Image Lazy-Loading Compatibility

Many Wordpress Caches & Optimizers (such as Jetpack, Autoptimize, etc.) have a "Lazy-load Images" feature which "takes over" image loading for Showcase IDX images, and causes our app to appear broken in some cases (images wouldn't load properly). One example is the gallery view image carousel on the search results page.

Fortunately, there is now a semi-standardized way to tell these lazy-loaders to stay away from our images!

Today, we've done just that with the addition of the skip-lazy class and data-skip-lazy attribute.

Now you can have your cache and images, too!

Wordpress Caching Issues with Showcase IDX Plugin are fixed

Historically, each time we released an update to the Showcase IDX Search (which is used by the Showcase IDX Wordpress Plugin), the search functionality would break on Wordpress sites with caching enabled until you manually cleared your cache. This was frustrating and annoying for our customers.

We are extremely pleased to announce that we've developed a solution to this issue! We launched the fix for the caching issue a few hours after the updates that we shipped last week, and can report that we had no reports of any issues, meaning that the fixes are working great!

There should no longer be a need for you to clear your Wordpress caches when we make updates. One less thing to worry about!

Improvements to Listing Detail Page

Improvements to Listing Detail Page's Image Carousel

  • We are using a new engine to display carousel images. This new engine replaces the two previous browser-specific approaches. The behavior across browsers should be uniform now.
  • The new layout engine has resolved several bugs:
    • Squished images
    • Zoomed/cropped images
    • Weird whitespace above/below/to the side of the carousel.
  • Images are now full-resolution and look significantly better on Retina displays, and are also larger in full-screen mode.
  • Keyboard shortcuts are now supported: use the Left & Right arrow keys to navigate through the images on the Listing Detail Page and the Full-Screen mode. You can also now you ESC to exit Full-Screen mode.
  • On touch devices, you can now swipe left & right on the Listing Detail Page carousel to navigate through the images.
  • Exiting Full-Screen mode no longer scrolls to the top (the prior scroll position is maintained).
  • Image Pre-loader has been improved so that users will now almost never see a loading indicator or need to wait for an image to load under normal usage.
    • The image pre-loader has been improved so that images are more likely to have been pre-loaded by the time you navigate to them.
    • A loading indicator now displays only if it takes more than 500ms for the image to load.

Miscellaneous Fixes

  • Made the CSS around polygon drawing more robust. Previously some themes that styled svg’s could make it so that the polygon drawing was invisible.
  • The “Advanced Search > Price Changes > Any” now shows all listings that are not the original list price. Previously this option would simply remove the Price Change filter (and thus show all listings).

Compliance and Clarification

As of today, we have pushed a small but impactful update to our listing page plugin-wide.

Not all of the data we get about a listing comes from the MLS. We include some information from WalkScore and Attom Data Solutions (formerly known as Onboard Informatics), and some MLS boards has specific compliance rules that data sources be clearly defined by their source if it is not provided by them. Today's update includes updated Copyright information and includes a small but legible Source text under each section.

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For all Showcase IDX users, we display Neighborhood and Commute that comes from WalkScore.

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For Premium users only, we display Market Snapshot and Insights provided by Attom Data Solutions.

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Upgrade to Listing Detail Page

newandoldlistingpage-1024x540.png This new version has an updated design and user experience, and is the first iteration of an ongoing project to refine and improve our listing page experience, for consumers and our customers. There are some key improvements in this release:

Overall Look & Feel

We simplified the design and now have more that consumers want and expect to see. We’ve reduced the number of items, especially unfamiliar at first sight items above the fold of the page.

SEO

We’ve added a number of SEO upgrades to the listing page. In addition to performance improvements, we’ve added the additional photos which all have ALT tags, we’ve added schema.org structured data tags around key pieces of information. This markup code helps Google determine which information is the most relevant and important on your page and can potentially be used in rich snippets in search results, if the website as a whole has enough authority (and a lot of other factors).

Photos

We’ve made the main photo much larger and simplified the navigation through the gallery. The gallery also loads much faster. In addition to the main photo we now preview the listing photos in our QuickView column on the left side. The user can click through these photos very quick and see multiples at a time. This is a concept we’re going to keep on developing, there’s a few other ways we can see photo previews being valuable to the consumer to quickly decide if a listing is relevant to their preferences/needs.

Call To Actions

A central part of this new release was to rethink our Call-To-Actions which are all the buttons and links a consumer can push to either ask for help, and/or create a lead. We wanted to add more of them but do it in a way that made sense and not be overwhelming to the user. We are now providing more and clearer opportunities for users to reach out and create leads than we ever have and not just at the top of the page. The Calls-To-Actions are repeated a few times throughout the page as you with one right at the bottom of the listing information. We’re confident that this simple new design and usability will increase lead conversion.

Friends and Family

We’ve also simplified our “Social Search” section and renamed it Friends and Family. The name Social Search didn’t really give people a good idea of what it does. We’ve also taken out the share to social networks button from that section too and put it with our main call-to-actions, as having it there added confusion. So it’s now simplified and indicative of the value it can provide. We’re looking to add more to the Friends and Family functionality in upcoming releases to make it even more valuable.

Bathrooms

One of the things we’ve heard a lot about is the consistency of bathroom data. Different MLSs have the bathroom data in different formats, and have different classifications for the same type of bathroom. So we have now carried over the Total Bathrooms number for each listing into the listing summary area at the top of the page, and then in the Listing Snapshot we break that down into the number of full baths and partial baths. We now have the ability to break that down even further into ½ Baths and ¾ Baths, and will be able to update the data mappings for each MLS where this could improve clarity. That data work is outside of the scope of this project. Additional CSS Classes: We have added another layer of CSS specificity to the new page which should allow more advanced users to customize more specific classes and page elements.

Significant Performance Update

Recently, we've been growing like crazy and that's been putting some extra stress on our infrastructure and creating more transient errors than we'd like. Most of these errors, don't actually have any impact on customers as the process is just retried.

However, a few of these have created some very brief outages in the past couple of weeks that have effected our customers' websites for very short periods, like 10 seconds. We hate this.

After a lot of research and analysis we found a key bottleneck in how we were sending data between our cloud server applications. We realized that we needed to ease the heavy load on this crucial API data pathway. To do this we've added some additional caching to the requests going through this bottleneck.

The result of this solution, is a dramatic reduction in error rates and resource usage, which has in turn created and dramatic increase in performance, that is seen most in the load times for our IDX on our customer websites. The improvement in page load speed we've seen is profound.

WordPress Plugin Update: 3.0.45

We pushed out a new Showcase IDX WordPress plugin update (3.0.45) today that adds more detail to the screen that you see when Showcase IDX license isn't active on your site.

The previous message was obviously written by a developer. The message was functional but also sounded kind of scary. Not what we are going for, so it's been swapped out for something more instructive and hopefully useful!

Planned Downtime: Upgrading Google Cloud Elastic Search Cluster

Showcase IDX will be upgrading our Elastic Search Cluster tonight (The night of 5/1-5/2), starting at 3am EST.

We'll probably be down for about 90 minutes. This means the search will not work on your website during this time.

We're starting so late to make sure there's minimal impact on your websites and users.

This upgrade will give five us substantially more capacity on our main search cluster in Google Cloud. Without the tech jargon, we're beefing up the servers that handle the searches so we can support more concurrent searches and ensure they are as quick as quick can be.

We're also sharing this notification in the admin intercom chat and in the changelog.

Updated: Showcase IDX v2.0 CRM Integration With LionDesk

Launching today, the Showcase IDX CRM integration with LionDesk will help our LionDesk customers get more out of Showcase IDX.

**This will require Showcase IDX customers with an existing LionDesk Premium Integration to add the new LionDesk v2 Premium Integration and remove the previous version. It is not an automated upgrade! It should take less than 2 minutes. Installation video below.

You can manage this upgrade here.**

Showcase IDX LionDesk integration

New OAuth 2.0 Account Authentication

With its new API, LionDesk has implemented the new open standard for secure authentication and authorizing connections between applications. As opposed to other forms of authentication, OAuth 2.0 uses access tokens over secure HTTPS connections, instead of credentials like API Keys.

You’re probably familiar with the process, as it’s what Facebook and Google use when you want to sign into a website or application with your Facebook or Google login.

What this means for Showcase IDX and LionDesk users is a more robust, secure connection between our two applications. This is a good thing.

When setting up the new premium integration, all you’ll do is click the connect button and a LionDesk window will appear where you can login (if you’re not already logged in LionDesk) and then simply click the button to approve the connection to Showcase IDX.

LionDesk Updates Within A Second

This isn’t new, but since we’ve been testing the integration we’ve seen this first hand, we’re just excited about how quick it works. All the activity on your website that’s tied to a contact is updated within a second in LionDesk from the action being performed on your website. Lightning fast!

New Lead Activity Events

We have added more events and features to the integration to give you more insight within LionDesk to the contact’s activity on your Showcase IDX-powered website.

Property Viewed

Your client views a property on your site. We are now adding additional listing information to each property viewed, including the main photo, bedrooms, bathrooms, days online, year built, listing agent name, company, phone number and email; and more.

This will let you see more details on their home search and engagement on your site from within the LionDesk dashboard.

Favorite Property Removed – NEW!

Know when a contact removes a property from their list of favorites on your site.

Saved Search Added

As your client’s home searches progress, their interests and requirements do as well. Now, you can know when they create a new search query by seeing the information added to the contact within LionDesk.

Favorite Property Added

Know when a new property catches your client’s eye. We’ll alert you when a property is added to contact’s favorites

Saved Search Removed – NEW!

Know when a client removes a saved search query.

User Login – NEW!

Your clients should be using the IDX and home search tools on your site. Showcase IDX has always tracked when they visit your site from new listings or to refine a search. Now, you’ll be able to see that a contact logged in to the IDX on your website from within LionDesk.

Showing Request – NEW!

In addition to your alerts from Showcase IDX about a request for a showing on a property, you’ll now see this showing request within LionDesk too.

More Listing Information In LionDesk Activity Stream

Your LionDesk Activity Timeline has never had so much useful information on the home search and listing information for your clients!

Code Push Today: WordPress and/or Server Cache May Need Clearing

We're doing a code push this morning that may require you to refresh your WordPress or server cache. If your website looks fine, then don't worry about it, your caches reset like they should. If the IDX looks off, you'll need to refresh your cache.

This code push is part of a larger project that we're working on and we need it in production to continue testing and development.