This past week we published an updated version of the base Store Locator Plus® WordPress plugin for version 5.12.4. This patch allows Store Locator Plus® to run in PHP 8 environments despite WordPress itself clearly stating PHP 8 is NOT officially supported in the core WordPress install.
Unfortunately you still need to go to our main WordPress site to get the latest release. The WordPress plugin team has yet to approve our plugin for listing in the direct despite providing a patch for the initial security concern during the summer of 2021.
Speaking of Relisting…
We have been working on literally hundreds of code changes to meet the new strict demands of the WordPress plugin team. They insisted on a full code scan and review of all data I/O calls and required that we publish hundreds of escaping and sanitizing methods throughout. While some of these updates did help close potential security holes, many of the changes flagged by the “AI bot code sniffer” were not true security weaknesses; This highlights a notable concern when humans employ digital intelligence tools to make decisions — but that is a debate for another day.
For now, we have spent hundreds of hours running the scanning tools we found for analyzing the code, evaluating thousands of warnings, and addresses dozens of legitimate concerns. We worked around hundreds of false flags in the reports. The end result is a new version of the base plugin that is a good bit more secure against potential security issues.
The latest problems uncovered in testing have not come about from our security updates, but uncovered fundamental breaking changes in WordPress core. WordPress has put the emphasis on block themes and the supporting core utilities that support them. This has broken fundamental features of WordPress and has changed the order of precedence in which their hooks-and-filters are called. This leads to notably different behavior in plugins and themes — not just Store Locator Plus®. Thankfully our QA team has found the issues with these new WordPress behaviors before we released our latest update and we have been working diligently to resolve them. Our hope is the new 5.13 release not only passes the WordPress security scan but also works better than our 5.12 release when it comes to new block-based themes while retaining full compatibility with legacy themes.
With that said, we are hoping to pass our QA tests soon and have a new 5.13 release officially listed in the WordPress plugin directory. Then we can start focusing on new features and a user experience overhaul that all of our customers can enjoy — including our SaaS customers.
Speaking of the SaaS version, thankfully none of these security things impact the SaaS version. For those of you that switched over to the Saas release — we’ll have new features and UX updates coming your way later this year!
It has been a while since we’ve had updates for the Store Locator Plus® plugin and SaaS service. We’ve been busy over the past year adding new development staff and getting them up-to-speed in order to address new demands presented by the WordPress Plugin Team in order to get Store Locator Plus® re-listed in the plugin directory. Their demands to shore up potential weaknesses in the main plugin turned out to be a major project.
Over the past 8 months the development team has updated nearly 1,000 lines of code in the base plugin. It is important to note that these changes did NOT fix known security breaches or exploits; The changes were done primarily to address hypothetical what-if security concerns in the plugin. While the updates do little to improve security of the plugin and have a minor negative impact on performance, the changes were necessary in order to meet the new WordPress Plugin Team guidelines for getting our plugin re-listed.
Finally, after 8 months of effort we are nearing the finish line. We are now testing an updated 5.13.X prerelease version of the Store Locator Plus® plugin. Once we have finished our own internal testing and all base functionality has been approved, we will re-submit the plugin for re-listing on the WordPress directory.
While this is a milestone that has been in the works for a long time, it is only the first step in many new changes that are planned for the coming year. Our lead architect, along with the rest of the development team, have a lot of great new ideas to improve our product. The 10-year-old technology is ready for an overhaul using modern standards. A vastly improved user experience is in the works as well as a much improved turn-key experience with a tighter WordPress Plugin integration with our SaaS platform.
We are excited to get past this year-long maintenance and security cycle and start building new things for our customers.
In the meantime, if anyone is interested in helping us test the prerelease version of Store Locator Plus® 5.13, please reach out via the contact form and we’ll send you an early release at no charge. Our Premier Subscription holders can already download the prerelease from their account downloads page.
We appreciate your patience while we get things rebooted on the WordPress directory. We look forward to providing improved user experiences and application performance in the coming months.
The security improvements are based on feedback from the user community and are not related to direct reports of security threats. The security concerns only impact users of the self-managed WordPress plugins. The vast majority of the work was done on administrative access and sanitizing of input values. SaaS users are not impacted by these issues.
- Enterprise clients using cluster map markers may have experience map outages , this is resolved.
- Enterprise clients using the location loading indicator set to ‘circle’ had issues with the map not displaying, this is resolved.
Updating Your Location Software
The Software as a Service version of the application was updated overnight. Users of the SaaS platform do not need to take any action to receive the latest features and patches.
The above issues also impacted all WordPress plugin users and require updating to the latest release. The folks at WordPress.com have yet to approve our latest updates and re-list the main plugin. You’ll need to manually uninstall and re-install the main Store Locator Plus® plugin, which can be purchased from our WordPress plugin store.