Latest News

28th November 2016
Geocoding SOS!

New geocoding SOS service Geocoding is the process of converting an address into map coordinates. Today's geocoding technology has come a long way from its humble beginnings, but every now and then there's still an address that stumps it.

To help in such situations we're introducing a new 'Geocode SOS' service, and it couldn't be simpler. A new button has appeared on the store location editor screen - helpfully called "Geocode SOS". If you're struggling to get the address to geocode correctly just click the button and it sends us a help request. We'll then attempt to edit the address for you so it geocodes (and we usually manage to fix it!). Hope you find this new feature useful :)

1st November 2016
Version 3.9 update

No major new features for version 3.9 but enhancements include:

  • If you access your Blipstar account on a mobile we've improved the experience and made it easier to navigate the site.
  • You can now map Tags onto Icons. This means you don't need to define separate values for Tags and Icons, you can simply choose an Icon to use for different Tag values.
  • If your store locator covers multiple countries and you have the country menu turned on, you can now automatically select the country based on the user's IP address. It's about 98% accurate too.
  • It's now possible to define default values for fields. If a particular store location has a value defined that will be used, otherwise the default value will be displayed.
2nd October 2016
Version 3.8 update
New mapping backgrounds include 'Dark street map'

For version 3.8 the latest round of enhancements include:

  • New mapping background options (Light Street map, Dark street map, Natural landscape)
  • Temporary login (grant someone temporary access to your account i.e. a developer)
  • Compact results view (only show location names in the results, with option to click on name to get full store info)
  • Improved Tag display (define separate tags and tag labels)
9th August 2016
Blipstar is 10 years old!

Blipstar is celebrating its 10th Birthday this month! We're celebrating ten years of Blipstar this month. A decade on the Internet is a long, long time (think cat years!). Things were pretty different back in August 2006 when Blipstar was launched...

  • Nobody used Facebook (apart from students at selected universities)
  • Twitter was less than a month old
  • The US population was less than 300 million (it's since increased by 25 million)
  • Tony Blair was UK Prime Minister
  • Steve Irwin (Australian TV presenter and environmentalist) was still alive

A big thank you to our users for making this anniversary possible, we don't take it for granted. Here's to the next ten years!

27th June 2016
Version 3.7 released

The new 3.7 release adds some new settings and info on Facebook integration and mobile devices.

When you add an application to your Facebook page it won't be displayed when viewed on mobile devices (we don't know why Facebook do this, but c'est la vie). We've added some instructions on how to add a handy link to your Facebook page to get around this limitation.

26th February 2016
Version 3.6 released
Defining field display for store locator results

Our latest release consists of the usual tweaks and the following new features:

  • Fields displayed in the Results can now be manually configured (you can define what fields get shown (Name Address, Phone etc.), and in what order)
  • If you use Google Docs and store your location data in a Google Sheet you can now import them directly (so not just Excel and CSV files)
  • You can add a Captcha to the search interface (e.g. if you're worried about a software bot scraping your location data)

If you have a lot of info to show for each store location you can also use tabs to make it neater and use less screen real estate.

7th January 2016
Version 3.5 released

First up, a Happy New Year to you! New base-mapping forms the key update in the latest release. As a bonus, the store locator viewing software loads faster too.

A new map layout option, "floating", is also available which consists of the map with a floating, draggable results panel on top.

Happy mapping!

  {
    "n": "Wonderland Store",
    "ad": "10 Made Up Drive, MA, 91867, United States",
    "p": "(555) 123 4567",
    "w": "www.madeupsite.com/wonderland/product2",
    "m1": "Now Open Sundays!",
    "dist": "6.5",
    "lat": 42.310687,
    "lng": -71.180077
	...
28th November 2015
New API (Application Programming Interface) available

Developers wanting an easy way to programmatically access their store data now have a simple new option - the Blipstar API! A simple HTTP GET request is all it takes to get a list of nearest stores in handy JSON format, ordered by distance. There are a range of accepted parameters and you can be up and running in minutes.

Currently access is read-only (so you can't use API to edit or alter your store data) although this feature may be added in the future, so watch this space.

For more info view the API instructions page (ideally when logged in).

11th November 2015
Release of version 3.4

As our service continues to expand we've recently been working behind the scenes to upgrade the infrastructure to ensure every locator works quickly and smoothly. A smart new spatial indexing algorithm has been introduced for accounts with lots of locations which has eeked out even more performance.

In addition this latest release offers lots of small refinements and tweaks, many suggested by our users who use Blipstar in different ways and have different requirements.

8th September 2015
New clustering function deals with lots of locations - version 3.3
Store locator clustering screenshot

Modern web browsers are very capable but even with the latest tech they struggle to display hundreds or thousands of map markers without slowing...down...to...a...standstill.

For the latest release (v3.3) a new clustering function addresses this issue by displaying a useful overview of all locations (denoted by appropriately sized circles and the number of stores they represent). Clicking on a circle zooms in on the area and gives more detail, down to individual stores, providing a balance between usability and performance.

Other new features for this release include the ability to create additional accounts from within your main account. Adventurous types can now also change the underlying map appearance (color of roads etc) and the mobile viewing experience has been enhanced too.

10th August 2015
New Deployment Wizard makes publishing your store locator even easier
Store locator deployment wizard screenshot

With well over 100 options available to customize your store locator integrating it within a website can be a little daunting.

In response we've replaced the current publishing information with a simple Deployment Wizard that guides you through the process one step at a time. With just a few mouse clicks Blipstar generates all the required code - all you need to do is copy and paste it.

This approach makes it easy to have different front-ends to your store locator. For example you might have a dedicated store locator page showing a map with all your locations on it, but also a little 'Enter your zip code' widget appear in the menu bar on every page. It should be noted that all the existing settings remain the same, the deployment wizard simply provides an extra layer on top that hides some of the complexities.

22nd July 2015
Version 3.2 released
Overview map example

This month we've concentrated on squeezing out every last drop of performance so your store locator returns results as fast as possible. Several techniques have been used to achieve the increase in speed, and our calculations suggest many results now return 50% faster. We won't stop there of course, but it's a start!

We've also streamlined the store locator engine by combining the "desktop" and "smartphone" views and use responsive design so when the screen size falls below a certain width it automatically alters the layout for improved usability on mobile devices. The text-only view remains so additional-needs users and those with low-bandwidth still enjoy easy access to your store locator.

In addition we've added a range of smaller enhancements including the ability to add a small overview map (in the lower-right corner, see the example image) to provide some geographic context and you can now enter your Google Analytics or Bing tag ID to improve your analytics capability. Lastly you can also display distances to stores based on drive-time rather than straight-line distance (up to a maximum of 5 store locations).

7th July 2015
Analytics

Just to let you know in order to keep the service running nice and smoothly Analytics is no longer available to users with 25 locations or less.

For any accounts with more than 25 locations it's business as usual!

23rd April 2015
Say hello to version 3.1

For the latest version of Blipstar, just released, we've added two useful features.

First up is an option designed to deal with the situation when someone enters a search term that's a little ambiguous. They now get a list a possible places to click in case the best guess of where they meant was wrong. For example if someone enters "Washington" it's most likely they're interested in Washington, DC but there are in fact a number of smaller Washingtons, and they'd be presented with a "Did you mean?" list of alternatives.

Secondly, the results that appear next to the map can dynamically update when the map is moved. Any results that fall outside the viewport (when a user zooms in for example) become hidden in the results panel so they get to see the most relevant results at a glance. For convenience they can click a link to reveal any currently hidden results at any time again. There's also an option that fetches a new set of results (based on the new map center).

As always, if you have any neat feature ideas let us know!

26th March 2015
Version 3.0 now operational
Icon groups

Aside from the usual 'kaizen' we have two big additions in version three point zero: labels and icon groups.

1. You can now add labels to the store icons shown on the map, opting to show the store name or one of the miscellaneous fields. Why is this useful? Viewing key info at a glance on the map itself saves your customers having to refer to the results panel to see the store they want to visit.

2. It's always been possible to use different icons for different stores (using external images) but we've now made the process easier than ever. Instead of showing the same icon for all stores you can upload different icons and assign them a group name. Then, in a store's Icon field you simply enter the icon group name and it'll use that image in your locator. See the image above-right for the kind of thing we mean - no more messing around with external images and URLs!

We've also overhauled the Configuration page to make it (even) more intuitive. There's always a balancing act between keeping things simple and offering a wide range of options; we think v3.0 is our best effort yet, although we'll never stop honing... Another neat little feature added to the mix: store-specific radius values. This allows you to increase (or decrease) the influence of a particular store in terms of search distance. Say, for example, someone searches for your stores within 10 miles. A store is located 12 miles away, but it's Radius value is set as 20 miles - it therefore appears in the results. Simple, but powerful!

5th March 2015
Planned infrastructure upgrade - coming soon

This is a heads-up that in the near future we're upgrading our hardware infrastructure (to ensure your store locators load nice and quickly and to cater for the expanding user-base). What does this mean for you? Well utlimately it should make your store locators whizz along nicely, and there'll be a short period of time when you won't be able to change your settings or upload locations. During that time your locator will still be online, so there won't be any interruption in service.

The date hasn't been finalized but we'll let you know as soon as it's been decided.

10th January 2015
New Payment Processing option - Stripe
Stripe

We're pleased to announce a new payment option for Blipstar subscribers - Stripe. The New-Kid-on-the-Payments-Block offers a very slick and simple way to pay securely using a credit card in over 150 countries. In tests we were able to complete transactions in well under a minute, so it certainly ticks the convenience box.

By default payments are still handled by industry veteran PayPal, but if you'd prefer an alternative provider (and quite a few customers were requesting this) then Stripe should do nicely. Yay for choice!

24th December 2014
Merry Christmas to all our users!

A King is born Whatever you're doing over the festive season, we hope all our customers have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Although a joyful occasion for many it can also be a stressful, difficult or sad time. But whatever situation you're in we hope the true meaning of Christmas will bring you comfort and hope as we enter a new year.

13th December 2014
Version 2.10

Version 2.10 is now live. This update includes several feature requests made by various users and a few other minor enhancements.

21st October 2014
New CSS options and exporting to Google Local Search

New inline CSS option You've been able to define the CSS for your store locator using an external file for a while now, but for users without the technical know-how there's a new simpler option - inline CSS. You can now enter CSS directly in the Configure page (when logged in) without the hassle of updating and referencing an external file on your server.

We also have written a short article on local search, how your business can benefit from it and what Blipstar can do to help.

8th October 2014
Version 2.9 - we have lift-off

If Blipstar were a rocket the latest release would now be hurtling into the far reaches of space! It isn't. But the new version is definitely out of this world! Okay, we'll stop.
Salesforce store locator The big news with v2.9 is Salesforce integration and user-added locations. That's right - any location data in your Salesforce account can now be used directly within Blipstar store locator. We've made it a simple process and are keen to hear your feedback and ideas on how improve it. It can also sync automatically every 24 hours - so no more manually uploading spreadsheets! The new Salesforce import wizard is available from the Upload & Edit locations screen.

If you don't know (or care) what Salesforce is don't worry, you've not been forgotten. A major new addition is the ability to allows your users to submit locations themselves. By adding a single line of code to a page you get a web form where people can fill in and submit store details. To avoid a free-for-all all submissions require you, as the account admin, to accept or reject them. It's simple, and it works. Don't forgot there's also the option to let users edit specific locations (if you let them know the password).

Plus, there are also the usual host of small improvements and features, in direct response to your suggestions. So keep 'em coming.

As always, everyone gets access to the latest version automatically, so no action is required.

2nd July 2014
New easy-to-use Colored markers
Adding different color markers for different store types is now super-simple.
Blue map marker Green map marker Orange map marker

We're all for making life easier. You've always been able to define different markers for different stores but a new simpler option is now available. How does it work? Well, Blipstar accepts a column called Icon. If you enter a color in the Icon field for each store it will appear on the map using a relevant marker (e.g. "blue"). That's it!

Currently recognized colors are: red, orange, yellow, green, lightgreen, blue, lightblue, cyan, purple, pink, brown, gray, black and white.

7th June 2014
Version 2.8 released
A shiny new version of Blipstar has been released.
Store locator opening times

Blipstar has had a pre-summer makeover and the result is version 2.8. So what feature-related goodness can you expect?

Well it's always been possible to add store opening times (through the use of the flexible misc1,misc2 and misc3 fields) but we've now made it even easier - each day of the week has its own dedicated field (eg. Monday). You can now compress your spreadsheet file (i.e .zip) prior to uploading - this will speed up the import process. Some minor new display options have been added and the store locator code has been tweaked to load even faster. Plus, when using the 'show all store locations' view you can use icon clustering to speed up drawing, ideal if you have lots of markers.

A new option is now available for dynamically updating the results. When the user pans around your map the results are automatically refreshed to reflect the current map center. Simple, but effective.

For advanced users, if your locations are stored in a database you might be interested in the new FTP upload feature. This allows you to upload a CSV file to our FTP server and have it automatically imported. So, if you write some code that generates a CSV file of data when the database changes and uploads it to Blipstar, then your store locator will be always be synced with your data. Contact us for more info.

29th March 2014
Latest version now available - Shared Editing
The latest version of the Blipstar store locator software (v2.7) is now live.

The key new feature is the ability to allow third parties to edit particular locations (for example a shop could edit their own information). As always simplicity is our mantra so to use this new function all you have to do is set a password for the location then send the person a link (and let them know the password). They can now edit the locations with that given password (but no others). and it's very easy to set up. You simply define a password for a location, send whoever a unique link, and let them know the password. They can now edit that location - simple!

To set it up you can either add a column called Password to your spreadsheet and enter relevant values or add one via the online editing tool.

Other enhancements include the ability to define set text/images above and below your results, and altering the behavior of map markers when you click on them.

You can read older news in the news archive.
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