Jul 092018
 

Dear Users of Photonic,
I know that many of you have, in the past, rated Photonic well on WordPress.org. However, sometime in late 2016 / early 2017 WordPress deleted all ratings without reviews, causing Photonic to lose out on a large number of good ratings.

As you are aware, all my WordPress work has been free and I have always been emphatic about not doing paid work for WordPress. This was true of Suffusion and this has been true of Photonic. And this is what makes Photonic an outstanding product. It is not that Photonic is the best in class in a single area for photo blogging – it is literally the best in class for almost every area that it touches! Some examples are:

  • Outstanding coverage for multiple photo services:
    • Flickr: There is no other WP plugin, paid or free that supports Flickr collections or authentication. Photonic supports photostreams, groups, photosets / albums, galleries, collections and authentication.
    • Picasa: There is no other WP plugin, paid or free that pulls photos and albums from Picasa. There used to be a couple that worked for Picasa prior to Google’s API shift in 2016, but no more. And Photonic nicely fills that gap.
    • SmugMug: There is no other WP plugin, paid or free that pulls photos, albums and folders from SmugMug. There are a couple of very old plugins that do static pulls of photos, but nothing that pulls dynamically. Photonic does this very, very well.
    • Zenfolio: There is no other WP plugin, paid or free that pulls photos, photosets and groups from Zenfolio. There is one very old plugin that hasn’t been maintained for over 3 years, and that provides rudimentary support for photosets.
    • 500px: Prior to the API shutdown, Photonic was the only plugin that integrated with 500px. And the integration was as extensive as everything else Photonic.
    • Instagram: In this case there are a few plugins that do things as well as Photonic, so I will not claim to be the best here.
    • Native WP Galleries: The closest competition to Photonic here is from JetPack, and it is a no-contest. JetPack’s tiled gallery layout was its USP, until Photonic did it much better and in a nice, responsive manner. Not to mention that all of the lightboxes of Photonic are available for native WP galleries

    Essentially there is no other plugin that beats Photonic for any of the individual services above, and Photonic manages to be the best in pretty much all of them.

  • Layouts: Most gallery plugins give you a basic “square” thumbnail layout. Anything more and you have to pay. Now let’s see what Photonic gives you. For free. For all photo services.
    • Square / Circular thumbnails: This is really basic and everyone offers this.
    • Justified Grid: Plugins offer this layout for standard WP galleries, or as a paid add-on for custom WP galleries. Photonic includes this as a basic functionality for every photo service.
    • Masonry: Plugins offer this layout for standard WP galleries, or as a paid add-on for custom WP galleries. As usual, Photonic gives this for free for every photo service.
    • Mosaic: JetPack does this, but all its calculations happen in the back-end in PHP, and only for images in users’ media libraries. Other plugins try, often for a price, but don’t get very far with this. Photonic does a beautiful job with this, in a nice responsive manner for the front-end, for every type of gallery.
  • Lightboxes: Photonic simply annihilates the competition here. Its support for 11 lightboxes (and counting) is way higher than that of any free plugin, and many of these lightboxes are supported with a hefty price-tag by others. More importantly, Photonic goes out of the way to support these for every lightbox (even very old ones not designed with such features in mind):
    • Touch / gesture capability: Have you ever been able to use Colorbox with swipe gestures? Not unless you have used Photonic.
    • Direct invocation of lightboxes without showing all thumbnails: Most lightbox scripts force you to show all thumbnails in a gallery before you can launch them. This is particularly painful if you have to show multiple albums without clutter. Photonic takes the sting out of this and lets you show images within albums directly for every type of lightbox.
    • Integration with photo services: Every lightbox in Photonic place nicely with all the external photo service providers.
    • Deep-linking and Social Sharing: Very few scripts come with deep-linking or social sharing capabilities. In most cases the lightbox scripts charge a price for such capabilities. But with Photonic pretty much everything comes with these premium features.
    • HTML5 video support: Most lightboxes just stop after supporting YouTube and Vimeo videos. Not Photonic though, which supports every conceivable type of video link.

I do realize that the above reads like an advertisement for Photonic, but this is pretty much the only forum where I publicize Photonic.

This is a request for you to kindly drop in a few words of encouragement on Photonic’s review page. It will keep me motivated for future releases and help retain Photonic as the crown jewel of gallery plugins in WP.

Regards,
Sayontan.

May 282018
 

I recently received a question about GDPR compliance for Suffusion on the WordPress forum, posted on the support forum for Photonic – not the right place to post. But there is no support forum page for Suffusion on the WordPress support forums, plus I don’t monitor the forums here since I gave up working on Suffusion a few years back, so I am posting this here as a public service announcement.

Suffusion is fully GDPR compliant. To wit:

  1. Any information you enter and save in the back-end options stays there and is not sent outside your WordPress environment. Suffusion doesn’t send any data outside your website.
  2. There is no tracking of any sort built into Suffusion. Any references to “Analytics” in Suffusion (Appearance → Suffusion Options → Back-end → Analytics) refers to your ability to include tracking scripts into the footer of your website. Suffusion itself provides no analytics capabilities – that is strictly plugin territory.
  3. Suffusion doesn’t store any cookies of any sort.

If you encounter questions about GDPR compliance, please feel free to point the users to this page.

May 252018
 

In the past few weeks there has been a fair bit of buzz around General Data Protection Regulation a.k.a. GDPR, an EU law on data protection and privacy. In my day job as a consultant I am quite familiar with GDPR, but what took me by surprise was a question on the support forum asking me if Photonic was GDPR compliant.

To answer that and related questions I decided to post this on my blog. I will, subsequently, include the relevant content from this in the next release of Photonic. So, let’s get this out of the way:

  1. Photonic is GDPR compliant.
  2. When you (the WordPress user) install and activate Photonic on your site no information is sent back to me (the developer) or to any website that I own. Additionally when you save your API keys and authentication tokens within Photonic none of that information is sent to me either. It all stays within your WordPress settings, inaccessible to anyone apart from a user with administrative privileges on your website.
  3. What about when visitors (the end users) visit your website? Let’s break this down:
    1. When you set up Photonic without back-end (server side) or front-end (client side) authentication, Photonic stores no information of the end users anywhere. In other words nothing is sent to you, the WordPress user or me, the developer. Also, no cookies are stored in the end users’ browsers.
    2. When you set up Photonic with back-end authentication, you save your access tokens within WordPress’ settings environment. This is used for technical purposes to retrieve your photos and display them on your website. Again, this is within your settings environment and none of the information is collected or sent to me.
    3. When you set up Photonic with front-end authentication, your end-users will have to log into Flickr / Google (Picasa) / SmugMug / 500px to see your private photos. In such a scenario a cookie is stored with the end users’ authentication in their browsers. This is required from a user-experience point of view so that the users don’t have to login each time they visit a new page on your website. Your end-users’ information and data is not sent to you and is not collected by Photonic for storing within your environment or for being sent elsewhere.

From the time I released version 1.65, three things have happened in the photography world which will impact Photonic in the long and short term:

  1. Facebook started clamping down on third party apps after Cambridge Analytica’s shenanigans. They had done this in the past with Instagram, and that caused a massive disruption for sites using the Instagram API. In fact, to date I haven’t been able to convince them to grant the requisite permissions to Photonic to display tags etc. Burnt by my experience with Instagram I had been very wary about extending Photonic to Facebook. In hindsight that was a good decision since Facebook has made it harder to get approvals for apps to pull photos etc. I would have ended up throwing away a lot of development effort if I had built a Facebook module.
  2. SmugMug has acquired Flickr. This took me by surprise. As of now the platforms and APIs are independent and they haven’t announced any plans to merge them in the short term. However, if and when the merge, I will have to redo the code in accordance with the redesigned API. That is a bridge too far for now and I will cross it when I get to it.
  3. 500px.com announced that they are shutting down their API from 15th June 2018. And when this happens, there is nothing I can do to fetch photos from a platform. I have written to them to see if there will be any way to pull photos, but for now we must assume that the 500px.com module of Photonic will stop working from 15th June due to this change.

In the meanwhile I am working on adding video support to Photonic. Stay tuned.

Feb 122017
 

I have stopped working on Suffusion (and supporting it in any form) after it was pulled from the WordPress repository. However, there were several requests for the code to be made available for download. I have finally put up a version at GitHub. There are two folders available there:

  • code – Contains the raw code used for the theme. I have ensured that all of it is current as per version 4.4.9, and that a couple of corrections required have been included.
  • dist – Contains the zip files for the code. You can use the 4.4.9 version (the last available version from WP), or the 4.5.0 version. The 4.5.0 version contains the corrections cited above.

Please note that I am not resuming development for the theme – keeping up with an obstructionist Theme Review Team is too cumbersome (apparently now Custom CSS is not allowed in themes!!). There will potentially be a point of time in the future when the currently available versions will cease to be compatible with WordPress. As of now the theme runs fine with WP 4.7.2.

Jun 242016
 

On 22nd June, Suffusion was removed from the WP themes directory all of a sudden. Someone decided that a theme whose last version was released and approved 5 months back and whose users had been generally happy did not meet requirements, and yanked the theme.

My response to the comment was simple:

However, given that I have always come out at the losing end of these discussions, please feel free to keep the theme suspended. I have neither the inclination nor energy to get drawn into this again, particularly since the customizer implementation is back-breaking, and the users of the theme had been perfectly happy with the theme in its current state and the once-in-a-while critical updates that they were getting.

If any of you is interested I can provide the rebuttals here, but it is not worth the time and effort. Stay assured that the all “concerns” about security are unadulterated rubbish. All options are written into the database in a secure manner using the recommended functions and via WP’s standard APIs and then retrieved. If they are really concerned about security, they have to look at the WP platform itself and ensure that none can access options stored in the database for any theme or plugin (not just Suffusion).

As for the rest, the sole deal-breaker is the Customizer implementation. Switching to it is akin to writing a new theme, and that is something I just cannot do.

Anyway, this has been a long and satisfying ride. Thank you for all your support in helping this theme get to the pinnacle of WP themes multiple times over. For those who have the theme currently installed, don’t worry – it will still work as it has; I just will not be able to release any updates for it and it will no longer be available as a theme from the WP directory. In case you are concerned about the “fatal error” on the ticket, the Suffusion Shortcodes plugin addresses it.

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 062013
 

This is a day I had been dreaming of for a while. Eventually a few minutes past 7:30AM Central Time today, Suffusion hit a lifetime download mark of 1,000,000. Yup. One million downloads.

One Million Downloads

One Million Downloads

Thanks to all of you for helping Suffusion get so far, right about the time of its fourth birthday!

I also wanted to provide a quick update – I fixed an issue in the Suffusion Shortcodes plugin that was preventing the plugin from accepting more than 5 ad-hoc widget areas. Release 1.03 of the plugin should work fine.

Nov 102012
 

It seems like one rather nasty bug slipped through the cracks in 4.4.0. These are the symptoms: when you upgrade, you might suddenly start seeing your images stretched to the full width of your post, not respecting any custom width that you have specified for them.

The fix is very easy:

  1. Open style.css. You can do so from your WP Dashboard by going to Appearance → Editor and selecting style.css for editing. Alternatively you can use FTP to modify the file locally and load it back to the server.
  2. Look for this code:
    .entry img {
        max-width: 100%;
        width: auto;
    }
  3. Change it to:
    .entry img {
        max-width: 100%;
    }
  4. Save the changes.

That’s it – the images should show up correctly. My apologies for any alarms that this might have caused you. I have already fixed it and submitted a patch.

Nov 022012
 

WordPress recently introduced a new review system at WordPress.org. Under this system you can write a review for any theme or plugin and it gets attached to the theme or plugin page. Earlier the only way to put in a review was to comment on the support forum at WordPress.org.

If you have liked my work (and even if you haven’t), I urge you to provide a review. The review sites for some of my projects are:

  1. Suffusion: http://wordpress.org/support/view/theme-reviews/suffusion/
  2. Photonic: http://wordpress.org/support/view/plugin-reviews/photonic/
  3. FontMeister: http://wordpress.org/support/view/plugin-reviews/fontmeister/

I have been gradually wading through things on the professional front and will hopefully free up some much needed time to code. The responsive version of Suffusion should be out shortly, as will some enhancements to Photonic and FontMeister.

Oct 272012
 

Normally I am quick to announce landmarks such as 300 theme ratings, however in recent weeks I have had very little time to devote to Suffusion development. So here is a belated announcement: Suffusion now has 300 ratings on the WordPress.org website! This is a huge achievement since there is only one theme that has been rated more often than Suffusion, and among all top rated themes, Suffusion’s average rating is the highest. So thanks to all of you who have given the theme a 5-star rating. Since ratings are pretty much my only remuneration apart from the coffee fund, perfect ratings are welcomed with open arms.

Over the past few releases I have been gradually opening up Suffusion for better public collaboration. I started with the FontMeister plugin, which I could have built into Suffusion, then released the shortcodes functionality and I have been adding lots of hooks to the theme.

The latest development in this is the setup of a new mechanism for translations. You can now get your translations from the new translation pool. To download a translation:

  1. Visit the above site.
  2. Look for your translation.
  3. If you find it, open the page for your translation.
  4. At the bottom you will see a link to “Export”. Click on that to get the PO and MO files. Rename them according to your locale (see the Codex for the file names you need to use) and save them to the translation folder of your child theme.

If you wish to modify / add a translation, register at the Aquoid Community. Then log into the translation pool, open the language you want to edit and put in your changes. Note that if you are not a validator for a language, your changes will not be final until approved. In such a case tweet me (@sayontan), and I will approve the changes.

If you wish for a new language to be added to the list, or if you want to be made a validator for a language tweet me.

The Translations page has been updated with the new instructions.