So the time has finally come.
About a year and half after our initial release we are ready to release v2.0 to the world.
A lot has happened and a lot has changed – and the plugin has grown.. a lot.
So before we start, I would like to again mention to all existing users to read the upgrade notes before you do anything.
Now, on to what’s new in 2.0, here’s the recap:
Better integration with your Shop
Naturally, one of the most common uses for S&F is in your WordPress shop – to filter and browser products – and when it comes to online shops I think of my personal favourites (and the most popular) – WooCommerce and Easy Digital Downloads (used on this site).
Now S&F has direct integration for both.
This now means you can use S&F directly on your WooCommerce shop page. So create your form, set it to WooCommerce,and add the widget to your shop page – this means no more messing around with copying & duplicating templates or worrying at all about the layout of your search results – its all controlled via WooCommerce.
What we’ve also done is added full integration for Product Variations – so now your searches will also take this into account.
Easy Digital Downloads
EDD has a very nice `downloads` shortcode which is used to display your products throughout your site. Now all you have to do is add a new S&F shortcode before your downloads shortcode and it will place nice and directly with the downloads shortcodes – again, using EDDs templates to display the results with very tight integration.
On a side note, we are also pleased to announce compatibility with the Marketify theme.
Speed, Caching & Auto Count
This really is one of the most sought after features for S&F.
In WordPress, all tags, categories and taxonomy terms have a “count” number – this is WordPress’ internal count of the number of posts in each tag/category/term.
Previously when displaying your search forms you could opt to show this number after each term, ie – `Shoes (13)`
However this was as static number pulled from WordPress’ internal count. With 2.0, these numbers are dynamic and will reflect your current search.
So say you had a taxonomy Colours and a taxonomy Clothes.
If you select the colour blue, the filters for the clothes will reduce down (and the count numbers updated) showing you which clothes and how many are blue – so your users can make smarter choices when filtering (demo coming soon).
I’ve seen a lot of other plugins try to do the same thing, and I had implemented this some time ago in this plugin, but as I’ve noticed – it just wasn’t scalable – once you start to get large databases or too many options in the search form the queries would become really expensive and slow…
Cue the Cache
To make all this possible and super fast we’ve built a unique caching system. This indexes all taxonomies and post meta data, so now you can have count numbers for your post meta fields as well as taxonomies all while keeping things running fast (even post meta queries are lightning fast).
Testing was done roughly using 4 filters (with a combined 20 options) & 2000 posts – and the results have been great. There are plans to start testing on larger DBs and see if we can improve performance even more.
How do you get what a user has searched for, or what filters they have selected? There is a new class dedicated to this, and displaying the output of this nicely.
So now you can list what a user has searched for or even add it to the titles of your pages.
Last but not least – we’ve rewritten all our documentation – its a lot more comprehensive with a lot more still to come 🙂