Nov 132015

Following my 2-year hiatus and the post last night, I was mentally prepared to go back and forth with the theme review team a few times on the approval of the latest version of Suffusion. Surprisingly, though, version 4.4.8 of Suffusion got approved within a few hours of submission!

Here is the gist of changes:

  1. Removed Features:
    1. Removed inbuilt custom post types functionality (multiple plugins exist in this area).
    2. Removed inbuilt shortcodes – The Suffusion Shortcodes plugin, with the exact same functionality has existed for a while now.
    3. Removed call to deprecated constructor WP_Widget
    4. Removed OpenID support (external plugins exist)
    5. Removed SEO plugin-like features from theme. This is what I alluded to in my previous post.
  2. Added Features:
    1. This is the only true addition: The gallery post format has been improved to consider scenarios that I hadn’t considered earlier. This is, in part, due to the enhancements that WP has made over the years to the gallery shortcode.
    2. A couple of zero-impact additions: I added a required CSS class for accessibility, and theme support for title-tag. This was necessary to get the theme to pass the checks.
  3. Changes and Fixes:
    1. Updated the theme to use latest WP features.
    2. One of the guidelines that was preventing me from changing the theme was how I used to save options (upon activation). So this time I bit the bullet and changed the functionality such that changes are saved only when you explicitly save options.
    3. I sanitized the call to echo($_GET[…]) in the backend.
    4. There was an issue and its fix outlined by Drake here. I put this in the theme.

I did notice some questions on the forums inquiring about script vulnerabilities, so I wanted to spend some time talking about it. The WordPress team takes security and vulnerabilities very seriously, and they have methods to track down themes with security holes. Now, Suffusion itself doesn’t use any third-party PHP scripts. Around 5 years back I had TimThumb, which I replaced with WP’s native resizer. Incidentally, several months after my making the switch, a severe issue was detected in TimThumb, and every theme on the theme repository that used TimThumb was suspended till the author changed it. Suffusion escaped the axe, because I had already taken care of this earlier. Then later, WP found an issue in one of its own functions. So it went after every theme that was using that function on a page facing the public. This was pretty recently, and again, Suffusion escaped the axe.

The point of saying the above is, Suffusion is in a pretty stable state, and the only cases when I have to change the theme are when a vulnerability has been discovered in it (which, touching a lot of wood, hasn’t happened), or if some new WP functionality has broken Suffusion code (which caused me to release version 4.4.7). In either of these cases, I am very quick to respond, since the theme’s massive user-base gets affected if I don’t.

WP also has a policy of removing themes older than 2 years from the search results. This doesn’t mean the theme has vulnerabilities – it only means that the theme has functionality that might not now be compatible with WordPress. You can always still get to the theme directly from WP through the theme’s URL (it is only eliminated from the search results). WP truly removes a theme only if it has security vulnerabilities, violates GPL or copyright laws, or has its developer put in a request to kill the theme.

Hope you have no issues with working the theme!

Nov 132015

It has been a long time since I committed to providing an updated version of Suffusion. But in between losing my licence for the IDE I develop on, and the plethora of things I needed to take care of in the theme, I just wasn’t able to do it enough justice.

Luckily I was able to roll up my sleeves this week and get all the pending things cleared out. I will shortly upload a new version to the WP theme repository. As it has been ages since my last theme update, I am sure the review team will come back with comments about making changes in the theme, so I am not sure how many iterations it is going to take. Regardless, it should now be a matter of days before the next version comes out.

That being said, I would like to call your attention to a comment I had made in my previous post. Quite a few options have to be removed from the theme because they are of a “plugin” sort, and one of them happens to be the set of SEO settings. However, long-time Suffusion user and forum administrator Drake has a way out for you. Do follow his instructions to ensure a seamless move from Suffusion’s SEO options to a plugin of your choice. If you were already using a plugin earlier, this should have no impact on you.

The version that I have submitted removes some features, but is not very high impact – there are no additional features. So the transition should be smooth.

May 222015

One of the bundled third-party scripts in Photonic was recently patched for a vulnerability, so I have released a security patch for Photonic. Please update your sites to the latest version of the plugin, 1.49.

Thanks to all of you who wrote in with your feedback regarding Suffusion. I got caught up in work and wasn’t able to respond or thank each of you individually, but your comments are greatly appreciated! Happy to know that a 6-years old theme still has many takers. Here is what I have planned:

  1. I will be releasing one patch for the theme in the next few days.
  2. This patch will be trimming out most of the plugin-like functionality, barring the SEO module. That is because I still haven’t finished writing a plugin to transport the settings from Suffusion out to a plugin of your choice. All other excess functionality will be removed. Hopefully the reviewers will let the theme through.
  3. I cannot split the theme into a paid or light model. Paid software is against my first rule of open source coding, which is that I code for fun (I am not against paid software – I am just against asking for money for my code). Having a light model would add to the maintenance overhead of two forks of code. So maybe the solution is to gradually streamline or sunset the theme, and come up with something new. Who knows?
  4. I will be checking the theme for compatibility with new versions of WordPress as and when they are released.

Hopefully I will have a new version of Suffusion ready in the next few days.

Feb 242015

I have updated Photonic to version 1.46. The main fix this version was to accommodate the change in the URL structure for 500px photos.

It has been about a year and a half since I last updated Suffusion or responded to forum questions. Three main factors contributed to this:

  1. Workload – Ever since I got back from Canada I switched to a slightly different line of work at my day job … and that amounted to my workload shooting up exponentially. I routinely have 80-90 hour workweeks, without time off or weekends. Let alone Suffusion, I get very little time with my family too.
  2. Stability and Maturity – I believe that from the point of view of features, Suffusion pretty much has all that I intended it to have. Moreover the last release 4.4.7 did seem to be fairly stable, thereby not compelling me to issue upgrades.
  3. Upgrade Barrier – This has been my biggest challenge. Over the past 18 months the WP theme review team has been significantly raising the restrictions for what themes may include. If you run the Theme Check plugin, you will see that Suffusion’s current version fails on multiple counts. It doesn’t mean that the theme is broken in any way – it just means that if I have to submit any change, it will not be accepted because it includes too many things that are “plugin territory”. To enable Suffusion to pass the check, I must remove probably 30% of its functionality, and fundamentally change some of the core code. That is going to result in nightmares for users.

I am posting this to solicit your opinions on what I should do. At this point I risk the theme breaking if WP introduces a new JQuery version, and there is no way I can release an update without weeks, or even months of testing. In such a case abandoning the theme and requesting the WP team to suspend it if it breaks seems to be one of the only solutions available to me, but that is going to hurt current users a lot. The other option would be to put the theme up for “adoption”, where someone enthusiastic and knowledgeable can take over the development and support activities fully. Given the amount of effort I put into the theme, talking of adoption seems like blasphemy, but of the two options, that will at least keep the users safe. Ironically I am at this unfortunate juncture because Suffusion was leagues ahead of the curve when most of these features were added, and some of the review team’s restrictions came in several years after the features were originally introduced.

In my absence on the forum Drake and Colin have provided admirable support – for that I am most thankful! I would also like to thank all users for your continued enthusiasm towards the theme in spite of not having an update from me all these days.

Aug 062013

This is a day I had been dreaming of for a while. Eventually a few minutes past 7:30AM Central Time today, Suffusion hit a lifetime download mark of 1,000,000. Yup. One million downloads.

One Million Downloads

One Million Downloads

Thanks to all of you for helping Suffusion get so far, right about the time of its fourth birthday!

I also wanted to provide a quick update – I fixed an issue in the Suffusion Shortcodes plugin that was preventing the plugin from accepting more than 5 ad-hoc widget areas. Release 1.03 of the plugin should work fine.

Aug 032013

Version 4.4.7 of Suffusion got approved a couple of hours back. As mentioned in my previous post, there are a couple of things in this version:

  1. A fix pertaining to the new version of JQuery UI included in WP 3.6 – Drake already posted this fix on the forum, and upgrading to the new version should give it to you right away.
  2. Removal of WP 3.3 support – It is my policy to support 2 prior versions. With this new WP release I have removed support for an older release.

As I predicted in my previous post, I did get the direction from the WPTRT to remove the SEO features of the theme. I will be releasing a plugin to help you transport your SEO settings from Suffusion to an SEO plugin of your choice, and will consequently delete the SEO capabilities built into Suffusion. Using the plugin you will be able to move the settings over without much impact to your site.

Suffusion is turning 4 in a few days and will hopefully hit the coveted mark of 1 million downloads at the same time. Thank you for your excellent support all these years.

Aug 032013

As users in the support forum have discovered, there is an issue with Suffusion 4.4.6 and Photonic 1.44, which use a JQuery UI function that is no longer present in the JQuery UI version that has been bundled with WP 3.6.

The Photonic patch has been released as plugin version 1.44, which is pretty much the only change in the plugin this time.

The patch for Suffusion (4.4.7) is in the approval queue. I don’t know if the new version will be approved by the WPTRT, since they believe that some of the things included in Suffusion fall under the “plugin territory” umbrella, which is now grounds for not approving the theme. If the patch is not approved, Drake’s fix should work. If the patch is approved, then in version 4.4.8 I will have to remove things such as the SEO options, and the ability to paste your Google Analytics scripts. It is not something I am looking forward to, and that is why updates in the last few months have been few.

Thank you for your continued use and patronage!

Feb 222013

Apologies for the long wait after my last post. Work has been brutal, and after 16-hour workdays I have had scarcely any time for myself or my family, let alone Photonic or Suffusion.

This version of Photonic was supposed to have a lot more stuff than it does, mainly pagination, but due to the sudden explosion of my workload, this is all I can deliver this time:

  1. I added support for the Thickbox library. Thickbox doesn’t play well with JQuery Tooltip, so if you plan on using Thickbox, bear in mind that your titles might not appear in the lightbox if you are using tooltips. Unfortunately since Thickbox is distributed with WP, I didn’t have any leeway in terms of customizing it.
  2. There was some incompatibility between Photonic and themes from Themify. Specifically it was not possible to use Photonic’s lightbox selection, and clicking on album thumbnails didn’t show the popup panel. I have added some workarounds in Photonic to address this (though ideally this should have been handled by Themify)
  3. I have added the capability to exclude password-protected galleries from displaying in SmugMug.
  4. In yet another innovative feature, I added support for an alternative shortcode. Photonic is set up to use the [gallery] shortcode by default. However your theme might be overriding this shortcode too, or maybe you have another plugin that has its plans for this shortcode. So now you have the option to specify what name you want to use for the shortcode, and that shortcode is yours. Bear in mind, that if you use this feature, using the [gallery] shortcode for Photonic will no longer work. More importantly, if you stop using Photonic, your new shortcode will show up all over the place – something that doesn’t happen if you stick with the [gallery] shortcode.

Hope you like this release. Photonic doesn’t get anywhere close to the amount of love that Suffusion does despite being a unique product, so it would be great if you left your reviews on the official WP site.

Jan 232013

I have just released version 1.42 of Photonic. The major highlights of this version are under the hood, wherein there are lots of performance improvements.

  1. There has been a massive amount of refactoring. Several lines of JavaScript code have been taken off, lots of JavaScript and PHP code has been modularized.
  2. I have added an option to use a ColorBox skin defined in the theme folder. Earlier if such a folder existed, it would be picked up by default. And quite embarrassingly this made Photonic’s ColorBox skin selection not work with Suffusion!
  3. I have updated the SimpleModal, ColorBox and PrettyPhoto libraries to the latest versions. This will fix incompatibility issues with IE for the popup windows, in addition to letting the code work for JQuery 1.9.x.
  4. I have modified some native code in Photonic to ensure that it will work with JQuery 1.9.x, which some zealous plugin authors seem to include by force. Consequently, Photonic now requires you to be on at least WP 3.3.
  5. I have removed the explicit link that said “View in Flickr” from the plugin. To compensate I have provided options for each provider to let you link to the photo page from the lightbox. This puts the onus on you to ensure that the terms of service are maintained with respect to linking.
  6. This is another big one. I have started the support for non-bundled lightbox libraries. Currently FancyBox2 is supported. The reason I have started this is to let users use non-GPL libraries (which cannot be bundled with the plugin) with Photonic. FancyBox2 happens to be released under a non-GPL-compatible license, but you can link the JS and the CSS appropriately for it.
  7. I had earlier bundled modified scripts for FancyBox and ColorBox because I couldn’t get them to work with the JQuery Tooltip plugin. I now have a fix for this scenario, so the scripts are back to their original. I couldn’t do the same for PrettyPhoto though, so I am hoping that a version of PrettyPhoto in the near future will help.

Several factors necessitated the code refactoring, primary being that for every new provider I was setting up, I was having to repeat a lot of code. With this change the barrier to introduction of new providers should reduce (though I cannot think of any other provider to include other than Facebook). This also helped me cut out hundreds of lines of JS, easing the load on the browser.

Do let me know how you like this release.

Jan 212013

Version 4.4.6 of Suffusion was released a little while back. This is a minor version, but with some far-reaching changes:

  1. I have changed the JQuery functions in the theme to use on instead of live. The live function was deprecated in JQuery 1.7.0 and is removed in 1.9.0. Now, WP itself distributes JQuery 1.8.3, which is why there was no issue with the theme. However, some plugins get fancy and pull the latest version of JQuery from Google CDN and that used to break Suffusion. This release should work fine with JQuery 1.9.0
  2. The prior versions of Suffusion used to come with FancyBox and ColorBox scripts that had been slightly modified to handle JQuery Tooltip. I have found a way around this, now the scripts are back to the original.
  3. Suffusion was using the image_resize function so far for image resizing. This function got deprecated in WP 3.5, so I have added the code to use the new replacement.
  4. I added a filter, suffusion_cat_tag_query_args to featured posts for letting users add their own parameters to the query.

Hope you like this version.