Jan 282016

Version 4.4.9 is now live. This version has minor bug-fixes:

  1. I have cleaned up some CSS styles that did not conform to standards. This should have no impact on your websites.
  2. There was a bug in the responsive layouts, which prevented pages from displaying at full-width on iPhones 5 and upwards, if your site had a “Navigation Bar Above Header”. This has been corrected.
  3. Another bug in the responsive layouts caused the “Navigation Bar Below Header” to show up as two selection lists when the screen was resized below your defined breakpoints. This shouldn’t happen any more.
Nov 132015

Following my 2-year hiatus and the post last night, I was mentally prepared to go back and forth with the theme review team a few times on the approval of the latest version of Suffusion. Surprisingly, though, version 4.4.8 of Suffusion got approved within a few hours of submission!

Here is the gist of changes:

  1. Removed Features:
    1. Removed inbuilt custom post types functionality (multiple plugins exist in this area).
    2. Removed inbuilt shortcodes – The Suffusion Shortcodes plugin, with the exact same functionality has existed for a while now.
    3. Removed call to deprecated constructor WP_Widget
    4. Removed OpenID support (external plugins exist)
    5. Removed SEO plugin-like features from theme. This is what I alluded to in my previous post.
  2. Added Features:
    1. This is the only true addition: The gallery post format has been improved to consider scenarios that I hadn’t considered earlier. This is, in part, due to the enhancements that WP has made over the years to the gallery shortcode.
    2. A couple of zero-impact additions: I added a required CSS class for accessibility, and theme support for title-tag. This was necessary to get the theme to pass the checks.
  3. Changes and Fixes:
    1. Updated the theme to use latest WP features.
    2. One of the guidelines that was preventing me from changing the theme was how I used to save options (upon activation). So this time I bit the bullet and changed the functionality such that changes are saved only when you explicitly save options.
    3. I sanitized the call to echo($_GET[…]) in the backend.
    4. There was an issue and its fix outlined by Drake here. I put this in the theme.

I did notice some questions on the forums inquiring about script vulnerabilities, so I wanted to spend some time talking about it. The WordPress team takes security and vulnerabilities very seriously, and they have methods to track down themes with security holes. Now, Suffusion itself doesn’t use any third-party PHP scripts. Around 5 years back I had TimThumb, which I replaced with WP’s native resizer. Incidentally, several months after my making the switch, a severe issue was detected in TimThumb, and every theme on the theme repository that used TimThumb was suspended till the author changed it. Suffusion escaped the axe, because I had already taken care of this earlier. Then later, WP found an issue in one of its own functions. So it went after every theme that was using that function on a page facing the public. This was pretty recently, and again, Suffusion escaped the axe.

The point of saying the above is, Suffusion is in a pretty stable state, and the only cases when I have to change the theme are when a vulnerability has been discovered in it (which, touching a lot of wood, hasn’t happened), or if some new WP functionality has broken Suffusion code (which caused me to release version 4.4.7). In either of these cases, I am very quick to respond, since the theme’s massive user-base gets affected if I don’t.

WP also has a policy of removing themes older than 2 years from the search results. This doesn’t mean the theme has vulnerabilities – it only means that the theme has functionality that might not now be compatible with WordPress. You can always still get to the theme directly from WP through the theme’s URL (it is only eliminated from the search results). WP truly removes a theme only if it has security vulnerabilities, violates GPL or copyright laws, or has its developer put in a request to kill the theme.

Hope you have no issues with working the theme!

Nov 132015

It has been a long time since I committed to providing an updated version of Suffusion. But in between losing my licence for the IDE I develop on, and the plethora of things I needed to take care of in the theme, I just wasn’t able to do it enough justice.

Luckily I was able to roll up my sleeves this week and get all the pending things cleared out. I will shortly upload a new version to the WP theme repository. As it has been ages since my last theme update, I am sure the review team will come back with comments about making changes in the theme, so I am not sure how many iterations it is going to take. Regardless, it should now be a matter of days before the next version comes out.

That being said, I would like to call your attention to a comment I had made in my previous post. Quite a few options have to be removed from the theme because they are of a “plugin” sort, and one of them happens to be the set of SEO settings. However, long-time Suffusion user and forum administrator Drake has a way out for you. Do follow his instructions to ensure a seamless move from Suffusion’s SEO options to a plugin of your choice. If you were already using a plugin earlier, this should have no impact on you.

The version that I have submitted removes some features, but is not very high impact – there are no additional features. So the transition should be smooth.

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 032013

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.

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!

Nov 112010

Before I begin about this release, I would first like to apologize to all people whose layouts broke due to the last release. As it turns out I had not tested certain configurations involving the static Tabbed Sidebar, which resulted in all people using this feature having their sites become train-wrecks. Disabling the Tabbed Sidebar would have fixed the issue for all affected people, but there was no way you as a user could have known that.

Anyway, this release is a bug-fix release and there are no new features. Here are the fixes:

  1. Layout bugs
    1. The biggest issue – wonky layouts upon activation of the Tabbed Sidebar – has been fixed. There is one exception – if you are using IE6 (yes, that fossil) and you have the Tabbed Sidebar on and your Tabbed Sidebar is on the left side and you have at least one sidebar on the left site, then your left sidebar will render incorrectly on IE6 (only on IE6). I spent some time trying to figure this out, but gave up because I had to get this release out early and this particular combination has an extremely low probability of occurring. Otherwise I have hopefully resolved all issues on all browsers regarding this mishap.
    2. The Widget Area Below Header was not spanning the full width of the wrapper and was showing a blank space on the side.
    3. The Widget Area Above Footer was overlapping the right sidebar if the sidebar was longer than the content.
    4. The No Sidebars template was showing up with empty space on the side.
    5. In the “Tiles” layout excerpt images were becoming very tiny because the widths were computing incorrectly.
  2. If you had defined more than one WP 3.0 Menu, each menu item was getting repeated multiple times in the navigation bar. This has been fixed too.
  3. There was a bug that was preventing the post footer from appearing in the archive view (front page, category, date archive, tag etc). So if you had Tags or “Posted By” at the bottom of a post, that wasn’t being displayed. This now works.
  4. There was a very old bug where the excerpt title in the “Tiles” layout where the header of excerpts wasn’t reading the alignment setting correctly. Instead it was borrowing the alignment of Magazine excerpts.

One point I would like to highlight – often when you upgrade your theme it apparently breaks your layout, while in truth there is nothing wrong with it. In such cases try out a few very simple things. First and foremost, clean out your browser’s cache and reload your page. Second, if you have a caching plugin make sure that you rebuild its cache, otherwise it will serve content that is not current.

I also thought I should highlight what some known issues are. There are 2, actually, both of which are JavaScript-related:

  1. At some point in the last 3 releases the Google Translator widget stopped working. I have no idea why, since I haven’t changed anything there. If you were looking for this feature to work I encourage you to look for some free plugin to help you there.
  2. At some point in the last few months the Fade / delay effect on the navigation menu stopped working. Again, I have no idea why. Since this is a very low impact issue I didn’t spend an excruciating amount of time trying to resolve this.

Another aspect I wanted to highlight was regarding my comment in my previous post, about “Rolled up menus”. A few users had difficulty understanding the concept, so I thought I will explain it here. To create a new dummy node:

  1. Go to Appearance → Menus and open up your menu.
  2. Create a new menu item using a Custom Link.
    1. For the URL specify #. Make sure you delete the “http://” that sits there by default
    2. For the Label put in whatever you want to name your root node.
    3. Add to Menu
  3. Once added, move this item to the top of the list.
  4. Now, indent every other item under this top item. This way each other node is a child of your newly created root. Remember to indent – this is important.
  5. That’s it. Since you have set the URL to be “#” Suffusion knows that it shouldn’t open any page for it. All other items are listed as children of this new node.

That’s it for this release. I am hoping this will smooth over the rough edges of 3.6.8. I will keep subsequent releases smaller in scope, though, quite frankly I don’t foresee anything being so large in scope.

Over the next few weeks I will focus on building a proper plugin for Suffusion and BP compatibility, assuming that the support queue for 3.6.9 isn’t huge.

Nov 072010

After slogging very hard the last 3 weeks I managed to get all the changes I was hoping to include in place for version 3.6.7 last night. Making use of the illusion of an extra hour from daylight savings I went ahead and tried to submit the theme to WordPress.

But as I tried to submit it I hit a snag. I kept getting a message that said:

Error 413: Request Entity Too Large

No matter what I tried and from which browser and machine, the error did not change. It is highly likely that the WP servers had a configuration change in the back-end. I did post out a message to the theme reviewers asking them as to why this is happening. After all the file is just marginally larger than the previous versions and I have never had this problem earlier. Let’s see what they say.

As I mentioned earlier, the primary features of this release were a reworking of the navigation bar code, a fundamental change to the HTML markup and a set of options for fluid/flexible width. In addition there have been a number of BuddyPress-related style changes. I will release a new version of the Suffusion BuddyPress Pack when this version of Suffusion gets approved.

I will post a detailed change log once the theme is approved.

Oct 112010

This is the longest I have gone between releases of Suffusion and unfortunately the current release is significantly more complex than the previous ones, hence version 3.6.7 is still a few weeks away from release.

A general fact of any software development cycle is that the more complex the software the longer the development cycle. As things stand today Suffusion is quite complex under the hood. As a result when I try to make a foundational change to the theme, it is a very very arduous exercise. Such changes were much easier to make when the theme was simpler. That is the difference between foundational changes and add-on changes: add-on changes are still easy to do given the theme’s modular structuring, which is why I can add new sidebars etc without breaking a sweat (actually adding sidebars is not that easy, but it still is much easier than what I am doing right now). There are two major changes I am working on at present:

  1. A revamped approach to navigation menus – I was never happy with the way WP handled its functions wp_list_pages etc. I felt that their concepts of “include” and “exclude” were slightly messy and I tried to build a fool-proof system for building menus myself. The net result:
    1. I was successful because I achieved what I had set out to do. Including and excluding items worked as advertised.
    2. I ended up introducing some rather undesirable inefficiencies in the code. The menu-bar code worked well, but to work the way I had envisioned it required to do a lot more queries in the back-end system. For users who had a large number of pages etc, the menus generated at least 100 extra database queries.
    3. Some plugins refused to cooperate with the menu code.
    4. Some features like highlighting the correct page etc were notoriously hard to implement.

    So in this release I decided to fall back on WP’s standard functions instead of my enhanced ones. The result is that menus will not work the way I think they should (which shouldn’t really concern you – I am but one individual), but they will work the way WP thinks they should.
    The change is complex because it required me to change all my menu code, test for pages, categories, links and WP 3.0 menus, fix all style-related problems and what not. Luckily though, this is a piece that I have finished implementing.

  2. An option for fluid width – This is a more cataclysmic change. It involves revamping the entire HTML markup and a humongous amount of implementation and testing. This piece is taking a lot of time to finish implementing, let alone get into full-blown testing.

Adding to the implementation complexity are some major changes on the personal front for me, like an upcoming move from the US to Canada and you can see why this release has been taking time.

The light at the end of the tunnel, though, is that once this release is done, you can do pretty much anything with the theme layout. At that point I can focus on the funky features I had promised in the birthday post of Suffusion.