Aug 032013
 
Design

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.

Jan 212013
 
Design

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.

Jan 132013
 
Design

Version 4.4.5 got approved today. This version has the following changes:

  1. I have removed all uses of the “Pointer API”. This was the piece of code that used to show tips about changes in the new versions. This change was again necessitated by the WPTRT, since contrary to Andrew Nacin’s claims about the core team having no influence over the review team, the opposite does tend to happen quite often. This change came about because the core team didn’t want themes using this API. Anyway, this is not a big deal, and it only presents some loss of information.
  2. One of the recent additions to the JetPack plugin was Photon (not to be confused with my plugin Photonic). Photon offers some impressive functionality, like caching of your images and their dynamic resizing. So if you have JetPack and if you have activated the Photon module there, Suffusion can use Photon for resizing the images instead of the inbuilt resizer. You can switch this on from Appearance → Suffusion Options → Other Graphical Elements → Miscellaneous → Use JetPack Photon for Resizing. This is generally going to be more reliable since Suffusion’s resizing is handcuffed by the limitations of WP’s resizing capabilities. It is possible that the Photon integration may have some glitches, and if you find any, please report them. You will be able to turn off Photon integration and resume with your blog the way it was originally if some Photon-based feature doesn’t work out.

Hope you enjoy this release.

Dec 132012
 
Design

I was hoping version 4.4.4 would go live on 12.12.12, which unfortunately was missed by a day. Here are the updates in this version:

  1. I removed the two shortcodes in the theme that could be classified as “post content” shortcodes – suffusion-widgets and suffusion-multic (along with its companionsuffusion-column). This is thanks to the guideline change from the review team, as mentioned in my previous post.
  2. JQuery 1.8.3 bundled with WP 3.5 was causing a conflict, resulting in problems in featured content display. That has been addressed. Sorry for not catching this prior to the WP 3.5 go-live.

I have also updated the Suffusion Shortcodes plugin to version 1.01. There was a small problem causing clashes with other non-plugin shortcodes in the previous version. This version should work just fine. You will need this version if you were using any of the removed shortcodes from Suffusion itself.

The other plugin updated is Suffusion BuddyPress Pack, which had a typo in one line, resulting in a script not loading.

Dec 072012
 
Design

It took a while, but version 4.4.3 of Suffusion is finally live. This version has a handful of changes:

  1. New Features:
    1. I have added an option to disable widgets, under Back-End → Modules. In there you will see a listing of all of Suffusion’s custom widgets. If you are not going to be using a particular widget, feel free to disable that widget. It will reduce the load on your server.
  2. Bug Fixes:
    1. I have fixed a problem that was causing all tiles in a tile layout to be of the same height.
    2. There was also a problem where users were unable to unset certain options, like the one to make responsive layouts compatible for iOS devices. This should now be working.
  3. Code Housekeeping:
    1. I have removed most of the BP integration content that was bundled with the theme. This is mainly because BP integration is exclusively supported in the Suffusion BuddyPress Pack, and this plugin has been around for a couple of years now.
    2. I have also completely separated out conditional WPML code so that it doesn’t load with the theme if you don’t have WPML installed.
    3. I have moved the CSS generation code to a dedicated CSS generation file from functions.php. This reduces the load for those scenarios where the CSS is not being generated.
    4. I have removed the BGIFrame library from the JS code, since the theme doesn’t aim to support IE6. This library was intended to help IE6 users not have issues with overlapping navigation bars.
    5. I have deleted some functions that were no longer being used in the theme.

As I write this, WP 3.5 is nearing its release. For several reasons I am not very thrilled about this.

Firstly, this release, as in the case of the previous one focuses on style rather than substance. There are several tickets in WP with patches for some WP problems, which don’t seem to get triaged ever. Instead the core developers focus on things like supporting larger theme screenshots in the back-end. In the meanwhile, several of my pet peeves (such as the fact that two active plugins cannot both modify the navigation menu traversal) continue to be ignored.

Secondly, the dogmatic approach of the theme review team, which reaches new levels with every major WP release, is now becoming too much of a headache to deal with. The latest set of guidelines that will be effective around a month after 3.5 goes live has some gems that make me want to stop theme development for good:

  1. New guideline under presentation-vs-functionality: Themes must not bundle custom post-content shortcodes
    While I understand that this is intended to prevent “lock-in”, the levels to which the review team is willing to go to shove this down our throats is astounding. The above essentially means that two particular shortcodes that Suffusion offers, suffusion-widgets (which lets you do ad hoc widgets) and suffusion-multic (which helps you do multi-columns) have to be pulled from the theme very soon. It doesn’t matter that these have been in the theme so long that if they are pulled, sites can break. More surprisingly, it doesn’t even matter that to prevent a lock-in I published a plugin (Suffusion Shortcodes) that will help users transition out. I made several suggestions like making theme authors bundling such shortcodes indicate this in their readme files or in the theme CSS header. I even volunteered to write a patch to core that will make users aware that a theme is defining custom shortcodes and alert users to the potential lock-in. But none of this made a difference.
  2. Timing for making do_settings_sections() required (as opposed merely to recommended) as part of Settings API implementation
    This isn’t one that affects me, but it makes me wonder if the review team is really so starved of work that they think up such ridiculous “guidelines”. I can say without a trace of hubris that I have pushed the WP Settings API farther than any other theme author on this planet. To the best of my knowledge there is no other theme that does 2-level options pages using the Settings API honestly (and I use the aforementioned do_settings_sections calls, which are terrible). And IMO the Settings API is among the lousiest and most hard-to-use pieces of code in WP. Telling users to use it for their options is like asking them to start drinking kerosene instead of water. I would love to see other themes with multiple options pages embrace this and use this function whole-heartedly. Of course, this isn’t a full-blown guideline yet, so it might not see the light of day.

Basically, the Theme Review Team is fine as long as it reviews theme quality. But telling a theme that it cannot include certain features even when such features are offered separately in a plugin primarily to prevent lock-in is BS. The people making the recommendations, for the most part don’t have to handle massive user bases, and that gives them a woefully inadequate view of ground realities. What is more amusing is that prior to each release there is an elaborate charade of “gaining consensus on guidelines”, yet what happens is that the only people whose opinions count are core developers, WP community big-shots and admin reviewers (I am none).

While I don’t normally rant here, the latest revision to the guidelines upset me so much that I have seriously begun to evaluate if developing Suffusion is worth it. It isn’t that I am upset because somebody has taken away my new toys. If you check Suffusion’s history you will see that however convoluted a requirement is, I have always managed to handle it even if I don’t agree to it. But there is always a straw that breaks the camel’s back; hopefully this wasn’t mine. A hobby is supposed to be fun, and I have been avoiding Suffusion development because the fun is all being bled out of it.

In the meanwhile, the Instagram module of Photonic is almost ready!

Nov 152012
 

While not Suffusion’s worst release by any stretch (that dishonour goes to version 3.7.4), version 4.4.0 did have some quirks that typically accompany releases that mess around too much with layouts and have been in development for a long but scattered period of time. The currently available version, 4.4.2 should address most of the issues seen:

  1. The worst bug of the lot was one that refused to accept custom image size parameters for images. Luckily the bug was caught within a few hours of the release and I was able to patch it the same evening.
  2. The next bug was the hanging of the tiles layout due to an unresponsive script, which I have taken care of.
  3. The third fix was for a duplicated index of posts in the static featured content. This was a curious bug, which I am not sure that I have rectified fully, mainly because I have not been able to replicate this on my test sites. However I have put in a stopgap fix that will prevent the index from duplicating.
  4. The last fix is again for the tiles layout, where the tiles were appearing too short for their content.

Hopefully this will resolve most of the issues that you have faced after 4.4.0.

Nov 092012
 
Design

More with a sense of relief than anything else I announce the arrival of version 4.4.0 of Suffusion, a.k.a. the Responsive edition, which went live just a while back. The following are the changes in this version:

  1. New Features
    1. As mentioned above, this release was all about checking the box against “Responsive”. I did try to put a good amount of power in the hands of the users:
      1. The feature is “opt-in”. It is turned off by default and you can configure your settings by going to Suffusion Options → Layouts → Responsive Layout.
      2. You can pick which breakpoints you want to configure. Note that for every breakpoint there is a good bit of CSS added, so exercise prudence.
      3. Typically themes either kill a sidebar or shove it to the bottom of the content when they decide to go responsive. Suffusion lets you as a user decide what you want to do. If your sidebars have enough content to warrant a display on a small screen you can decide to show them at the bottom, and more importantly you have the choice of putting your sidebars side-by-side if you have more than one sidebar. This is of particular advantage on midway screen sizes such as 650px.
      4. You can also do some fancy things like switch your navigation menus to “select” boxes if your width goes down below a point.
      5. While most elements have been made responsive, the following need to be noted:
        1. Featured content is responsive only if you check the setting to make images stretch to the full width. It took a huge effort getting JQuery Cycle to behave in a responsive manner.
        2. The Headline box in the Magazine template and the Masonry-based layouts are NOT responsive.
        3. The featured content slider doesn’t respond to swipe gestures – that will be handled in a later release.
        4. I have to make some modifications to the menus so that they play well with touch devices. Currently if you tap on a menu item on a touch device it opens up the sub-menu if the menu item itself is not linked to a separate page. However if the menu item is linked to a separate page, tapping takes you to the page rather than showing the sub-menu.
  2. Bug Fixes
    1. A missing CSS file was being loaded for BP 1.6+. This has been corrected.
    2. The setting for the number of widgets in the “Widgets in Header” was not being respected. This has been fixed.
    3. I fixed an issue where the audio shortcode was not showing the audio player even if it was enabled.
    4. A couple of layout-related issues have been addressed: Webkit browsers (Chrome and Safari) weren’t automatically setting boxes to a fixed height in the Custom Layout and the Magazine template. In addition, Opera 12.x was misbehaving for the Custom Layout template.
    5. The Featured Posts widget was, in some cases, repeating the post index. This has been addressed.
    6. I have corrected a bug where the left and right arrow icons were reversed in some iconsets.
    7. Another bug was causing a post with no title in the Query Posts widget to show up with no linking text. This has been rectified to match the behaviour of the Recent Posts widget, where an id is shown as the linking text.
    8. Activating FancyBox was causing a lot of errors to show up in the logs for IE browsers. Since Suffusion doesn’t support IE6, I saw no harm in removing the lines causing the errors.
  3. Changed Features
    1. I have removed the version of the Meta widget that came with Suffusion. This widget was mostly identical to the default Meta widget and it served no great purpose by itself. If you had the meta widget in your sidebar, you will need to re-add it.
    2. Ever since version 4.0.0 I have had a combination of JS and CSS3 multi-columns to balance the widths and margins of blocks of text, such as the Custom Layout widget areas. I have now moved to a pure CSS solution that works on all browsers and is much more robust and stable.
    3. This is more techno-speak than anything else. I had some static markup calls in the main sidebar, which I have now replaced with calls to the_widget.
    4. I used to use an online PO file generator to build the theme’s PO file. But I realized that this generator tended to drop quite a few strings. So starting from this release I am using a different PO file generation technique. Naturally this has caused a spike in the number of strings that are to be translated.

Do bear in mind that I am not a fan of the common interpretation of “responsive” design – it only adds a lot more page weight for the measly benefit of showing your site differently on a device not capable of handling the extra page weight. However, there are times when ideology takes a backseat and one has to adapt. This happens to be one of those times. Personally I am still a fan of a dedicated mobile site for handling mobile requirements – responsive designs are a fad in this regard. Of course, you could still establish server-side controls for a lot of these things. E.g. The code could be made to detect a mobile browser behind the scenes and automatically give out an image with a lower resolution. Unfortunately such techniques haven’t been perfected yet.

So here’s hoping that you enjoy this release. For support continue using the forum, and please feel free to rate Suffusion or Photonic or FontMeister.

Sep 282012
 
Design

Nope, this is not the responsive release. This version has the following updates:

  1. The shortcodes bundled with the theme had stopped working, requiring the users to explicitly add the “Suffusion Shortcodes” plugin. I have corrected the issue in the theme.
  2. Three updates had been requested by Drake, and since I owe him a huge debt of gratitude for all the help he provides on the forum, I implemented all of them:
    1. Modified the Twitter widget to link the tweeter’s profile picture to the user’s Twitter page.
    2. Modified the “Follow Me” widget so that it can pick up icons from the images/follow folder in a child theme.
    3. Added the capability to specify a link to a custom page in the “Query Posts” widget for the “All Posts” button.

Hope you enjoy the release.

Sep 242012
 
Design

Version 4.3.2 of Suffusion is now available for download. This version has the following changes:

  1. There was a minor issue in the magazine layout, which caused the text to overflow the headline box if the browser window was resized. I have addressed this.
  2. There was a discussion on the WP Theme Reviewers’ List a couple of weeks back that got ugly. The discussion was about the use of the “translation-ready” tag if the back-end was not translatable. Since Suffusion’s back-end is not translatable, I have removed the tag. This does not mean that the theme is not translatable! The front-end translation still behaves the way it used to – so this is more of a change impacting me rather than you or your users.
  3. There were some issues with the “Additional Options for Suffusion” box, where the tabs and fields were not getting positioned correctly. I have addressed those.
  4. I have also released the Suffusion Shortcodes plugin, which can be downloaded from its official WP page. This plugin essentially contains all the shortcodes used in Suffusion, but with a major advantage. You can leverage the full power of Suffusion’s shortcodes even if you stop using the theme!

I am working on the responsive aspects as and when I get some time off my regular job. Unfortunately things have not been that lightweight at work, so the responsive version (4.4.0) will take a bit more time than anticipated.

Sep 042012
 
Design

Version 4.3.1 of Suffusion went live earlier today. This version has the following changes:

  1. I fixed a minor issue in the default background colours for the Photonique and the Minima – in one iteration they had been erroneously set to dark gray instead of black and white respectively.
  2. I changed the calls for get_the_author_meta('display_name') to get_the_author for better compatibility with some plugins

I am aware of a layout bug in the post edit screen – I will fix that in the next version.