Feb 172016

I have released version 1.56 of Photonic. This version has the following changes:

  1. You can now get a “slide-up” style title for all your thumbnails, in addition to the JQuery Tooltip and other options that you have.
  2. I removed some syntax that was causing the plugin to break installations with PHP versions 5.3 or below. If problems persist, please let me know and I will take a look.
  3. I have made a small change to ensure that Picasa photos are pulled from an https link instead of http. This will ensure that the plugin works for Picasa even when the WP installation has SSL.

I learnt today that Google is shutting down Picasa (both, Web and Desktop) in favour of Google Photos. This isn’t good news. They haven’t provided any information regarding API changes, and given the challenges we have had with authkey settings and the differences between album protection of PicasaWeb and Google Photos, I can only surmise the level of difficulty I am going to face in making things work once Picasa is gone for good. Google has currently provided a date of 1st May 2016. Let’s hope they at least do a good job of the API updates before then. In the meanwhile, do let me know if your Picasa albums suddenly stop working.

Feb 052016

Version 1.55 of Photonic is now live. The following are the changes:

  1. Earlier, password-protected albums on Smugmug would display only for authenticated users. Now, if you simply pass the password attribute, your album will display.
  2. The Smugmug module now supports the site_password attribute as well.
  3. Translations are now officially supported via the WordPress site for the plugin.
  4. There were often complaints about the popup dialog that used to show up for images was not working correctly. Moreover it was fixed width, and did not do well with mobile devices. So I replaced it with a largely self-authored modal script (based on the animatedModal.js script), which changes this to more of an overlaid panel rather than a popup. Since it took less than a day of coding I am surprised I didn’t do it earlier. The following are the highlights of the current popup:
    • The width is no longer given in pixels, but it takes a percentage. By default the popup will be at 80% of the window width.
    • Earlier the popup used to display multiple “screens”. That has been done away with, entirely. All images show up in the same screen now, and you have the ability to scroll down to view them.
  5. By using my own modal script I was able to significantly optimize the overall JS (about a 30% reduction in its size).

Let me know if you encounter any issues.

Jan 252016

I have just released version 1.54 of Photonic. This is a minor version with the following changes:

  1. I changed the added gesture script for PrettyPhoto, Colorbox and Fancybox from TouchSwipe to TouchWipe. This started out as a leap of faith, given that TouchWipe doesn’t work on its homepage itself, but in the end it was easier than I had expected. Switching to TouchWipe saves over 10KB of JavaScript, and I was able to bundle this within Photonic’s main script itself, thereby removing the option for enabling touch support. As of now, each of the abovementioned lightboxes is touch-enabled.
  2. While adding the support for authkey for Picasa albums I had forgotten to add this in the shortcode generator. This has been remedied.
  3. I added the “Text Domain” tag to the theme’s readme file. This makes it possible for contributors to do translations directly on wordpress.org.

I also submitted a small updated to Suffusion, mainly to correct some issues on responsive layouts. That hasn’t been approved yet, but should be, hopefully soon.

Jan 182016

I just released version 1.53 of Photonic. This is a pretty small release with a couple of big new additions:

  1. You now have the option to use Photonic’s lightbox for non-Photonic images. Bye bye, standalone lightbox plugins!
  2. One oft-requested feature had been the support for displaying Picasa albums with an access key. This is now available by means of the additional authkey parameter for the Picasa invocation. Note that Google Photos doesn’t have a public API, and the old Picasa API remains. If you have created an album in Google Photos, you cannot directly use its ID in the plugin. But you can go to your PicasaWeb account, and see the newly created album listed there. You will also notice that PicasaWeb offers 2 options for “Limited” sharing – restricted albums from Google Photos show up as “Limited”, while the classical PicasaWeb option of “Limited, anyone with the link” still exists. You will need to change the album’s security settings to “Limited, anyone with the link”, unless you want to make it public. You can then use the authkey parameter to show the album using Photonic, by including the secret authorization key provided by Google.
  3. There was an obscure issue that was resultant from having a “.” in the id of a gallery. I have addressed this, thanks to some very handy tips provided in the WP support forum.

Have fun!

Jan 102016

I have released Photonic Version 1.52, with a plethora of changes:

  1. I have provided a new option to save the automatically generated CSS into a file. The option is under Photonic → Settings → Generic Options → Generic Settings.
  2. I had, in the previous version, provided support for “Random tiled galleries”. This was restricted to the photos displayed in the page. In this version this support has been extended to groups of Albums, Photosets, Galleries etc.
  3. There is now a new layout attribute supported in the shortcode. It takes the values square, circle or random. Whatever you specify here will override the global layout that you define under Photonic → Settings → Generic Options → Layouts.
  4. There was recently an issue reported regarding 500px collections. Upon investigating I found out that the whole API had changed. So, I adapted the code to the new API. In addition I found that I can now pull all collections for a user – something that I wasn’t able to do earlier. If you do not pass a view_id parameter to the shortcode while displaying a collection, it will display all of the collections for a user.
  5. A couple of versions back I added support for Swipebox, touting its gesture-friendly features. In this version I have extended gesture-support to Colorbox, PrettyPhoto and FancyBox. Since these libraries are not gesture-friendly by default, this requires an additional 12KB JavaScript. In my opinion, though, it is much easier to use Swipebox and directly launch the lightbox for libraries.
  6. I added a capability to bypass the interim album / gallery / photoset popup for PrettyPhoto as well. So, this feature is now available for both Swipebox and PrettyPhoto.
  7. I use a third-party script called “Wait for Images”, to wait for all images to finish loading. I have updated this to the latest version, which skips images blocked by firewalls instead of waiting forever.
  8. I hadn’t realized that the “Random Tiled Gallery” layout was not behaving properly for Fancybox, Colorbox and PrettyPhoto. I have corrected this behaviour.
  9. Apparently there was an issue wherein a lightbox triggered from the popup panel was pulling photos from other galleries etc., and this issue existed since the very initial releases of Photonic. I have fixed this.
  10. By default Swipebox blocks the title and navigation bars on mobiles. I have provided an option to enable them, under Photonic → Settings → Generic Options → Lightbox Library Settings

Hope you have fun with the plugin!

Jan 022016

A Happy New Year to all users of my themes and plugins!

With the New Year comes a new release of Photonic, version 1.51. I have been gradually ramping up the functionality of what happens to be my favourite plugin, and this time I have introduced what is a pretty big feature – tiled layouts! Jetpack users are familiar with the “Tiled Gallery” layout that it has, however the implementation in Jetpack was a lot simpler. Since Jetpack only deals with images in the user’s uploads folder, it can use the inbuilt WP functionality to determine image sizes etc. and all layout details can be computed in PHP, before serving the image to the user. However in Photonic, since your images are all on a CDN hosted elsewhere, determining the sizes can only happen in JavaScript (doing this in PHP can lead to beastly issues with server configuration etc.). Fortunately I found a very scientifically written article that let me define a “justified grid” in JavaScript. To activate tiled layouts, go to Photonic → Settings → Generic Options → Layouts, and tweak the options for “Image Layout” etc. As a bonus, you can also get Circular Thumbnails (like Jetpack). I have provided the ability to control the spacing between images, as well as the minimum height you want your tiles to be. Note that the tiled display is only on your page, not on the popup panel.

With this release and the the previous one (1.50), there is essentially a complete transformation in how you present your external galleries, to wit:

  • Pick Swipebox as your lightbox (Photonic → Settings → Generic Options → Generic Settings). This lets you use gestures on touch-enabled devices.
  • Enable tiled layouts (Photonic → Settings → Generic Options → Layouts)
  • Bypass the interim popup panel wherever you would originally see one (Photonic → Settings → Generic Options → Popup Panel)

With the above, you move away completely from the traditional grid of tiled thumbnails, and make your galleries look a lot more appealing. I will be focusing on such changes over the next few releases.

The other things I put into this release are all minor bug-fixes:

  1. I fixed an issue with applying borders and padding to “in-page” Flickr photos.
  2. While bypassing the popup, Swipebox would report an error if the photo descriptions were multi-line. This has been addressed.
  3. This was a remnant from a much older version of JQuery – upon saving the options, the backend wasn’t showing the last used screen. This should now be fixed.

Hope you enjoy this release.

Dec 172015

I have just released version 1.50 of Photonic, which has some pretty nifty updates. Here is a summary:

  1. One shortcoming that Photonic had was that it didn’t support gestures on mobile devices. That is one less shortcoming with version 1.50. I have added support for Swipebox, which is the default lightbox at present. Swipebox also happens to be pretty light (around 12KB), so all the more reason to use it.
  2. A happy by-product of Swipebox is another oft-requested feature. Many users have asked for the capability to bypass the popup panel that shows up when you click on a thumbnail for an album. If Swipebox is your lightbox, this is the default behaviour! To change the behaviour (and make it behave the traditional way with the popup), go to Photonic → Settings → Generic Options → Popup Panel, and toggle the field Enable popup for Swipebox.
  3. I hadn’t realized that the Zenfolio displays were broken due to a change in how Zenfolio provided object ids, and WP’s native code completely butchered those ids. This has been addressed.
  4. Smugmug has changed how its front-end, making it extremely difficult to find out what your album id is. So I have added a helper to make things easier, under Photonic → Helpers.
  5. This is more of a purely technical change – I switched the custom JQuery Tooltip code to the default JQuery Tooltip script supplied by WP. This makes things a bit easier for me from an implementation point of view.

Hope you enjoy this release!

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.