is hidden and a simple city, state, or country selector is provided ; the search will automatically center on the locations that are displayed by the search action. In prior releases the past search address, or center of map setting set for the initial search, would always be included. If the center of the map was set to Charleston SC, USA and you selected “United Kingdom” from a country drop down your map would center over the Atlantic Ocean and be zoomed out from the UK locations. The new release will forget the original Charleston SC location and zoom in closer to the UK locations. Based on the feedback from the Store Locator Plus community, this is the desired behavior.
This can pose a new issue, however. The distance shown in the results output is based on the current home, or center-of-map location. When the address field is hidden or remains empty the distances shown are always from the default center of the map. In situations where a site is designed with the address search field hidden, it is recommended that the designer use the Results Layout of Enhanced Results and remove the distance field from the output.
Google API Key Change
Map markers now show the location name when you hover over them.
The minimum zoom level on the map is now set to 1, eliminating the “double world” image when zoomed out too far.
The Swedish language files are not included in the Store Locator Plus distribution.
Location images are now shown on the manage locations table if they are set.
Fixed a bug where searches would not execute if ignore radius was on, the radius selector was hidden, and the address field was hidden.
Removed the home marker on secondary searches when the address field is blank.
Store Locator Plus 4.2.05 passed final testing and is now available to the general public. In addition to some behind-the-scenes updates to help create better add-on pack features, there are some notable updates in the current release.
Better Geocoding Settings
A new server-to-server speed setting under General Settings allows users to increase the amount of time Store Locator Plus will wait for an answer from Google when geocoding locations. If your server is on a network with a lot of congestion, such as a heavy-usage shared server, you can now tell Store Locator Plus to wait a little longer for an answer from Google. This will increase the number of properly geocoded locations when adding new locations manually or via the Pro Packbulk import process.
In prior releases of Store Locator Plus the add locations process would wait only 3 seconds for a response from Google. Plenty of time for most servers but not for ALL servers. The default is now set to wait 10 seconds via the “Normal” setting. If that is not getting your locations geocoded on a regular basis you can elect to go with the “Slow” setting and increase the wait to 30 seconds, or choose “Fast” for a 3-second wait.
In most cases Google will respond in under 1 second and this setting will have no effect. The settings is primarily for servers with intermittent or consistently slow server-to-server communications.
Advanced Result Layout Support
Version 4.2.05 has improved the results layout string processor, adding the more extensible shortcode format from the info bubble processor to below-the-map results strings. Users will now have the ability to add things like special formatting such as “decimal1” or “sanitize” to any location field that is output, adding post-data suffixes like adding a “br” HTML element or comma only if a data field is set, and output a wide array of Store Locator Plus option values right in the location search results that appear under the map.
In between fixing Windows laptops and Microsoft servers, followed immediately by setting up a new Apple laptops and Amazon AWS servers, I have managed to write some code. What have I been working on? Mostly getting caught up on overdue paid customization projects. The BIG ONE right now is an automated city directory builder. That project has precipitated some changes.
This is a big version update without a lot of new “on-the-surface” features. Some of the biggest changes are “under the covers” and deal with the add on pack subsystem. There are now a dozen add-on packs from CSA as well as several from other authors. More authors are interested in writing add-on packs. While many follow the “general template” of other add-on packs there has been no standard to follow.
SLP 4.2 adds a standard set of base classes on which new add-on packs will be built. Older add-on packs will be upgraded to also use this new standard set of base classes.
What does this mean for you? A faster Store Locator Plus installation that uses less memory and less disk. Since a lot of the core pieces of the add-on packs will reside in a single set of code there is far less redundancy. Less redundancy means a smaller footprint. A smaller footprint leads to a faster site.
In addition to being smaller and faster, the add-on packs will become more resilient. They will have fewer inconsistencies. They will be able to communicate with the base plugin and the other add-on packs efficiently and become more intelligent about “what the other parts are doing”. This creates a more durable application with fewer problems. It will also allow for more rapid development which leads to more features and add-on packs.
A note about the SLP 4.2 update:
The 4.2 release of Store Locator Plus has some changes that impacts compatibility with some add on packs. If you have not already upgraded the Pro Pack and Janitor you should do so and read the blog post about it. If you do not upgrade to the “interim release” that works with both SLP 4.1 and the upcoming SLP 4.2 upgrade then you may break your site. The other option is to wait until SLP 4.2 comes out and prior to upgrading deactivate & delete the Pro Pack and Janitor, upgrade to SLP 4.2, then upgrade to the LATEST VERSION of Pro Pack and Janitor.
Directory Builder 4.2
Directory Builder is a new add-on pack that augments a paid customization project for a Store Locator Plus client. The Directory Builder brings a suite of tools to the Store Locator Plus installation that are designed to help guide your users to your locations and build SEO-friendly content. The current iteration of the add-on pack brings a new [[slp_directory]] short code to your Store Locator Plus installation. This short code can be used to build a list of location properties, such as a list of cities or a list of countries, that you can display on your site. Any of the Store Locator Plus fields can be displayed on the list. The count of locations that have that property can also be displayed on the list.
In addition, “intelligent locator links” can be added when using the city, state, or country property as the list field. These 3 list types use the same concept as the discrete search, available in Enhanced Search, to bring up your locator page and auto-search for the city, state, or country that the user clicked on from the directory list. To prevent spoofing and reduce page scraping, the links are automatically verified using the nonce system in WordPress to ensure the links came from within your site. When a validated directory link is used to reach your locator page the search will automatically enter a “directory search mode”. Directory search mode turns on immediate mode to show results as soon as the page is rendered, turns off the location sensor, ignores the radius setting, and performs a discrete (exact match) search to show all locations that are in the specified city, state, or zip.
More features will be coming to Directory Builder. Keep an eye on the blog, product pages, and documentation for more details.
Directory Builder requires SLP 4.2.
Enhanced Search 4.2
While working the the Directory Builder, Enhanced Search has also had some updates that address some of the address search functional issues. With the new update to Enhanced Search the locator map will now go into immediate mode and show results as soon as the map is drawn. The use of the address in the URL will also turn off the location sensor automatically. To enable addresses in the URL you need to turn on the “Allow Address In URL” setting under the General Settings tab.
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:
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.
A full-featured location management system for your WordPress site. This plugin will add location search and mapping to your site. Place a shortcode on any page to display the search form, map, and location listings. Premium add-ons extend the feature set in an ala-carte fashion. Select only those add-on packs you need to build on the base plugin.
The Enhanced Map add-on pack provides more control over the map element of the locator user interface. The goal of Enhanced Map is to provide admin settings that make it easier to change the look and feel of the map enabling a custom user experience with minimal effort.
The Enhanced Results add-on pack provides more control over the location results in the locator user interface. The goal of Enhanced Results is to provide admin settings that make it easier to change the look and feel of the map enabling a custom user experience with minimal effort.
Enhanced Search provides more control over the search form on the locator user interface. The goal of Enhanced Search is to provide admin settings that make it easier to change the look and feel of the search form, enabling a custom user experience with minimal effort.
The Janitor add-on pack cleans up installation variables from the Store Locator Plus base plugin and add-on packs. This interface allows you to view the raw option values in the WordPress options table for the plugin and optionally delete all the settings. Be careful, this is a destructive process and will reset all your options to blank for the Store Locator Plus plugin. Does not remove locations.
Yes, this IS a SLP4 compatible add-on pack. The version will be bumped to 4.0.0X in a future release.
Most of the patches in Pro Pack 4.0.014 are related to the search form interface for Pro Pack tags. Two new [slp_search_element ] attributes allow users of Enhanced Search to place the tag selector where they want it on the search form. The location has also been modified in the base plugin to appear above the radius and submit buttons.
Enhancement: Pro Pack reports version to Info / Plugin Environment tab.
Enhancement: Pro Pack tags are back in results output. May require reset of default results layout.
Enhancement: Pro Pack tags are back in info bubble output. May require reset of default info bubble layout.
Enhancement: Added [[slp_search_element dropdown_with_label=”tag”]] search layout element to position tag drop down.
Enhancement: Added [[slp_search_element selector_with_label=”tag”]] to allow hidden, drop down, or text input for tags.
Fix: [[slplus only_with_tag]] now works even if show tags on search is not enabled.
Change: Tag Input checkbox no longer auto-adds tag input to end of form, it is positioned directly above the radius/submit button.
Change: Verbiage on UX/Pro Pack panel for tag label and preselected tag searches.
The Super Extendo add-on pack allows other add-on packs to extend the location data without bloating the core location data table. The only feature at the moment is extending the Enhanced Results add-on pack to add the featured and rank settings for locations.
If you have duplicate locations from prior edits you can retain the main location data but will lose the featured/ranked status by deleting all records in the wp_slp_extendo table. This will eliminate the duplicate location entries.
Fix: Duplicate locations created when editing an existing location.
Tagalong adds managed categories to the Store Locator Plus locations. The managed categories allow for custom per-category map markers and icons which can be enabled on the map interface and in the search results for your locations.