Finally, after about 3 weeks in beta and 1 more week in the approval process, Suffusion 4.0.0 is out. A lot of things have changed at various places in the theme, and some of these changes are groundbreaking:
- New Features
- Mega Menus
This is the first big-ticket addition for this release. Suffusion is now officially the first free theme to include Mega Menu support. To get them working:
- Go to Appearance → Menus.
- For any top-level menu item in a menu, under “Pick a widget area for a Mega Menu” pick a widget area, and set up the number of columns in the widget area.
- Then go to Appearance → Widgets and add widgets to the Widget Area you just selected.
There are 10 widget areas dedicated to mega menus, which can additionally be used in combination with Widget Logic to give you absolute control over your mega menus.
- Custom Layouts
This is the second big-ticket addition, with benefits outreaching the mega menus. You can now assign a “Custom Layout” template to your pages. This template offers you 5 dedicated widget areas, each of which can be configured to have its own number of columns. You can then add widgets into the widget areas and use Widget Logic to mix and match the widgets. Here is how you make this work:
- Go to Templates → Custom Layout template.
- Assign the number of columns you require in each widget area, and set up other aspects as appropriate.
- Go to Pages → Add New, put in the title, assign it the template “Custom Layout” and then “Save Draft”. In the Additional Options for Suffusion below you will see a new tab called “Custom Layout”.
- You can go to Additional Options for Suffusion → Custom Layout and set a different number of columns if you wish for a particular widget area to override the defaults. If you don’t do anything, this will pick up the defaults from Templates → Custom Layout template.
- You can also go to Additional Options for Suffusion → Layout, and pick a different sidebar layout if you wish.
- Go to Appearance → Widgets, and add widgets to Custom Layout Widget Areas 1-5.
- Go back to edit the page you created and publish it.
- For additional pages, create a page in the same manner, but to display different widgets use something like the Widget Logic plugin.
I am working on redesigning the theme page – once done, I will publish an article on how I did it.
- Layouts for Pages
This is the third big feature, but not in the league of the first two. So far if you had to get a different sidebar layout for a page, you would select the appropriate template. E.g. If your blog had one right sidebar and you wanted a static page with no sidebars, you could do this using the “No Sidebars” template. While this will still work, it is being deprecated in favour of the more flexible page layouts. With effect from this version you can go to Additional Options for Suffusion → Layout, and pick an appropriate sidebar layout for pages.
What is the advantage? It is quite simple: let’s say you want a login page without any sidebars, while your blog has sidebars. In the previous versions you could only select the Login template or the No Sidebars template, not both. But now you can assign the login template and pick the 0 sidebars layout and get your desired results.
- Additions to Featured Content
A host of options were added to the Featured Content (both static and the widget). You can now position the numbered index and the Previous / Pause / Next controls in different places. You can also use icons instead of textual representations etc.
- Additions to Query Posts
The Query Posts widget has some additions that might seem insignificant but are of paramount value. Firstly, you can now use them to display just the thumbnails, or the full contents. Secondly, you have the option to split the widget into its individual posts! Think about it – if you select the option to split, and you use this in a Custom Layout, you can essentially mimic the Magazine layout.
- Several Small Additions
There are several small additions in the code:
- I have received some requests in the past to disable the “Additional Options for Suffusion” box in the post editor. I never had a good solution for this earlier, however now you can do it by adding this in your child theme’s setup function:
- You can now toggle the breadcrumb display for individual pages from the Additional Options for Suffusion section.
- You can force excerpts to always show a “Read More” link. See Layouts → Layout: Excerpt / List / Tile / Mosaic / Full for the new option.
<!--more--> tag now gets an “excerpt-more” class added to it for customization.
- There was earlier an issue with Widget Logic, which didn’t treat conditionally empty widget areas as empty (the ones below the header and above the footer). I have added some script to automatically remove such widget areas.
- Changed Capabilities
- Code Housekeeping
Lots of tiny things have been changed to enhance code efficiency and flexibility:
- I made some fundamental changes with respect to code structuring, by separating admin functionality from front-end functionality and putting things in different files. This will further reduce page load times.
- I have optimized the custom-generated CSS for the widths of the widgets in the Widget Area Below Header and the Widget Area Above Footer.
- I have taken out the browser-specific CSS settings to a large extent (e.g. rounded corners and shadows). Further, navigation bar CSS has been trimmed down.
- The tile layout and the magazine template have been converted to use divs instead of tables. This now lets you position the “Full Story” button at the bottom of the containers.
- I have also fully dropped support for versions older than WP 3.1.
- The “Custom Types” functionality has been abstracted out to its own plugin.
- Earlier for the Magazine template you had to set the sidebar layout from Templates → Magazine. Now you have to do it from the Edit Page screen, in the Additional Options for Suffusion.
- I had to disable the help text display in versions 3.9.4-3.9.6 because WP had deprecated the APIs. I have added the capability back.
- Better Option Organization
Some options have been moved around a bit in the back-end:
- New Layouts tab in Suffusion Options
Settings for “No Sidebars”, “Single Left Sidebar”, “Single Right Sidebar” etc. have been moved to the new Layouts section from the Templates section. Also, other layout related settings such Sidebar 1 and Sidebar 2 positioning options have been moved to this section under “Default Sidebar Layout”, including “Sizes and Margins” from Other Graphical Elements. The last new section here is “Layout: Excerpt / List / Tile / Mosaic / Full”, which has been moved from Other Graphical Elements.
- New Typography tab in Suffusion Options
Some people had reported issues saving options under Skinning → Typography. I have moved all the typography options to a new section to help resolve these issues.
- Rearranged Additional Options for Suffusion in the Edit screen
What was one big section that used to show up under the editor as “Additional Options for Suffusion” has been split into tabs that show up as appropriate for posts and pages.
- Bug Fixes
Version 3.9.6 was very stable and hardly had any bugs. The following minor niggles have been fixed:
- The “Continue Reading” string was not showing up for translation.
- The CSS class corresponding to the correct colour scheme was not being assigned to the body element.
Do bear in mind that this is a very big release. Suffusion’s beta testers have been thorough with what they have tested, however with great options come scary combinations and scarier layouts. It is possible that in spite of our combined efforts some issues have slipped through the cracks. If so, do let me know in the forum and I will work on resolving them immediately.
If you like this release, please take a moment to thank Mark van Jaarsveld, Miguel Koscianski Vidal, Colin Spencer and several other testers (Reza, Greg, Bob Schecter etc.) for their diligence and continued bug reporting. You folks rock!