We recently relaunched a site for local Park City real estate agent Nancy Tallman, built around Placester, which provides solutions for IDX/MLS integration. While they mainly focus on a hosted IDX system, they do offer a plugin and IDX functionality for self hosted clients. That’s the part we’ll be focusing on.
Here’s a few thoughts on using and developing with Placester:
1. Overall impressions
We’re really happy in the end how the site has turned out, in regards to integrating live MLS data on the site. The search works well, the data is up to date, and in the end we were actually able to get live Park City MLS data on the site in a usable fashion. Placester far and away beats the previous MLS integration plugin we’d been using and thankfully mostly sticks to using core WordPress functionality.
2. What I loved
The truly best part about Placester is that it works. The data is there and can be searched. I can’t stress how great this is – I don’t know that there is another WordPress based MLS integration tool this good. Beyond that, once you get used to how it works, Placester is fairly easy to use and can be customized to great extent (See below for the ‘once you get used to it’ caveat).
3. What could use improvement
Building a customized MLS integrated system is no small task. I get that and expected the associated learning curve. Placester has made an attempt at providing documentation, but it proved lacking. I spent too much time heading down wrong paths based on the guides, and way too much guessing. I suspect they focused on developers at one point, but have now shifted their focus to their hosted solutions. Phone support is non existent. Email support is provided through their Zendesk system. I wish they would provide a link to the online version in the emails, but I was eventually able to track down my account here: https://placester.zendesk.com. Don’t expect any of it to be quick. They have a few non-technical support people who you’ll have to jump through. Ask for Joe.
Signing up for the non-hosted version was confusing. There appears to be two separate places to do so – one for the hosted, one for… uh, something else? I ended up signing up at both which sent me on a wild Zendesk caper to get it sorted. But it did get sorted. Signing up for IDX was similarly confusing, but that too got sorted in the end.
I’ll definitely develop with Placester again if the opportunity arises. Getting past the learning curve was the hard part, and the technology seems great so far. I’m hoping they continue to develop the plugin along side their hosted solution. I’m not sure how optimistic I am about that however. Placester, please don’t leave the self hosted folks behind.
If any Park City agents are in the market, we can create a pretty sweet custom site for you. MLS included :)