May 282018

I recently received a question about GDPR compliance for Suffusion on the WordPress forum, posted on the support forum for Photonic – not the right place to post. But there is no support forum page for Suffusion on the WordPress support forums, plus I don’t monitor the forums here since I gave up working on Suffusion a few years back, so I am posting this here as a public service announcement.

Suffusion is fully GDPR compliant. To wit:

  1. Any information you enter and save in the back-end options stays there and is not sent outside your WordPress environment. Suffusion doesn’t send any data outside your website.
  2. There is no tracking of any sort built into Suffusion. Any references to “Analytics” in Suffusion (Appearance → Suffusion Options → Back-end → Analytics) refers to your ability to include tracking scripts into the footer of your website. Suffusion itself provides no analytics capabilities – that is strictly plugin territory.
  3. Suffusion doesn’t store any cookies of any sort.

If you encounter questions about GDPR compliance, please feel free to point the users to this page.

May 252018

In the past few weeks there has been a fair bit of buzz around General Data Protection Regulation a.k.a. GDPR, an EU law on data protection and privacy. In my day job as a consultant I am quite familiar with GDPR, but what took me by surprise was a question on the support forum asking me if Photonic was GDPR compliant.

To answer that and related questions I decided to post this on my blog. I will, subsequently, include the relevant content from this in the next release of Photonic. So, let’s get this out of the way:

  1. Photonic is GDPR compliant.
  2. When you (the WordPress user) install and activate Photonic on your site no information is sent back to me (the developer) or to any website that I own. Additionally when you save your API keys and authentication tokens within Photonic none of that information is sent to me either. It all stays within your WordPress settings, inaccessible to anyone apart from a user with administrative privileges on your website.
  3. What about when visitors (the end users) visit your website? Let’s break this down:
    1. When you set up Photonic without back-end (server side) or front-end (client side) authentication, Photonic stores no information of the end users anywhere. In other words nothing is sent to you, the WordPress user or me, the developer. Also, no cookies are stored in the end users’ browsers.
    2. When you set up Photonic with back-end authentication, you save your access tokens within WordPress’ settings environment. This is used for technical purposes to retrieve your photos and display them on your website. Again, this is within your settings environment and none of the information is collected or sent to me.
    3. When you set up Photonic with front-end authentication, your end-users will have to log into Flickr / Google (Picasa) / SmugMug / 500px to see your private photos. In such a scenario a cookie is stored with the end users’ authentication in their browsers. This is required from a user-experience point of view so that the users don’t have to login each time they visit a new page on your website. Your end-users’ information and data is not sent to you and is not collected by Photonic for storing within your environment or for being sent elsewhere.

From the time I released version 1.65, three things have happened in the photography world which will impact Photonic in the long and short term:

  1. Facebook started clamping down on third party apps after Cambridge Analytica’s shenanigans. They had done this in the past with Instagram, and that caused a massive disruption for sites using the Instagram API. In fact, to date I haven’t been able to convince them to grant the requisite permissions to Photonic to display tags etc. Burnt by my experience with Instagram I had been very wary about extending Photonic to Facebook. In hindsight that was a good decision since Facebook has made it harder to get approvals for apps to pull photos etc. I would have ended up throwing away a lot of development effort if I had built a Facebook module.
  2. SmugMug has acquired Flickr. This took me by surprise. As of now the platforms and APIs are independent and they haven’t announced any plans to merge them in the short term. However, if and when the merge, I will have to redo the code in accordance with the redesigned API. That is a bridge too far for now and I will cross it when I get to it.
  3. announced that they are shutting down their API from 15th June 2018. And when this happens, there is nothing I can do to fetch photos from a platform. I have written to them to see if there will be any way to pull photos, but for now we must assume that the module of Photonic will stop working from 15th June due to this change.

In the meanwhile I am working on adding video support to Photonic. Stay tuned.

Apr 212018

After a hiatus of almost 14 months I have been able to release a new update for Photonic. While this version comes after a long time, I have been extremely active on the support forum, often responding to issues in minutes. It is just that this release featured one big ticket item, which took me time to develop and test. Incidentally the day I released the last version was when I got on a different project on my day job, and that effectively killed all my free time.

Anyway, without further delay, these are the key features of version 1.65:

  1. Back-End / Server-Side Authentication
    I introduced back-end authentication with Instagram, then extended it to Google back in 2016. But these were necessitated by the API changes breaking Photonic. This time I have gone ahead and completed the journey for Flickr, SmugMug and 500px. This addresses one of the most requested features on the support forum: an ability to display private photos without site visitors requiring to log in. As a side-effect of this I had to split out the former Helpers page into two: a new Authentication page that handles authentication, and a Helpers page that provides tools to determine user ids, album ids etc.

    Admin Menu

  2. Fix for Bootstrap Bug
    The most frequently raised issue since February last year has been a conflict between themes / plugins using Bootstrap and Photonic. Incidentally the culprits here are the Bootstrap users, who include a tooltip script with their themes / plugins that conflicts with the JQuery Tooltip script bundled with native WP. Photonic uses JQuery Tooltip, so it ran into issues with Bootstrap users. I have coded a workaround that lets people use both now.
  3. Featherlight
    Keeping with the trend of adding lightbox scripts, this release adds support for Featherlight.
  4. Other Additions
    1. I have improved the error message reporting and made it hopefully more user-friendly.
    2. I have added support for Pinterest sharing of photos via the lightboxes.
    3. So far users were able to pass a filter attribute to the shortcode, which would fetch a named list of albums / galleries / photosets. In this release I have added an additional attribute filter_type that takes the values exclude and include to indicate if a list of albums in the filter parameter should be excluded or included.
    4. Flickr has an oddity – in some cases the URL structure of its photos doesn’t match documentation. I have added a workaround so that now such images from Flickr too will be displayed.
    5. I have added a new title style that is similar to the “Slide up on hover”, except that this title doesn’t disappear and stays covering the lower portion of photos.
  5. Other Bug Fixes
    1. In the previous release I had accidentally left in some code that gave you the option to show a “Buy” link for SmugMug photos, but did nothing upon selection. That should be fixed now.
    2. The SmugMug folder view was dropping albums that didn’t have a “Highlight Image”. This has been corrected, and such albums will now show a placeholder image.
    3. SmugMug folders were unable to show more than 10 albums under them. This has been addressed to display up to 200 albums.
    4. While displaying photos, if a user name started with a number that was breaking the code. This should be working fine now.
    5. While displaying photos from a category, if the category name had spaces the plugin was not pulling the photos correctly. This has been fixed.
  6. Other Changes
    1. I have streamlined the Picasa code to use native WP methods for HTTP request
    2. The “Getting Started” and “Helpers” pages will now be visible to any user who can edit posts. Previously this was only visible to admins.
    3. I have improved compatibility with PHP 7.

Hope you enjoy this release!

Feb 272017

I have just released Photonic Version 1.64, with quite a few big features:

  1. Masonry Layout
    Masonry layouts had never been a part of Photonic because, to be honest, I never got results that I desired with the jQuery Masonry script. So after 6 years of the plugin’s existence when I decided to integrate Masonry, things went swimmingly at first … until I tried testing the “Show More” functionality of Photonic. Try as I might I wasn’t able to make Masonry play nicely with dynamically added content. Eventually I gave up and went a different route – CSS3 columns. This worked out a lot better, and all I needed to do was provide a jQuery Masonry escape path for IE9 and its older brethren. You can now trigger the Masonry layout by setting layout='masonry' in the shortcode. See examples in the Layouts page.
  2. Mosaic Layout
    I wasn’t content with just providing the Masonry layout this time, so I provided another – a Mosaic layout. I must confess that ever since I saw JetPack’s tiled galleries, I have wanted to provide this feature. In fact, almost a year back I tried to implement this, then gave it up and built out the Random Justified Grid instead. The challenge had always been that Jetpack only deals with images on the local server, so it can compute heights and construct the layout in the back-end PHP, while Photonic predominantly deals with images outside the local server, making it impossible to do computations in the back-end. The solution had to be based in JavaScript.

    I looked at several third-party scripts to help build this functionality (Packery, CSTiles, and more), but nothing seemed to fill out gaps properly with images of varying sizes. Eventually I bit the bullet and built out the script myself. It wasn’t very difficult once I had the algorithm and a plan to do the layouts sorted out, and I was eventually done. Take a look at the finished product. You can activate the mosaic layout by setting layout='mosaic' in the shortcode.

  3. Enhancements to Native WP Galleries
    There were three things missing from native WP galleries that existed for all other gallery providers – deep-linking / social sharing, “Show More” capabilities, and an ability to enable / disable lightbox linking. All of these have been addressed in this release.
  4. Thumbnail Effects
    I have added options for some thumbnail effects. So far Photonic used to display a somewhat opaque layer on thumbnails in the square and circle layouts, while others would show with no such effect. In this release I have added an option to zoom upon hover, and I have provided separate options for the different layouts. You can control the effects from Photonic → Settings → Generic Options → Layouts.
  5. SmugMug Folders
    I have added support to display SmugMug folders. See the usage here. As a related change, the SmugMug helper (Photonic → Helpers) shows folder information as well.
  6. Larger Images in Instagram
    So far only the documented Instagram sizes were supported by Photonic – 150px × 150px, 320px × 320px and 640px × 640px. In this release I have added support for the undocumented sizes – 1080px × 1080px, 1080px × 1350px and 1080px × 566px.
  7. Other Additions
    1. Added an option to auto-start slideshows in the slideshow layout. See Photonic → Generic Options → Slideshow Settings → Prevent Slideshow Autostart.
    2. I added a popup attribute to the shortcode, which overrides the “Bypass Popup” capability (Photonic → Generic Options → Overlaid Popup Panel → Enable Interim Popup for Album Thumbnails). It takes the values hide and show.
    3. I added the slideshow options to the shortcode editor for all galleries. Previously this was only present for native WP galleries.
  8. Bug Fixes
    There are a few minor bug-fixes in this release:

    1. I fixed a corner-case issue with the random layout – if the post content width was being rounded up (e.g. 549.8px became 550px), some widths were not being computed correctly, causing the layout to break.
    2. There was a mismatched HTML tag appearing for single-photo displays, which has been addressed.
    3. I corrected a minor styling issue for the preview button in the WP editor that occurred when the back-end shortcode editor was active.
    4. There was an issue with deep-linking working with Image Lightbox, wherein if the same image was repeated in different galleries, the deep-link would show up from the first instance.
Feb 132017

Photonic Version 1.63 has been released with two major updates requiring contrasting levels of development skill:

  1. TinyMCE Integration
    One of the most frequently raised support topics for Photonic was that upon inserting a gallery the user was presented with “No Items Found”. In each of those instances, upon performing troubleshooting what I found is that the user was reporting what he / she was seeing in the back-end Visual Editor, not what was on the front-end. In fact, in almost all of these cases, the front-end would show the gallery perfectly. The issue was not that the shortcode wasn’t working, rather the shortcode wasn’t integrated with the TinyMCE script of WP, and this had been a documented shortcoming of the plugin (in the FAQ section) since one of the early releases. This shortcoming caused a lazy troll not bothered to read documentation to provide Photonic a single-star rating on WP.

    In any case, starting with Version 1.63 Photonic offers integration with TinyMCE. What this means is that if you insert a gallery with your Visual Editor, you will no longer be presented with this:

    Visual Editor showing nothing in the Gallery

    Instead you will see something that makes a little more sense:

    A placeholder for a Flickr Gallery. The placeholder shows the logo of the provider, so you will see the Picasa logo for Google Photos, the SmugMug logo for SmugMug galleries etc.

    Clicking on the placeholder will let you edit the properties of the gallery.

    Change the attributes of the gallery

    There was a reason this hadn’t been developed until this point – it was insanely difficult! In fact among all the integration I have had to do for Photonic until this point, this has been the hardest. As of now, though the feature has been implemented, there is a likelihood of conflicts with other plugins. So if you do come across conflicts, please bring them to my attention. Please note that in case of conflicts you can disable the visual editing capability (Photonic → Settings → Generic Options → Generic Settings → Disable shortcode editing in Visual Editor), which will still let you edit the shortcodes by hand in the “Text” editor.

  2. StripJS Lightbox Support
    If the integration with TinyMCE was the hardest thing I have had to do, the integration with StripJS was one of the easiest. It literally took me less than an hour to get this integration in place. Strip describes itself as “an unobtrusive lightbox”, meaning it doesn’t occupy the entire screen, rather it takes up the space to the side of the screen.

    Strip is distributed under the Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 3.0 License (CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0), which is incompatible with GPL, so I cannot bundle it with Photonic. However, there is nothing stopping you from using the script. See here for instructions. Do bear in mind that you are responsible for following the licensing restrictions of Strip.

  3. Lightgallery Fixes
    A couple of fixes have been put in place for the Lightgallery script – when the “download” capability was being used with Firefox, it didn’t work for external providers. This has been rectified for Flickr, SmugMug and Picasa. Another issue was that when you opted to not display captions if they were blank, Lightgallery would still show them in the lightbox. This too has been addressed.

Good luck with this release!

Feb 122017

I have stopped working on Suffusion (and supporting it in any form) after it was pulled from the WordPress repository. However, there were several requests for the code to be made available for download. I have finally put up a version at GitHub. There are two folders available there:

  • code – Contains the raw code used for the theme. I have ensured that all of it is current as per version 4.4.9, and that a couple of corrections required have been included.
  • dist – Contains the zip files for the code. You can use the 4.4.9 version (the last available version from WP), or the 4.5.0 version. The 4.5.0 version contains the corrections cited above.

Please note that I am not resuming development for the theme – keeping up with an obstructionist Theme Review Team is too cumbersome (apparently now Custom CSS is not allowed in themes!!). There will potentially be a point of time in the future when the currently available versions will cease to be compatible with WordPress. As of now the theme runs fine with WP 4.7.2.

Jan 312017

Version 1.62 of Photonic is now out. The following are included in this release:

  1. Slideshow Layout
    Up until now the native WP galleries could be displayed in a slideshow mode, by setting style='no-strip', style='strip-below' or style='strip-above'. Now you can do this for any type of gallery. Since the other galleries don’t have a style attribute, you can pass this value to the layout attribute. In addition, there is a new value it takes, strip-right, that shows a thumbnail strip to the right of the slideshow.
  2. Replacement of jQuery Cycle
    The jQuery Cycle library has been a staple of my WP projects since 2009. But while being extremely powerful, it was hard to make it work in a responsive fashion, and touch gestures were not integrated into it. The author of the plugin had released a new version, Cycle2, but Cycle2 cannot coexist with Cycle (which is used by Suffusion). Since WP yanked Suffusion from the repository, I have no means to modify it – as a matter of fact, replacing Cycle was what I was working on when Suffusion got pulled. So, rather than risk conflicts for users of Suffusion using Photonic, I figured out an alternative – a new slideshow library! I settled on Lightslider. This is a lot smaller than Cycle, it is responsive and touch-friendly out of the box, and has just 2 transition effects (fade and slide) instead of the buffet that came with Cycle.
  3. Trimmed Down Back-End
    Since the early days of Suffusion I have had a mechanism to display the back-end options, which I kept in place for Photonic as well. I finally cut the cord on that and re-styled the back-end to use native WP features. This removed the dependence on jQuery UI, which was often causing conflicts with rogue plugins. The new back-end has a different look, and reduced size and load-time.
  4. Lightgallery Lightbox
    I have added support for the Lightgallery lightbox script. This is a nice-looking but heavy script by the same author who wrote Lightslider. Feel free to give this a spin.
  5. New “Getting Started” page
    In your back-end, under Photonic you now have a linke, “Getting Started”. This is a compendium of links for high-level capabilities of the plugin.
  6. New Shortcode Attributes
    In line with the slideshow layout a bunch of new parameters have been added to the shortcode:

    1. controls – Shows “Previous” and “Next” buttons. Accepted values: show and hide
    2. caption – Overrides the caption content back-end setting for a gallery. E.g. title will always attempt show the title, even if blank, and title-desc will show a title if one exists, and a caption otherwise. Accepted values are none, title, desc, title-desc, desc-title.
    3. thumb_size and main_size – controls the sizes to be used for a gallery, overriding the thumbnail and main image sizes set in the back-end.

Have fun with this release!

Jan 172017

Version 1.60 of Photonic is now out. This version has the following updates:

  1. “Count” support in SmugMug
    Photonic interfaces for all providers have had a capability to restrict the number of photos pulled. Flickr has per_page, Google Photos / Picasa max_results, Zenfolio limit, 500px rpp (results per page), and Instagram count. The big exception to this rule was SmugMug, because SmugMug API v1.3 didn’t support this capability. However, API v2 supports it, and oversight on my part while implementing it for Photonic v1.57 caused me to skip it. This has been rectified, and now you can get a specified number of photos for SmugMug.
  2. “Load More”
    The above capability has made it easy for me to provide a “Load More” feature. Let’s say your album has 355 photos, and you want to display 100 photos in the beginning so as to not overwhelm your site’s visitors. Photonic so far lacked a capability to display the remaining photos on the same page. You can now pass an additional more parameter to the shortcode, which Photonic then knows to interpret as being asked to show a button. Whatever value you pass to the parameter will become the text of the button. So, more='Load More' will show a button with text “Load More”, while more='More …' will show a button with text “More …”.

    This feature uses “lazy loading”, so unless you click on the button the new batch of 100 photos (or whatever your count parameter specified) will not be fetched from the server, and the old set of existing photos will not be re-fetched.

  3. Lightcase Lightbox Support
    I have added support for the Lightcase lightbox script. This script is a bit heavy (25KB minified) compared to the last 2 scripts I added support for (Swipebox and Image Lightbox) and it requires third-party touch plugins, but it looks pretty nice. I did some optimization on the CSS (16KB), which originally used a custom font that added quite a few KB and files to the volume, and replaced it with CSS animations for the icons.
  4. I have fixed a bug with the “Image Lightbox” script wherein if interim popups were enabled, clicking on an image in the interim popup wouldn’t show the lightbox.

Enjoy the update!

Jan 122017

I have just released version 1.59 of Photonic. This is a very big release, with a lot of far-reaching changes:

  1. Rewritten Instagram Integration:
    Some time in June 2016 Instagram made several changes to its API. Every service provider makes changes to APIs (SmugMug has done it, Twitter has done it, and, notoriously, Google has done it with Picasa). Among things removed from Instagram’s API were popular photos and a few other things… and the changes broke Photonic. What messed things up rather badly, though, was that every Client ID (API key) was by default pushed into a highly crippled “Sandbox mode”, and every level of privilege that you seek for your Client ID to move it from its Sandbox to Production requires a labyrinthine round of approval. To the best of my knowledge Instagram is the only provider with an API that does this.

    Now, if every user of Photonic were to get stuck in this quagmire of requesting approvals for Instagram, they would require at least one week in addition to creating a screencast (!!) for the approval. The alternative would be to get an API key in Sandbox mode, which never returns more than 20 photos.

    So I put in place a different method of displaying Instagram content. Rather than than having users get their Client IDs (in Sandbox) from Instagram, they can use mine to obtain an “Access Token”. I have outlined the procedure on the Instagram page.

    I have, however, hit a hitch. Over the past 10 days I have been trying to get Instagram to approve Photonic for displaying all public content (including hashtags and locations), however they have refused. So far Photonic has only obtained “Basic” permissions, which will allow a user to display his or her own photos. But I still haven’t been successful in getting the “Public Content” permissions, which lets brands / advertisers / marketers / publishers display content by hashtags and locations. I am continuing my fight, but I am not sure if I will succeed anytime soon.

  2. Rewritten Picasa Integration:
    My frustration with the Google’s rewrite of the Picasa API is well known. However, my rewrite of the Instagram integration switched on the proverbial light-bulb with respect to Picasa. Enter “Back-End Authentication”, or “Server-Side Authentication”. Using this approach you will be able to show your users photos that you are allowed to see, not what they are allowed to see. This has several advantages over the traditional “Front-End” or “Client-Side” authentication. I have explained this in-depth on the Picasa documentation page. This completely eliminates the restrictions imposed by the Picasa API around private and protected albums.

    The Picasa rewrite has introduced a couple of new parameters for the Picasa shortcode, namely access and protection. Again, these are explained in the documentation page.

  3. Lazy Loading Flickr Collections
    Flickr’s Collections API is very inefficient, causing long load times if you have many albums in your collections. To counter this I introduced a concept called “lazy loading” of the collections. The details are explained in the Collections documentation.
  4. New Lightbox – Image Lightbox
    I have been considering the addition of several new lightbox scripts over the past couple of months. I finally got around to adding support for an ultra-lightweight one – Image Lightbox. The minified script is only 6KB, and it definitely looks pretty nice.
  5. Other Changes
    1. I fixed a “Headers already sent” error for password-protected Zenfolio albums.
    2. Swipebox in FireFox was throwing an “Event not defined” error. That has been rectified.
    3. I added a new “headers” parameter for Flickr, SmugMug and Zenfolio, where the album / set / gallery / collection header display may be controlled via the shortcode. It can take a comma-separated list consisting of thumbnail, title and counter, to show those specific elements.

Hope you enjoy the update!