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.

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 112013

I have just released version 1.41 of Photonic with the following updates:

  1. One of the most popular plugins in WP is JetPack, and it also happens to be one that messes up other plugins quite a lot. I didn’t have JetPack active for a while since unknown to me the last time I had tried to update JetPack I wasn’t successful. But apparently having some modules of JetPack activated, like “Publicize”, would cause the galleries to be evaluated twice, resulting in messed up global variables for Photonic. To cut a long story short, login buttons were not appearing. While JetPack is the culprit here, I understand that the 800lb gorillas are the toughest to dislodge, hence I made some changes in Photonic to get around this.
  2. I have added support for the ids parameter for the native shortcode in the “Add Media” panel.
  3. I have added options to control the display of the thumbnail, title and photo count in SmugMug album headers

Hope you enjoy this release. As usual, if you like Photonic please leave a review for it.

Jan 102013

I have just released version 1.02 of Suffusion Shortcodes with a minor change. Earlier the [suffusion-widgets] shortcode was not respecting the container-class parameter … because shortcode parameters cannot have hyphens in them! I had overlooked this several months ago when I introduced the functionality and it only got caught today. I have fixed this error in version 1.02.

Note that you have to specify container_class='custom-class' instead of container-class='custom-class' (note the underscore instead of the hyphen).