Suffusion Version 4.4.3, WordPress 3.5

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!

31 Responses to “Suffusion Version 4.4.3, WordPress 3.5”

  1. Sayontan,

    I am with you here, #1 is a stupid requirement of the theme review team. They obviously couldn’t care about existing users of a theme having to modify their sites just to accommodate a whim of theirs.

    I do hope that you don’t give up development BUT I do understand if you do.


    • Colin,
      Thanks for your continued support. I haven’t made a decision yet about stopping development. But I do believe that even if I stop development, two things will happen:

      1. The theme will continue getting updates to make it standards compliant and to be bug-free
      2. Fancy items will be moved to plugins. As you might recall, what is now the full-blown Photonic plugin was originally intended to be a part of 3.7.9. So hopefully I will be able to contribute via an avenue where I am not made to pull good code from my projects because of a review team’s decisions.
  2. Sayontan,

    I hope that you will continue to develop and support Suffusion, not for reviewers but for us… thousands and thousands of users which really love the theme. If you ask me, WP developers could renounce to use Twenty X as default theme and bundle Suffusion in WP distributions – only then WP will be a complete tool for developing sites 🙂

    Thank You,

    • Ciprian,
      Thanks for your support. As mentioned to Colin, if I stop active development on the theme, I will still continue with bug-fixes and release the more complex pieces as plugins.

      BTW, I do like the Twenty-X themes, because they often give the code required to implement core WP features.


  3. It would be a sad day if Suffusion suffers (or already has suffered) in any way as a result of the reasons you mentioned in this post.
    I hope you do continue to support and develop.

    • Reza,
      Thanks for your support. The thing is, Suffusion has reached a point from where I don’t know where to take it – it is at a very stable point. Even if I happen to stop development though, I will continue to fix bugs and adjust for new WP versions. And I will continue to support it as long as the theme has users.

  4. I sympathize with you completely. I’ve been using Suffusion for over 2 years and I’m in love with it but I would completely understand if it became too much of a chore and a lot of your work was undone by little people looking to feel good about their little positions of power.
    Not being a developer I don’t know what the hell I’m saying, but I wonder if you couldn’t adopt a version of WP that you like, make it your own and continue to develop Suffusion for it, then keep it available for download on this site.

    • Eli,
      Thanks for your support.

      Even if I were to stop developing Suffusion completely, I can continue work via plugins. But regardless, every new version of WP will definitely see the compatibility introduced in Suffusion, and bugs will be continuously fixed. It is just that new features might no longer come with the theme.

  5. Hi Sayontan,

    Your frustration is understandable. Please continue to develop and make it downloadable, because suffusion theme is for me the most adjustable theme for non-developers. Thanks for your work!

  6. I love Suffusion and would hate to see it get sidetracked. What I have noticed is that, with the increasing popularity of WordPress, the average technical skill level of the web site owners continues to go down. Automattic is just responding for their requests for prettier websites, since that is what draws them in.

    • Carlos, if those folks actually cared about prettier web sites, they’d have dumped 21010/11 long ago. Atrocious, square, tombstoned themes that no one wants — which is why there are so many alternatives out there trying to replace the blight. Now Suffusion, that’s a thing of beauty.

  7. Sayontan,
    Although losing my favorite theme will be frustrating I would totally agree with your decision to quit development on it. If a hobby isn’t fun anymore, heck, it becomes annoying, you shouldn’t do it anymore. Maybe the WP guys and gals will learn a lesson if they lose the valuable resource that your theme is.

  8. Oh please, please, please, please do not quit Suffusion. It is hands down the best theme out there! I know I am one of many who would be crushed to see you stop developing this awesome theme.

  9. Sayontan, if dealing with the WP clique is bringing you down, then to hell with them.

    Real hubris is shown by a cabal that is utterly unconcerned about breaking tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of web sites over a triviality. The suffusion columns shortcode is an example. If its forced out of the theme without at least a version number’s warning by core, it is absolutely predictable that a lot of sites are going to be messed up. The warning has to come from WordPress in its core releases, saying “We are going to blow up your web site in release 5.0 if you currently use themes that do x, z or y.” The reason it has to be a WP warning is that they are the ones with the dynamite and there are a lot more themes out there that use shortcodes besides Suffusion.

    That aside, there’s no rule that you *must* code to their idiotsyncracies. Being in the repository just makes for some reassurance for new folks. But with nearly a million downloads, I don’t think there’s any concern about Suffusion being a shady bit of coding .

    So pick your crossroads moment, choose to code around or through them, and pull it from the repo. You certainly know there are a *lot* of themes developed outside the WP review system, many purely commercial like ET, and none that hold a candle to the stature of your work.

    But abandon Suffusion? Good gods man, don’t even whisper such things.

    I’ve thought I detected a level of envy or fear toward Suffusion from the official clique for a while now. Some seem to go out of their way to minimize it and they’ve even invented a way to have the Theme Repository home page completely misguide new users about the most popular theme. This week they show Responsive, which of course has about 41% of the downloads Suffusion has. I guess they mean “most popular this week?” or this month? or what? They don’t say. Which is another great disservice to new users who rightly want a theme that has the strongest user base possible for all the obvious reasons.

    And I do read threads that pop up in the WP forums from time to time. It just seems some of these people have some sort of anxiety that Suffusion is having too big an impact on the real future of WordPress, not through the internal politics, but directly through the code the end users want.

    So screw ’em.

    All you get from being in the repository is a bit of advertising, and they seem to want to minimize that anyway. I’m going to be getting some of my old sites up again that deal with web site related things and I’ll be sure to include a thorough job of promoting Suffusion. Hopefully a few thousand other Suffusion admins can do the same and the result would be better than what you get from now.

    I guess the only issue will be if they start hard coding the core to break if developers don’t buy into the centralist illusions. A bridge to cross if it’s found.

    I am but one of so very many who greatly admire your achievement with Suffusion, and who are genuinely grateful for your work. That may not be worth much when the mud’s coming in the window, but hopefully it is enough to buoy you through any thoughts of closing shop.

    And also remember Sayontan, not all of your legion of users expect you to be constantly inventing new toys for us. It wasn’t all that long ago you had thought you were going to defer any additional development indefinitely and just focus on maintenance, squashing an occasional bug if one popped up its head and maintaining compatibility with new core releases (compatibility, not social unity). And why not?

    For example, how this whole “responsive” thing got going is beyond me. As far as practical reality goes, it’s a lot of heavy lifting for little gain. My little blackberry shows up Suffusion and other “non-responsive” pages fine. I want to see bigger, I spread my fingers. It’s the device that is responsive, not the site. But you chose to be humanly responsive and answer requests from some set of your users. That’s cool so long as you don’t somehow feel you *have* to respond.

    So take a break. Put the bugaboos out of your mind and enjoy the feeling of success you have so richly earned. But don’t talk about giving up on what would be for anyone else, a good career’s worth of work.

    • Glenn makes so many excellent points — please listen to his well thought out and enunciated words!

      I’m not one of those people with an important website, and I’m not one of those people who need constant updates — but I do need Suffusion! It’s the best theme that’s out there (no offense to your other themes) and it’s the one I’ve been using for years and years.
      Please don’t take it away!

      I’m pretty ignorant on the whole theme submission & update process that WP makes developers & designers go through but could you still do it on your own?
      Surely people would still find your site (plus off of other people’s sites who use it?)

    • Glenn,
      Thanks for the heartfelt vote of confidence and support!

      The thing is that in a masochistic way I need the repository for Suffusion to survive. For a period of over 18 months Suffusion happened to be a featured theme thanks to its versatility. Only in the latest refresh it was cut out. During those 18 months the theme gained a lot in popularity and thanks to a lot of the policing put in place by the WPTRT it got coded quite well (most of their rules until a few months back made a lot of sense). This in fact served as advertising for the theme, often flooding me with more support requests than I could handle. Pulling the theme from the repository can have an adverse effect. For example, in a recent communication a user told me that her previous theme (Arras) was no longer an approved theme, so she was switching to Suffusion. A bit harsh, I thought, since the developer of Arras pulled his theme out voluntarily after being unable to keep up with WP and WPTRT changes.

      Regardless, I believe I can gradually wind down Suffusion development, only releasing updates to fix bugs and to support new WP versions, while pushing features out to plugins. At least there is no plugin review team that tells me what features I cannot put in my code, and as of today Photonic is my hot project.

      Regarding the “responsive” thing, I continue to believe it is a fad in its current state. That is the reason I haven’t activated it on this site. But I can see why people want it, hence it is there as a feature.

      If you have ever been on Orkut and seen my profile there, you will notice that one of my stated hobbies is “Memorizing Cricket statistics” :-). I am good with numbers, so I can enunciate for you how the theme popularity works. If you go to the stats page for any theme ( you will see a figure, “Last week”, which is the total number of downloads for a rolling 7-day period. This number is different from the number that you see on the front page ( That number resets at the end of every Saturday (GMT), and reflects the total number of downloads up to two Saturdays back. E.g. Suffusion’s count on the front page today is 6000+, which essentially is the cumulative from 1st December (two Saturdays back). A lot of themes bolster their download count by repeated releases. Some themes like Responsive get new updates every 2 days, and themes made by CyberChimps (iFeature, Eclipse etc) get updated every 4-5 days, which explains how they stay in the top 15 all the time.

  10. Dear Sayontan,

    Suffusion is definitely one of the best or maybe even the best free theme around. Before i started my blogs i actually looked at almost the whole repository (i think there were some 600 themes back then), and i did trial installs of somewhere between 50-100. Suffusion came out clearly on TOP.

    I absolutely agree with all the people who hope that you will go on, but it has to be fun for you.

    I always admired how you – besides having a high-workload full-time job and a family – go on working on Suffusion, reply to forum questions etc, and all of us get that for free.

    So what i see is an unusually dedicated person, and if WordPress manages to annoy such a person so much that you want to stop taking care of your baby Suffusion, that has been – so to speak – “adopted” by millions of websites around the world, than WordPress is definitely doing something wrong.

    Don´t let them wreck your fun and whatever your decision will be, i want to say thank you for helping me to easily run my blogs with such a high quality theme.

    Kind regards, Viktor

    P.S: i have already rated Suffusion long ago, will no also write a review and mention these points. Is there a forum on wordpress that would be the right place to make WordPress aware of thenonsense they are doing?

  11. Hi Sayontan.
    I discovered Suffusion a few days ago and I have to say I inmediatelly felt in love…
    I’ve been a few days setting up all the options, and is incredible what can you do with it. Congratulations and thanks for your job.

    I installed Suffu-scion too, to change the language. I write for Spanish readers.
    Well everything worked fine since I upgrade Suffusion to 4.4.3
    Now Suffu-scion is not working anymore.
    When activated, I only can see on my blog a white screen.

    Please can you help me? Does anybody have the same problem?

    Thank you very much, and please keep going on with it!!!

  12. Hi everyone,

    One thing you can do if you want to support Suffusion… is to support Suffusion. Send Sayontan some coffee money. Or fruit-punch money. Or whatever will put a smile on his face and make him realise that a couple of WordPress munters don’t represent the huge community of Suffusion fans 🙂

    Glenn may well be right, Sayontan- without being a theme dev myself, I’d say that if the only thing that WP offers you is a place for people to find your theme, then you’ll do better forgetting about them.

    I’d put my time into creating an ‘I love Suffusion’ button that links to your Suffusion download page- I for one would happily put such a button on my site. Sure you’d get a lot of other folk in the same position (yes, I know there’s a link at the footer, but this would be a declaration!).


  13. Hi, I’m one of the WordPress lead developers and I led the development of WordPress 3.5.

    At this point, there won’t be any more changes to 3.5. But I can certainly help hear some of your issues, and I would be happy to consider them for future releases.

    If you’re going to knock us on style versus substance, it’d be best to lead with substantive argument. My time spent on larger theme screenshots was to request that the theme guideline change from 300x225px to 600x450px. So, about five minutes. There was no change — none — that needed to occur in core to support this, so I’m not sure it even counts as one of more than 900 bug fixes and enhancements that will ship in 3.5. I just don’t think this is a fair view of our priorities.

    Personally, I’m also not sure about the proposed guidelines on shortcodes or settings. I think the settings API should remain recommended until it is easier to use. (I don’t like it any more than you do.) At the same time, it isn’t users drinking kerosene, it’s theme developers. And ultimately, the time it takes to convert a settings page to use the API isn’t more than an hour.

    With regards to shortcodes, clearly, there would need to be a grandfathering rule for existing shortcodes. But I’d like to see this first become a “recommended” rule, for now. I don’t think that’s unreasonable, and it allows for some time to more thought to go into this, as well as the potential for something like this to be implemented in core. I appreciate that you weighed in on the thread.

    Nothing has been finalized yet. It’s fairly clear that some of those guidelines were floated to see what kind of reaction there would be. Having these kinds of discussions are important. There will always be disagreement, and it’s often healthy. I know you think that your opinions don’t count, but that’s clearly not the case. For example, I’ve read both the thread and your post here, and its had an influence on my thinking.

    • I must have struck a nerve if I have Nacin responding here! Thanks for taking the time to respond!

      If you’re going to knock us on style versus substance, it’d be best to lead with substantive argument.

      It is my belief that WP is popular because of the huge community of plugin and theme developers who write millions of lines of code above the core. If you were to go to them asking how excited they were about the new features of 3.4 or 3.5, I doubt you would get much of a response. Of course, this is more subjective than substantive, but the best way I can help explain this to you is by taking a look at the release notes that you publish: 3.5 beta 1, 3.4, 3.3 and 3.2. It does seem like progressively there seems to be less and less to write about. E.g. I cannot think of an elevator pitch for 3.5, while 3.4 had the theme customizer (that I didn’t find very useful, but I am sure many others did), and live previews, 3.3 had some great API enhancements, 3.1 had custom post format support, and 3.0 had navigation menus and custom post types.

      More to the point of patches not getting triaged, I will point merely to one: You have had patches for this sitting around for 2 years (I myself contributed one about 10 months back). Here is your comment, deferring this indefinitely:

      Since this is part of a walker, those doing big customizations can replace it. We should probably solve issues like nav-menus.php saving quite a bit of data before we open this up too much. Per IRC scrub.

      This is a bug that prevents users from using 2 plugins that try to tweak the menu admin UI. The fix is barely a couple of lines of code, which to test takes no time. Sorry, but I don’t see how “those doing big customizations can replace it” is a viable solution when two plugins attempting to do the small customizations cannot co-exist.

      And ultimately, the time it takes to convert a settings page to use the API isn’t more than an hour.

      Something that takes 10 pages of tutorials (I refer to Chip’s post) would be a miracle to set up in an hour. And I speak from experience – my theme’s back-end is more complex than the tutorial states. Here is a little exercise: try converting the PageLines theme’s back-end to a full-blown Settings API usage in an hour, complete with calls to add_settings_section and do_settings_sections. The way most themes with complex back-ends “implement” the Settings API is by just adding the handful of calls to register settings, so that they can be compliant with the review team’s recommendation. The proposed change, if it goes through, will have developers screaming for exceptions for their themes.

      At the same time, it isn’t users drinking kerosene, it’s theme developers.

      A user is a person using a product. Your API is being used by a developer, hence the developer is the user. Hence the kerosene is being drunk by the user.

      You have to realize something here – at least 2 other developers stopped contributing their themes to extend a while back. “DigitalNature”, who was the author of Mystique and Arclite (two formerly featured themes), got into an argument with the WPTRT about his framework Atom, and finally ended up distributing that through his website. He made just one other update to Mystique in the months since then. Another developer “Zyml” pulled his theme Arras from the repository because he was unable to dedicate time to keep up with the requirements (albeit without acrimony). These were high profile users with very high profile themes. Automattic and the WP core team keeps trying to promote themes on extend over several commercially available themes, yet it tries to pose tons of restrictions on what a theme can do.

      • I don’t know if “struck a nerve” is right, but one of your users emailed me asking me to weigh in, so I did.

        Elevator pitch for 3.5? I guess you haven’t looked at it yet. The media manager was rewritten from scratch. Most users (and those who have reviewed it) are calling this the most exciting release since 3.0. We took one of our worst user interfaces and made it our best.

        I’ve commented to literally ten thousand tickets over the years. Certainly sometimes I don’t have a fully justified or defensible reason for an action. But #14414 was absolutely the right call. The issue here is that nav-menus.php was sending back so much data and taking so long to save that the last thing we wanted to do was to expose an easy hook when there was already a workaround. Two tickets in play: #22189 (saving is slow), #14134 (sending back too much data). The nice thing is, #22189 was fixed in 3.5, which means I’d be happy to revisit #14414 in 3.6.

        No, users are not developers. And we develop for users. Many other pieces of open source software make this mistake. We do not. We have a fantastic community of developers, but we cannot forget that the central goal is to democratize publishing for everyone. We have a community of tens of millions; few of them are developers.

        You almost had me in your final paragraph, until your final line. Automattic has no — zero — control over the direction of the theme directory, and suggesting otherwise is laughable at best. The theme reviewers (all volunteers) have earned their wide latitude to make decisions that benefit users. If you disagree, you are allowed — encouraged even — to do so respectfully. (I do all the time.)

        • Most users (and those who have reviewed it) are calling this the most exciting release since 3.0.

          And a lot of people did say that Vista was Microsoft’s best release ever. Look, it is your baby, so you like to think well of it. But your elevator pitch sounds to me much like Jobs’ announcement of the video camera and speaker in the fifth generation iPod Nano in September 2009 with his “One more thing” prelude – distinctly underwhelming. And yes, I have worked with the Media Manager.

          No, users are not developers. And we develop for users. Many other pieces of open source software make this mistake. We do not. We have a fantastic community of developers, but we cannot forget that the central goal is to democratize publishing for everyone.

          So I guess you need a bumper sticker that states: “WordPress: Coded for Users. Developers, we’re not really here for you”. And stop making patronizing statements on your release announcements stating “Developers: We love you”.

          On a related note, while you claim that you code for users, and while Automattic and the core developers (Are they the same? I don’t know) claim that WP is a CMS, a developer who developed WP CMS sites for users discusses WP’s shortcomings in the CMS spaceand gets castigated. I am probably missing the link somewhere, because if you were really coding a CMS for users, you should be coding a CMS for users, not pointing them to various plugins to make WP a CMS.

          We have a community of tens of millions; few of them are developers.

          You definitely know this better than me – one of the the biggest reasons an average person likes WP is because of the huge number of themes and plugins available. Your APIs are not used by an end user – they are used by the developers catering to your end users while developing these add-ons. So while you keep splitting hairs over semantics, the truth remains that someone is drinking the kerosene. For you it is a developer, for me it is a user of your API – the same person, but addressed differently. Can we agree to this and move on?

          Automattic has no — zero — control over the direction of the theme directory, and suggesting otherwise is laughable at best.

          It was a grammatical error on my part – sorry. My statement was meant to say:

          Automattic and the WP core team keeps trying to promote themes on extend over several commercially available themes, yet it the WPTRT tries to pose tons of restrictions on what a theme can do.

          I had mentioned WPTRT earlier in the paragraph, hence I didn’t realize that the original statement could be misinterpreted. If you go through my posts here and on my support forum, you will realize that I always draw a distinction between the “review team” (i.e. WPTRT) and “WP” (i.e. Automattic / core developers).

          But since you bring up the point of being laughable, take a look at any heated discussion thread on the WPTRT. The word of the core team is treated as gospel and is often used to shut up a dissenting voice. Since you like examples, here is one: Bear in mind that I don’t necessarily agree with the dissenting voice there, but the fact is people like you commenting on a thread is seen as putting the final seal of approval on a discussion (what I posted was just one email from a long and acrimonious thread). Also look at any post on the theme reviewers’ site – comments from Automattic employees, the core team and the reviewers are generally met with nods of assent, while those from developers are in general shot down. So while I didn’t mean to imply that Automattic makes the decisions for WPTRT, claiming that they don’t have a strong (often deciding) input to those decisions is laughable and a flat-out lie.

          If you disagree, you are allowed — encouraged even — to do so respectfully. (I do all the time.)

          I don’t know if this is intended to be a dig at me, because I doubt I have not shown respect. The site is the WPTRT’s sandbox, and I let them play and make rules there – you will not see any disparaging remark there. This is my site, and while I am allowed to state what I want here, I try to confine myself to the bounds of propriety. Bear in mind that respect is a two-way street. If I am forced to do what I believe is detrimental to my users, I will state the same in no uncertain terms. For all your talk of coding for users, it is still I who has to deal with angry users during the support nightmare that accompanies certain whimsical decisions of the WPTRT. I am not implying that all decisions of the WPTRT are whimsical, since most of them have the end user’s best interests in mind. E.g. I embraced the decision to exclude TimThumb long before the much publicized hack came to light, and I built a dynamic resizer based on WP’s native code for this.

          You probably don’t know about me, so let me tell you this: I have zero skin in this game. To me WP is a hobby. It is something I picked up during evenings of my weekly coast to coast travels a few years back. Since then I released a theme, some plugins based on the theme and some very distinct plugins all with these traits:

          1. Free – as in free speech and free beer
          2. No premium versions – all my code is full-featured (and as users will tell you, more feature-rich and stable than several commercial plugins and themes)
          3. No charge for support
          4. Of all software I release on, only 2 of them have any donation links and even those were put in at the request of users

          In other words, WP doesn’t put food on the table. It is merely an amusement in addition to my intense day job and my family. But it has become an amusement that I have gotten attached to. The fact that I have gone as long as I did with a review team coming up with new restrictions every few months is probably a testament to my love of open source, my commitment to the users and to their support of me. For the most part I have been taking the review team’s recommendations as challenges worthy of pursuing. I have even written very highly of them in the past. This time the guidelines I have listed are ridiculous.

          If I pull the plug on development and add my name to the list of folks pulling their themes from the repository, shame on the WP ecosystem for failing to support people who make it popular. Mystique, Arras and Suffusion are all very popular according to studies, and without trumpeting my own horn I would like to think they showcase what can be achieved in the world of free WP themes. I don’t intend this to be a threat and I will not act on it because of three reasons. Firstly, I know based on your statement above that you “code for users”, so losing a developer here or there doesn’t make a difference, and hence it leaves me in no position to make a threat. Secondly, I am reliant on the repository for hosting my code and for getting a “seal of approval” (though I am beginning to question the value of such a seal). Thirdly, I have my community to help out, so I cannot kill the theme.

  14. I have read all the comments above and did not want to publish my comment until things had settled down a bit. I understand both of you, in one way you are both doing what you feel needs to be implemented for the end user. Both of you in many ways are focusing your energies in the end result, to make users happy. That is very admirable and I respect it very much especially when it is all done out of your generosity, your time and for FREE.

    I just want to say that I love Suffusion and I love WordPress. One cannot exist without the other for me at least, for example if I want to use Suffusion I need WordPress and if I am going to use WordPress I want to use Suffusion theme. So as you can see I need both. Yes there are many themes out there and some are great but I started using Suffusion about 8 months ago and never looked back. Most of my clients are happy for me to use this great Theme.

    There comes a time in ones life that one finds something that really makes them happy. I have found the best of both worlds, WordPress CMS and Suffusion Theme.

    I am not a developer of such but I do my best to understand just about everything that comes to my presence when it comes to developing. If I don’t understand something I simply go to forums and or the magic words I Google it 😉 What I am trying to say is that I cannot really comment on your comments above since I am not a developer. I simply use your great tools, if I may use the word tools with all respect and that is what allows me to produce the websites for my clients running on a great platform like WordPress CMS using a great theme like Suffusion.

    I do my best to support both of you through tutorials that I publish on my website or helping out in forums.

    I am not much for words but I just wanted to say Thank you Thank you for what you Sayontan have given us with your great Theme Suffusion. I will endeavour to support you as much as I can in what ever means possible.

    Kind and warm regards always


  15. Sayontan,
    As I’ve said before, I LOVE Suffusion and really admire its high quality.
    I wish I had read this thread before hitting “Update” topday and moving to wordpress 3.5 because that is the point when, for the first time, I had so many error messages I have no idea what is going on! [on IE, no longer displays as intended and, behind the scenes, I’ve lost “count per day” functionality].
    As a complete non-coder, I just wish I’d read your reservations first!
    I’m praying that someone can help me find me a simple solution, but regardless, I still think your work on Suffusion is fantastic.

    • Hi Tony Burton, I had a look at your website in IE 9 and I cannot find any issues. Can you clarify it further what the issues is and what version of IE are you running? Also perhaps it is a plugin that is conflicting with Suffusion or WordPress 3.5 if you have upgraded.

      Kind regards

  16. […] 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 […]

  17. I have used Suffusion for a few years now, great theme, i used to help out a little on the support forum but truth be told i haven’t even updated my own website in over a year, as Sayontan says, when the fun goes out of something you move on and the fun went out of what i was doing on my website, it may return in the future though and then i’ll work on it again.

    What i find strange is the 1 star reviews, i think there are 11 at WordPress.Org, i tend to think these are rivals who are jealous of the Suffusion theme, those 1 star and 2 star reviews make no sense to me as no other theme has the features of Suffusion, i originally checked out hundreds of themes before picking Suffusion.

    If there is one area that might be worked on then it would be in adding a few more attractive skins, that is what i would like to see, other than that its a very complete WordPress theme and the best there is, at some point i must write praise for it on my own website.

    • Mal,
      Long time!

      You are right about the ratings – 5 of those 1-star ratings all came on one single day in October, and a sixth was added a day later. So yes, somebody felt that the theme was getting too popular and took it upon himself/herself to vote it down. Thankfully the honest votes win out.


  18. Sayontan, there has been alot of comment on this post regarding limitations placed on developers by WP as well as various other commentary regarding WordPress as an organization. For awhile now I’ve felt that there has been a shift over the past year or two where WP has moved from a community of passionate developers and users to one of opportunists. WP (Automattic?) as an organization has undergone significant change recently with a bigger focus on profitability; whilst I have no problem with this, it is very evident that the culture of WordPress and the surrounding community is also changing rapidly but, I feel, likely for the worse.
    The first alarm bells started for me when I saw the results of the 2011 developer survey. The conclusions reached ( were, in my opinion, often very distorted/wrong. Conclusions are only as good as the data attained and analysis methodology used and I question the validity of many of the conclusions.
    I do believe that there are significant issues when developers such as you (and others such as Joost de Valk; ‘the developers at Automattic seem to think they’re alone in the world’ ( start to have concerns with WordPress coding and/or processes.
    In many ways it seems as if WordPress themselves are out of touch with how WordPress is actually being used or contributed to.
    Let’s hope this is an unfortunate passing phase within the WordPress organization.

    • I have had problems with JetPack too, and I am a much smaller guy than Joost – at least WP is not what is putting food on my table 🙂

      Honestly I am fine with whatever direction WP core development takes. It is their product, so they get to decide where they will take it. Moreover most if not all changes in WP have been beneficial to the users. My main gripe is with what they force their developers to do. E.g. In the big fight of WP vs. Thesis, I was perfectly okay with WP’s stance that themes have to be GPL. But what really stuck out like a sore thumb was Matt’s claiming that the split license of Thesis (PHP is licensed under GPL and CSS, JS and images are not) was not good enough. He made statements like “What good is it if only the PHP is GPL? The theme cannot work without the CSS etc”. That kind of statement was purely ideological hooey with no legal or logical merit.

      Ever since, I have been questioning a lot of the decisions that WP takes “for the benefit of the community”, and they tend to make no sense whatsoever. E.g. Themes and plugins must be fully GPL, and that includes images distributed with them. The FSF states that the GPL applies to PHP only, and IMO it is perfectly legal to distribute CC-BY-SA licensed images with GPL code. But WP’s repository rules are that everything should be GPL. Again, as I said, it is their space, so they get to dictate what goes on it, but what is alarming is that they don’t even consider such alternatives.

      And I won’t go into the whole theme vs. plugin functionality question. If themes with very few options were what everyone preferred, they would have a tough time explaining the popularity of many commercial as well as paid themes.

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