WordPress PHP 8.1 Compatibility August 2022

We have received a couple of reports about Store Locator Plus® for WordPress not working with PHP 8.1.  The  WordPress PHP 8.1 compatibility is officially listed as “not compatible” in January 2022 and remains that way today (August 20th, 2022).   There is no official release date for WordPress on PHP 8.0 or PHP 8.1 at this time.

Officially WordPress supports PHP 7.4.  As such, Store Locator Plus® for WordPress is only officially supported on PHP 7.4.

Users of the Store Locator Plus® SaaS service don’t have to worry about this. We’ve taken care of ensuring the location service is running on a stable platform

WordPress PHP 8.0 Status

However, we have tested WordPress on PHP 8.0 along with the latest release of theStore Locator Plus® for WordPress plugin.  It does appear to be working normally without notable warnings or errors.   While not officially supported, we do believe you can run WordPress and Store Locator Plus® for WordPress on PHP 8.0 without any issues.   With that in mind, we are providing support and patching services for the Store Locator Plus® for WordPress with PHP 8.0 installations.

Store Locator Plus® Updates On The Way

Store Locator Plus® recently hired a new developer to help work on both front end and back end code.  It is part of a renewed focus on providing routine monthly updates to the Store Locator Plus® platform.    Changes will roll out slowly at first, with a focus on the WordPress plugins as our new development team learns the ins-and-outs of the platform.   Our end goal is to vastly improve the platform with several key objectives in sight — to improve overall security, to improve the performance, and most importantly to improve the user experience.

Store Locator Plus® 5.7 was recently released to the WordPress community with several key security updates.   These updates will help ensure proper data security and integrity on sites that run the standalone WordPress plugin offering.   The security updates are automatically being included in the SaaS platform and require no action on the part of our SaaS platform users.

We are working on version 5.8 for both the WordPress plugins and the SaaS platform, which will include further security updates as well as some JavaScript performance updates as we start to employ new coding standards in the JavaScript engine.

Once we get the foundation solid, we will start working on the User Experience and feature requests.   If there is something you’d like to see in our SaaS offering, please let us know in the forums or by reaching out to us via the email form.

How To Make A Map

how to make a map

There are thousands of articles describing how to make a map. There are a plenty of tutorials and descriptions — mostly about how to use Google Maps to accomplish this. Unfortunately a good number of those How To articles and videos focus on how to use the maps.google.com site to make your own version of a Google Map. A map that they host and control access to — which means it can change or go away at any time. Or Google can even decide to start suddenly charging fees for this free service — much like they did with Google Maps API Keys.

Making Maps The Hard Way

If you get beyond the “here is how to login to Google Maps and add your places to THEIR maps” articles you may find some “How To Make YOUR OWN Map” content. If you are running a website and want to put a map in your content, these articles are a good start. This is the type of “map making” you want to be looking into if you want to have a map on your site where you control a lot more of the look-and-feel. More importantly you control which PLACES appear on the map.

Typically you’ll start with getting to know the Google Maps JavaScript API. The How To articles will describe how to embed the basic JavaScript snippet on your site to get the map to appear. A little more coding and you can even drop your own maps pins on that map.

Making Maps The Hard Way
Making Maps The Hard Way

Once you get your map up-and-running you’ll soon find that you are looking for even more articles. Articles that take you deeper into things like “how to hide the places Google force-feeds onto your site” — sometimes showing competitors locations alongside yours. Or articles on how to change the marker style. Or hide secondary roads.

Before long you are months-deep into full-blown map development. If you can do these things yourself you may only be spending time. Often businesses are paying a web developer or web marketing agency a fairly hefty fee as they learn map building for your site.

Making Things A Little Easier

Thankfully many web presence service like WordPress, Weebly, Wix, and Squarespace offer pre-built solutions. Some of these solutions are free but you pay for add-on services — much like the way our Store Locator Plus® WordPress plugins work. Nearly all of these services also require you obtain your own Google API Keys; Google has gotten too expensive for many of these pre-built map solution providers to include an “all you can eat buffet” of map views in their one-time purchase pricing.

Store Locator Plus® Map Software for WordPress
Store Locator Plus® Map Software for WordPress

These pre-packaged management tools make it a lot easier to build and display a map on your site. Often you can upgrade to versions of these apps to provide access to the HTML, CSS, and advanced JavaScript rules to fully customize the user experience. Some tools even make a lot of the most-used features a simple mouse-click option on a menu of user experience options.

How To Make A Map – The Easy Way

While pre-packaged map making software can save a lot of time and money over build-it-yourself maps, it still requires you or your web team to manage things like Google API Keys. You’ll want to know how to properly secure those keys so nobody else can steal them from your web source code. Not too mention you’ll want to keep a close eye on your billing and web traffic — at $7 per 1,000 map views and geocoding requests it can add up quickly to hundreds-of-dollars per month in Google fees.

There is another option that takes the map software a step further. Software as a Service apps are popping up every day. These services are often far easier to use than working with Google directly. All of the better solutions completely manage your Google API keys while providing the flexibility and power available in the self-managed apps.

Store Locator Plus® map maker saas
Store Locator Plus® map maker saas

Many of our WordPress plugin users have found that moving over to our SaaS offering has freed up resources. They no longer are paying web experts to upgrade and update plugins. Make sure backups are saving their hours-and-hours of data entry in case one of those updates goes wrong. They also can stop worrying about security and people snarfing their Google API keys from their site.

Instead, they get to focus on their business. Building their products. Improving their services. And hopefully adding new locations to their maps as they grow.