Feb 032019

This post essentially marks the end-of-life of support for Suffusion from this website.

The Aquoid Support Forum was the one-stop-shop for Suffusion support as well as for support provided for other plugins I have built over the years. However it was beset by problems, primary among them being the insanely high number of spammers who used to register. Considering that it was on a different platform (phpBB) than the rest of this website (WordPress), it received a different level of attention from the creators of the software. As a result I had moved support for everything except Suffusion to the native WordPress forums. This worked well because I at least didn’t have to worry about managing spammers. Regardless, the forum served as a lifeline for Suffusion users who got to reach out for support after the theme was pulled from the WP repository in June 2016, since that point of time crippled the native WordPress forums for it.

In any case, at this point the energy required to administer the forum is a lot more than I or any of the volunteers can invest, so I am closing it down with immediate effect.

For starters, the forum is still available for browsing, but I have shut down two core things:

  1. User Registration
  2. Posting capability

New users will no longer be able to register there, and old as well as new users will be unable to post to it.

What Next?

There is the GitHub site where I had hosted the last stable version of Suffusion – https://github.com/sayontan/suffusion. New users can consider creating issues there. Regular forum contributors Colin and Drake are set up as collaborators on that repository, so they have privileges to release code / patches there.

This will help / encourage users who wish to fork out Suffusion do so from that website.

Closing Thoughts

Suffusion was created at a time when:

  • WordPress was a platform incapable of doing anything apart from very simple blogs. There was no capability to do custom menus, nothing to support custom post types, no post thumbnails etc.
  • The “premium” theme market had multiple players who certainly charged a premium, but failed to deliver very basic features without requiring a developer.
  • The era of page-builders was at least 5-6 years away

Suffusion offered novel solutions for each of the above and all that for free.

The theme remained a pioneer for several years, but with the ever mounting barriers imposed by the WPTRT it became harder and harder to maintain. Every new whim of the WPTRT would mandate a massive change of code for Suffusion (removal of shortcodes, replacement of theme options with the Customizer, removal of custom widgets etc.).

When finally removed from the repository, what I felt was a mix of rage, resignation and relief. Luckily Suffusion had a bulletproof foundation that several thousands of users still found easy to use, and even 2.5 years after removal the theme still manages to stand on its own for the most part. I had hoped that the theme would die down in the months to come, but it has still lingered on, hence rather than shut it down completely I moved it all to GitHub.

I would recommend, though, for users to pick out newer and lighter themes, because the free themes space is a lot more diverse, and WP itself has managed to integrate many of the features of Suffusion in a native manner. Essentially the niche that Suffusion filled for over 5 years is no longer existent, and you might have a more spiffy blog running something else.

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.

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.

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!