Sep 212012
 
Plugin

Version 4.3.2 of Suffusion has been on a painfully slow “go-live” process. While the plugin was approved about 5 days back, it hasn’t been made live yet, meaning you cannot use it for at least a few more days. In the meanwhile my request for a new plugin, “Suffusion Shortcodes” got approved.

As mentioned earlier, this plugin is essentially a collection of shortcodes available within Suffusion. The primary audience for this plugin are the folks who have used the shortcodes of Suffusion extensively and feel that it is shackling them from moving to other themes. By using this plugin you will be able to keep all your content absolutely safe. I am undecided on whether I will continue with enhancing the shortcodes within Suffusion itself in the future, but I know for sure that if I make any shortcode improvements, they will definitely be in this plugin. So even if you are a Suffusion user, I encourage you to download this plugin. The plugin is active from its official WP page. The list of shortcodes and their usage can be found here.

Sep 212012
 
Plugin

I managed to track down the oddest bug I have seen in code in a long time when I worked to release version 1.25 of Photonic. After the last release quite a few users noticed that the 500px.com module had stopped working. This was particularly surprising to me because I could see 500px.com working perfectly on my local install, but failing elsewhere, such as the demo site. I never would have guessed, but the problem was that my development environment is a 64-bit machine while my live environment is a 32-bit machine. That was causing the maximum possible integer in PHP to be evaluated differently on the two platforms, and since I was comparing dates using this number as a bound, the 64-bit and 32-bit machines were returning differing results.

Anyway, this is the gist of this version of Photonic:

  1. Fixed the above issue.
  2. There was an issue that you wouldn’t have noticed if you weren’t connected to the web – trying to view a 500px.com gallery while not connected would result in a fatal error. This has been taken care of.

Hope this fixes the 500px.com issues for you.

Sep 192012
 
Announcement

Version 4.3.2 of Suffusion has been approved, but it hasn’t gone live yet. While I wait for that to happen, I would like to post a few updates regarding what’s been cooking on Aquoid.

Along with the development of 4.3.2, I worked on a plugin called “Suffusion Shortcodes”. This plugin unshackles shortcodes from the theme, by bundling all of them and making them available separately. I did this to quell the debate of whether the shortcodes belong to a theme or to a plugin. With my current approach the shortcodes could coexist in both places. If you decide to stop using Suffusion in the future, you could use this plugin and keep all your shortcodes and content safe. If you use this plugin along with Suffusion you will get the added benefits of some customizability. The plugin is currently awaiting approval from the WP admins.

Another thing that I have been working on is FontMeister. You will be happy to learn that I have almost completed the support for Font Squirrel. I am in the process of ironing out some kinks, and once I am done I will release the update.

The third aspect I am working on is Photonic – apparently the last release broke some functionality in 500px.com. I am in the process of troubleshooting and I will soon have an update for you. In addition there is some other code in the works for OAuth2 authentication. This will let me add private photo support for Picasa, and will let me define new sources such as Facebook and Instagram.

And the last thing I have been working on is Responsive Design for Suffusion. As you can guess, on a personal front I am a lot more settled at this point of time. So while my professional work takes up a lot of time, I am able to dedicate some time to new code. So what is the status of Responsive Design so far?

What’s Done

  1. I have finished and tested sidebar repositioning features. I have ensured that whatever the layout you will be able to see the sidebars below your content. In true Suffusion-style you will be able to pick what you want to do with the sidebars. E.g. On screen sizes between 650px and 980px you can opt to have your sidebars where they are. From 320px to 650px you can opt to have your sidebars below your content, but you can choose to have the sidebars side by side if you have 2 of them.
  2. I have also put in code to switch the navigation menus to “Select” lists if the screen gets narrow. You get to pick which width the switch occurs.

What’s Being Worked On

  1. I am testing out code for making the featured content responsive.
  2. I am also trying to figure out how to handle the Custom Layout Template and the Magazine Template. Along similar lines what needs to be handled are the horizontal widget areas (“Widget Area Above Header”, “Widget Area Below Header” etc.), which can have multiple widgets in a row.
  3. I have put in some preliminary code to tackle the “pullout” style bylines. On narrow screens the pullout will cease to appear as a pullout and will show up as the more traditional single-line byline display.
  4. Lots of other code is in the works, to handle the multitudinous options of Suffusion.

What May Not be Included

  1. Responsive images – Ideally if you are viewing a site on a low bandwidth connection (typically a mobile) you would want to reduce the size of images. Most themes fake this by setting the max-width for images to 100%. That works fine in appearance, but it defeats the purpose of responsive design because you are essentially downloading the full large image, but you are only scaling it down. Instead there should be a mechanism to control the image size from the server.
  2. Hover effects – Touch devices have a drawback in the sense that you cannot hover over links. While most of them compensate for this by letting a single click function as a hover, the trouble happens when you have a menu item that is both, a link and has a drop-down under it. E.g. See the menu item for “Suffusion” in the menu on this site (Themes → Suffusion). That links to a page and it has child pages under it. On a touch device you would find it hard to click on the child pages, because the click on “Suffusion” will take you to the page for Suffusion. The click on “Themes” works fine, mind you, because that tab doesn’t go anywhere (its URL is “#”). I have to figure out how to handle this behaviour.

The Responsive features are very configurable. You can turn them on or off as you wish, and you can control what type of breakpoints you want to enable. E.g. If you don’t have people visiting your site from a 240px browser, you don’t have to handle that as a breakpoint.

Completion of all of these will take time, particularly since things are really hot on the professional front for me. But I will keep you posted.

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.

Sep 022012
 
Plugin

I released version 1.24 of Photonic a while back. This version has the following changes:

  1. Date filtering support for 500px.com: This is thanks to code contributed by Bart Kuipers. You can add “Date from” and “Date to” fields for your 500px.com photos.
  2. I also removed the JQuery Dimensions script from the plugin – this was causing conflicts with several other JS-based plugins.

I had also gone a far way into building OAuth2 support, which would have enabled private photo support for Picasa. However the recent activities in my personal life badly disrupted the development flow for this. I will try to include that soon into the theme.

Aug 262012
 
Design

Version 4.3.0 of Suffusion was released last evening. This version has one correction – the suffusion.js file had an incorrect selector specified in a particular line, which caused problems for newer versions of JQuery. I have taken care of it.

Aug 212012
 
Design

I pushed through a minor version of Suffusion today. Version 4.2.9 addresses just one issue: the “Edit Post” / “Edit Page” screen was causing CSS conflicts for some plugins that were using JQuery. I have addressed this issue.

I have had a few insanely hectic weeks and I am in the process of getting back my bearings. Please put up with me in the meanwhile – I will get to most issues that have cropped up in this time.

Aug 052012
 
Design

Version 4.2.8 of Suffusion was released on Saturday. This is a minor version with the following updates:

  1. The Previous / Next post buttons were not clickable – only the text for them was clickable. This has been addressed.
  2. The way the CDATA tags were being used to mask the CSS was correct from a standards and compatibility point of view, but minification plugins failed to understand them, causing issues in IE. This has been changed.

Enjoy.

Aug 032012
 
Party!

As I sit alone in a large house with no furniture save a sleeping bag, a couple of suitcases and an internet modem, Suffusion is celebrating its third birthday. These have been 3 long years of toil and happiness, and I have all of you to thank for its success.

During this year Suffusion has crossed several milestones:

  1. Over 800,000 downloads – The default themes TwentyTen and TwentyEleven get the benefit of being bundled with all WP installations, but them apart, the only non-default theme with more downloads than Suffusion is Atahualpa, which has been around for about 2 years more than Suffusion.
  2. A 5-star rating – It is one thing to have one rating of 5 stars. Slight credibility is gained when you have 10 ratings averaging close to 5 stars. But doing it for over 270 ratings is, well, impressive. As things stand, Suffusion is second in the list of all-time number of ratings, and very few in the first page come close to Suffusion’s average rating. Thanks to all of you who have rated Suffusion so highly!
  3. Alexa-verified popularity – In a study done of the top 1 million visited websites in the world, the ones using WP were analyzed. And Suffusion featured very prominently among the top 20 WP themes used on these most popular websites.

During this year I took away some development focus from Suffusion and managed to release a bunch of plugins:

  1. Photonic – A year back I pulled out the planned photo-blogging features of Suffusion and released them as Photonic a few weeks later. By far my favourite plugin, this is an absolutely fantastic way of including photos from Flickr, Picasa, Smugmug and 500px.com on your site. More importantly, I am working on a few enhancements that will let you include from Facebook, Instagram and some other sources too!
  2. FontMeister – This was something I had promised in the second birthday announcement. It is a very simple yet fully functional plugin that lets you include fonts from various sources in your sites. More importantly, this integrates with Suffusion’s font drop-downs too.
  3. Suffusion Commerce Pack – This helps users use popular e-commerce plugins with Suffusion.
  4. Suffusion bbPress Pack – This lets users use bbPress with Suffusion.
  5. Suffusion Custom Post Types – This is more of a basic transitional plugin to help users use custom post types that they have formerly defined in Suffusion with new themes. The whole objective is to not make you feel shackled by Suffusion.

Of course, Suffusion received some nice additions too:

  1. New Skins – I added the “Photonique” and the “Scribbles” skins. The former is ideally suited for a photoblog.
  2. HTML5 Support and Semantic Markup – This was the big addition of the year, obviously, and the only one that could potentially break things. And I am happy to report that the transition was generally smooth, thanks to the extensive testing by Mark van Jaarsveld.
  3. More Framework-like Features – There are some things that you cannot customize via Suffusion’s options panels. For those rare situations I have been steadily adding framework-like features to Suffusion.
  4. Custom Post Types – I have added some good support for Custom Post Types, letting you define their layouts and take advantage of custom taxonomies associated with them.
  5. Custom Layouts & Mega Menus – These are features that are hard to find in commercial themes, and Suffusion gets them to you for free.

As for the future, obviously there is the whole aspect of responsive design. For once I will be coding something I don’t believe in. I have also been promising some interesting sidebar concepts for a while now. With all my work I never got around to delivering those.

To close, I reiterate something I said last year – very few big features will be added, apart from the ones committed. Of course, you will see responsive design. But apart from that you will mostly see new skins and support for new WP features.

Lastly, thanks are in order to all the ardent supporters of the theme:

  1. To Colin and Drake for the awesome job on the support forum
  2. To Mark for extensive testing during the beta releases
  3. To all the fine folks who donate to and / or vote for the theme
  4. To all of you who write to me in person thanking me for a release, or help me out with snippets of code that I can add to my theme or plugins (Bart, Marcel etc.).

If nothing else, Suffusion and my other projects showcase the power of community collaboration.