Sep 182011
 

Almost 2 months after the last version, Suffusion 3.8.3 is here. This is another big release with a hopefully small impact. As mentioned earlier, the focus of this release was on making the theme more framework-like. Here is the change log for this release:

  1. New Features
    1. Enhanced Breadcrumbs:
      After a slew of questions from lots of users regarding breadcrumb display, I went ahead and built some powerful breadcrumb functionality. If you have “Yoast Breadcrumbs” or “Breadcrumb Trail” your breadcrumbs will not be affected, but otherwise you can use Suffusion’s breadcrumbs. The breadcrumbs can be displayed on single posts, custom posts, archives (categories, date archives tags etc) and is fairly intuitive. They are not activated by default and can be switched on from Other Graphical Settings → Breadcrumbs and Page Navigation.
    2. Support for Native Custom Backgrounds:
      At the time of releasing 3.8.2 the feedback given to me was that I should use WP’s native Custom Background functionality. So I have gone ahead and provided that. If you define something in under Appearance → Background, it will override the settings within Suffusion.
    3. New Options:
      1. You can disable Featured Content on second/third etc pages from an archive view. In other words, only the first page of your category/tag etc will show the featured content. Toggle the option at Other Graphical Settings → Featured Content → Where to Show → First page / all pages.
      2. Along similar lines you can disable full content posts on second/third etc pages of a tiled/list/mosaic layout. Toggle this at Other Graphical Settings → Layout: Excerpt / List / Tile / Mosaic / Full → Full content posts on first page / all pages (for selections above).
      3. Quite surprisingly a feature that has existed since a long time was requested to be taken off recently, twice. Suffusion automatically adjusts images in their original aspect ratio. But some users didn’t want that. You can now disable the aspect ratio fix from Other Graphical Settings → Miscellaneous → Image Aspect Ratio.
      4. Another pilloried feature was the “Allowed HTML Tags” message that shows up at the bottom of the comment form. Several users don’t like it. So you can now remove it from Back-end Settings → Comment Settings.
      5. Suffusion’s Export/Import functionality used to operate only on non-id fields. With this release you can now have two kinds of exports: one that doesn’t export id-based options (useful if you have multiple active sites and just want the same look on them) and another that exports all options (useful if you are moving from DEV to PROD).
      6. You can now control whether the previous / next post should be restricted to the current category. You can also control whether you want the links above the content, below the content, in both places or not at all. See Other Graphical Settings → Breadcrumbs and Page Navigation → Previous / Next Posts.
  2. Bug Fixes
    The following bugs have been taken care of:
    1. There was a problem with Minima, where the display of Asides and some other Post Formats was getting hammered with multiple pullouts.
    2. If the last item in a post was a floated image, things after it were not being cleared properly.
    3. Nested list items in comments were not getting styled properly.
    4. In the “Featured Posts” widget the “Previous” and “Next” buttons were only showing if the slider index was activated.
    5. In the “Query Posts” widget the posts were not displaying in a random order if requested.
    6. If you assigned a “No Sidebars” layout to a single post it was not getting picked up.
    7. The Magazine template and the tile layout were getting incorrect widths for their excerpts if the number of sidebars they had was not the default.
    8. Due to an improper use of CSS in the comment form, labels from other plugins were getting formatted incorrectly.
    9. The image thumbnail functionality wasn’t behaving well in case the image title had special characters.
    10. In the “Static Tabbed Sidebar” if you attempted to put in a “Links” tab, it wasn’t possible to change its title.
    11. The Twitter widget was failing XHTML validation due to its JavaScript.
    12. Post thumbnails in IE were getting “squashed”.
  3. Code Housekeeping
    There was a major level of code housekeeping in this release:
    1. Framework Files
      For ease of use and modification I have broken out various oft changed pieces of code in Suffusion to their own files. All these files are in a folder called “custom”. If you want to modify any of them, simply create a folder called “custom” in your child theme, then copy the file from Suffusion that you want to change and proceed with making the changes. Easy. I will post an article in a few days showing how you can use these files. The following files have been created in Suffusion’s “custom” folder:
      1. byline-tile.php: Handles the byline display for the magazine layout and the tile layout.
      2. pagination-mosaic.php, pagination-comments.php and pagination-posts.php: Handle the display for pagination of the Mosaic layout, comments and posts.
      3. seo.php: Obviously, handles SEO aspects.
      4. pullout.php and pullout-page.php: Manage the display of “pullout” style bylines for posts and pages respectively.
      5. navigation.php: Contains the Navigation Menu code.
      6. post-header.php and post-footer.php: Respectively contain the elements to be displayed before and after the post content.
      7. breadcrumb-page.php and breadcrumb.php: Respectively contain the breadcrumb logic for pages and everything else.
      8. prev-next.php: Handles the previous and next page display.
      9. site-footer.php: Displays the credit at the bottom of your site.
    2. Load Optimization
      1. Core Load Optimization
        1. I optimized several aspects of the application load. The back-end, you will notice, has become sprightly. On the front-end by separating things into several files I only load files when absolutely necessary, making things a lot faster. I will fine-tune things further in subsequent releases.
        2. In addition to the framework-type files, I have also separated the functions that deal with BP compatibility into a separate file. This will not affect BP users, but will speed things up for non-BP users.
        3. I have for now disabled the “Version Checker”. I noticed that for some people this was causing memory issues, hence this action.
        4. I have removed a lot of redundant functions from the code, combined functions where possible etc.
        5. I have also removed the “FAQ” section of the Admin panel – the section had really old information and though Colin provided suggestions on how to make it better, maintaining that was simply too much of an overhead.
      2. Query Optimization
        In several cases I have fine-tuned the queries being executed in the database. The biggest example is the navigation bar, where I have drastically reduced the number. The net result is that the number of database queries being executed is very similar to several themes that are loaded with a lot less functionality.
      3. Script Optimization
        1. I performed major CSS optimization. Firstly I separated the BP-specific CSS to its own file. This will speed up things for non-BP users and will not affect BP users with a caching plugin.
        2. I also heavily optimized the CSS code for the navigation menus, taking out several lines of code.
        3. I combined some JS files to save server round-trips.
        4. Lastly I introduced sprites where possible. Note that things like body backgrounds, list bullets etc cannot be handled using sprites without errors, so you will still see non-sprite images.
  4. Changed Features
    1. Tables now occupy 100% of the width by default, in both, main content as well as comments.
    2. The login template bundled with the theme now redirects to the home page instead of the WP installation page upon successful login.
    3. Earlier there used to be an incompatibility between Suffusion and SEO plugins in terms of the use of wp_title. This has been addressed – whether or not you use Suffusion’s SEO, wp_title is the call that will always be used.
    4. Text is now left-aligned by default, instead of being justified.

Hope you like this release.

Now, back to Photonic, some other plugins and some theme skins.

Sep 182011
 

I released version 1.03 of Suffusion BuddyPress Pack a while back. This version addresses the following:

  1. I have added support for CubePoints. Note that you will also need CubePoints BuddyPress Integration for this.
  2. I have also added support for BuddyPress 1.5. If you are using 1.5, make sure you “(Re)Build” the templates.
  3. I have been working on some optimization and streamlining of the templates and stylesheets. So, while I have fixed some other bugs like button text being indiscernible from the button, you will not see it until Suffusion 3.8.4 (not 3.8.3) comes out.

Cheers.

Sep 072011
 

I uploaded a new version of Photonic today (1.02). This provides a UI interface for insertion of the shortcodes and makes it easier for you because you don’t have to remember a bunch of parameter names.

I would have dearly liked to provide access to SmugMug, but I have been twiddling my thumbs since putting in my request for API access last week.

Also, a couple more things are on my agenda for Flickr: access to Galleries (as opposed to Photosets and Collections) and display of single photos with description, comments etc. Anyone out there with a Flickr gallery that I can showcase?

(As you can guess I am looking for diversions to get around the fact that the native Custom Header Images requirement in Suffusion is causing me grief)

Sep 062011
 

It has been a while since I provided a Suffusion update, with Photonic having consumed most of my development time. However, with the first version of Photonic out of the gates I can now get back to Suffusion.

Contrary to my promise earlier, this release of Suffusion is not small in terms of a change log:

  1. The bulk of the changes deal with performance. On the admin page side of things I have cut down memory usage a fair bit and now the back-end is a lot more responsive. On the front-end things were tougher to optimize because already a lot of things were quite heavily optimized.
  2. I have also isolated several bits and pieces into separate files – breadcrumbs, menus, site footer, individual post header and footer etc. This will help you override things much easier in a child theme.
  3. I have built in some rather nice breadcrumb functionality which is a lot broader than something that just applies to pages. Stay tuned.
  4. There are some other small changes to facilitate ease of use/migration.
  5. One of the key things mentioned to me in the previous release by a reviewer is that since I am offering the capability to use custom headers and custom backgrounds, I should use the native WP functionality. While custom backgrounds were rather easy to provide, the custom header piece is proving to be a major headache. WP requires you to define a header width upfront, which is not possible in Suffusion thanks to the fact that your page width is fully customizable. I believe this feature can be overridden with a hook, but I have, at this point, decided to give it a rest and revisit it when I have had a good rest. Once I am done with this feature I should be able to release this version.

A full change log will be published once I release the theme, and that will happen as soon as I am done with the native Custom Header Image functionality.

Once I am done with this release it will be back to focusing on Photonic and a new font management plugin that I have visualized. Also, the release after 3.8.3 of Suffusion should have a new skin. I do want to build one that is more conducive for photo-blogging, but I am in two minds whether I should release it as a part of Suffusion’s core or as a separate child theme. Right now the child theme route is looking very tempting, because that way I don’t have to burden Suffusion’s core.

Sep 032011
 

Thanks to all of you who submitted bug reports for Photonic. I have released a small patch (version 1.01) with 2 changes:

  1. The JS and CSS files in the admin panel were getting included in other admin pages – that has been fixed.
  2. I included the missing translation file, photonic.po.

Thanks.

Sep 022011
 

Finally, after several weeks of effort I was able to push the first version of Photonic out! It is now available for download from WordPress.

I had to drop some features, like some JS libraries, but at least I could get it working to a very large extent. Also, unlike Suffusion, I hope to keep tight control around the documentation for the plugin. Do take some time to visit the Photonic home-page and let me know what you think.

Support for Photonic will be handled through the Aquoid Support Forum.

I did notice after uploading the plugin that while the texts were translation capable, I had forgotten to include a PO file for the plugin. I will add it in the next release.

Aug 222011
 

Suffusion today became one of very few themes to have been downloaded officially more than 500,000 times from WordPress.org. The other themes in this category are Atahualpa, iNove, Lightword and Mystique – all themes much much older than Suffusion apart from Mystique.

A Big Thank You to all of you users!

The next release of Suffusion is going to be a “framework release”. I am going to be pulling out a lot of bits and pieces of the code into separate files which you can override in child themes very easily. Some classic examples of this are the site footer that is displayed, or how the pullouts show up for different post formats. Apart from other things this will also reduce the load on the site. Suffusion holds the distinction of being a GUI Framework with ease of code modification, but this move will make it even easier to modify the code in the theme.

Of course, Photonic should be out rather soon too. But till then, enjoy the theme!

Aug 172011
 

Folks familiar with the WordPress universe are probably aware of a major vulnerability that was discovered in TimThumb recently. For others, TimThumb is an image resizing script that is very popular among WP theme developers who like to offer that extra bit of customization to users. When the WP team was made aware of the exploit they immediately suspended all themes in the WP repository that had TimThumb and sent a message to the authors to fix the themes.

In fact, Suffusion had TimThumb bundled with it for a long time, since version 3.2.2. However, owing to a crackdown by the WP Theme Review Team on themes not using WP’s native resizing capabilities, I took the decision to remove TimThumb from Suffusion’s core in version 3.7.5.

So why am I writing this? There are a couple of reasons:

  1. Some sites have been publishing false and half-researched information claiming that Suffusion has TimThumb. I did post back on their site pointing out that Suffusion hasn’t had a trace of TimThumb since six months, but I don’t see that things have changed. Just to assuage your concerns, here is how you can check for yourself:
    1. Go to Suffusion’s version control page on WP.
    2. Click on the link for the latest version, 3.8.2. You will not see anything that deals with TimThumb anywhere. Typically themes have a file called timthumb.php or thumb.php.
    3. In fact, check back to version 3.7.4, and you won’t see it anywhere.
  2. Now, the real reason for writing. A user posted a question on the support forum asking why thumbnails were not displaying. I checked, and found that the site in question was using TimThumb. Digging just a bit further revealed that the user was on a version of the theme that is almost one year old, while TimThumb has been removed from the theme quite a while back. So, if you have a version of Suffusion at 3.7.3 or older, please UPGRADE now!!! Even if you have backups of WP with old versions of the theme or backups of old versions of the theme itself, do the upgrade. I cannot stress enough how important this is! It might be a case of closing the stable door after the horse has bolted, but it is better to secure your server now rather than later. Note that if your installation is already infected, you have to do major cleanup on your site and it is best to hire an expert for it. Also note that even if you have other themes on your site that are not active, and those themes have TimThumb, your site stands the risk of being infected, because TimThumb can be invoked without loading WordPress.

The current released version (3.8.2) is quite stable. It has very few bugs, and they are fairly minor and pertain entirely to new functionality. So you shouldn’t face any issues due to the upgrade. As you are probably aware, I make every effort possible to ensure you have a low change impact, so things should be generally fine if you are upgrading from a pre-3.7.5 version to the current one. However I have had some users lose some flexibility with respect to resizing. For example, TimThumb could resize upwards as well as downwards. The native resizer only resizes downwards.

Aug 052011
 
How To

This is an easy one, thanks to the recently updated “Query Posts” widget. The “Query Posts” widget offers you a lot more in terms of what you can use it for, so be sure to play around with all the options there.

Here is what you do:

  1. Do not include the standard “Recent Posts” widget in your sidebar.
  2. Add the “Query Posts” widget to the sidebar.
  3. Set the number of posts you want to display.
  4. Set the order to be “Descending”, and order by “Creation Date”.
  5. Set the “Post Display Style” to be “Thumbnail and title” or “Thumbnail, title and excerpt”.
  6. Pick the right size for the thumbnail and pick an excerpt length.
  7. Set the categories to be shown as “Any Category”

That’s it.

~Fin~

Aug 032011
 

A year back to the day I was celebrating Suffusion’s first Birthday. Time has flown since then and we now have me writing the second Birthday mail already!

I had promised a few things a year back:

  1. Better Typography – I am writing a plugin for font management and I will have incorporate aspects of that into the theme.
  2. Prettier Designs – Still working on those. You can expect one very soon.
  3. Better Theme Skinning – I have delivered on most counts here. The only big thing not currently skinnable is the sidebar.
  4. Some Stunning Widget Area Concepts – I have built out some (hopefully) good new widgets. The widget areas should also make their way into the theme soon. Who knows? Maybe I will do a release jump from 3.8.x to 4.0.0 to coincide with this. I honestly don’t know when I can deliver this, but it is something I dearly want to offer.

Due to reorganized priorities and a lot of changes on the personal front I had to rethink what I could offer over the last year. I did quite a few things I hadn’t thought of:

  1. Fluid layouts
  2. Rewriting of the options framework to be more inline with WP’s recommendations
  3. Retiring TimThumb in favour of the native WP image resizer
  4. Some pretty cool features like sidebar control for individual views, byline controls
  5. Support for WP features introduced with every new version.
  6. Lots of new widgets

All in all the second year has been good – Suffusion won quite a few popularity contests, it was made a featured theme on the official theme repository and its lifetime download count is close to 500,000. Not in my dreams had I expected something I wrote to be downloaded half a million times.

And now for the “one more thing” announcement: Photonic is here. Almost.

Photonic is a plugin that I have written to catch those Photo-blogging features that I had originally planned for 3.7.9/3.8.0. It is an extension of the regular gallery short-code that WP provides. Here is what it can do:

  1. Native Gallery Extension
    1. You can now insert a gallery into a post and make it display as a slide-show, either in-place, or as a popup.
    2. You can also display the thumbnail strip at the bottom of your gallery and have full-sized images display there.
  2. Flickr Support
    This is the heart of the plugin and I spent a lot of time building and testing this out. You can:
    1. Display all photos in a Photoset using photoset_id=’x’
    2. Display all Photosets for a user using user_id=’x’ and view=’photosets’
    3. Display all Photosets in a collection using user_id=’x’ and collection_id=’y’
    4. Display all Photosets grouped by Collection for a user using user_id=’x’ and view=’collections’
    5. Display photos based on search criteria
  3. Picasa Support
    During the course of writing the code I realized how much easier it was to use the Flickr APIs than the Picasa ones. However you can do the following with Picasa:
    1. Display all photos for a user
    2. Display all photos for a user within an album
  4. Support for Well-known JQuery libraries
    I have added support for the following popular JQuery libraries:
    1. Fancybox
    2. Colorbox
    3. Slimbox2
    4. Thickbox

Note that this plugin is different from other photoblogging plugins:

  1. It doesn’t let you define new galleries on each post like NextGEN.
  2. It doesn’t process photos on your disk to generate galleries. This might come on my radar later on.
  3. It doesn’t pull images from other photo-blogging platforms such as Coppermine, ZenPhoto, PixelPost or Gallery2. This is something definitely on my radar – it might be as simple as supporting the Media RSS format.

The plugin offers you pretty good control over options. One scenario where it might not work is if you have conflicting plugins (or even themes) using Scriptaculous or Mootools – I haven’t tested this out.

Think of this plugin as a gallery extension to help display your photos from whichever platform you currently use. It is smart enough to pull up titles, descriptions and EXIF as required. By not bundling these features with the theme I am letting you pick the theme of your choice and run with the plugin.

I need about a week more (or 2 at the most) to close out any remaining issues in the plugin. My day job has been quite brutal the last few weeks, hindering my ability to deliver this quicker than I am doing right now. I have, for now, built a few test pages that you can play with. Feel free to click around and let me know what you think.