Throughout Lorelle’s WordPress School this year, I will be teaching you the words, jargon, and names of things, including their nick names. We’ll start with the word “WordPress.”
WordPress is an Open Source web publishing, content management system platform.
That’s a mouthful. Let’s break it down.
Open Source is software for which the original source code is designed to be freely available and may be shared, redistributed, and modified. This is important to understand because WordPress is Open Source, freely available, may be shared and redistributed, and modified.
WordPress is free. Not all open source projects are free, though most tend to be. The co-founders and developers of WordPress set up a trust to ensure WordPress will remain free. It’s called the WordPress Foundation.
WordPress was developed from another open source project called b2/cafelog. This process is called “fork” or forking a project off one to become another. Michel Valdrighi created b2/cafe log in 2001 and in 2003, Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little forked it to create WordPress. I’m not sure what is left inside WordPress from b2/cafelog, but it was the code that started this whole project. There have also been many forks from WordPress including WordPress Multisite, now incorporated into the WordPress core.
From it’s first steps, WordPress has always been about web publishing, about making it easier to have your say online.
My blogging software hasn’t been updated for months, and the main developer has disappeared, and I can only hope that he’s okay.
What to do? Well, Textpattern looks like everything I could ever want, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to be licensed under something politically I could agree with. Fortunately, b2/cafelog is GPL, which means that I could use the existing codebase to create a fork, integrating all the cool stuff that Michel would be working on right now if only he was around. The work would never be lost, as if I fell of the face of the planet a year from now, whatever code I made would be free to the world, and if someone else wanted to pick it up they could. I’ve decided that this the course of action I’d like to go in, now all I need is a name. What should it do? Well, it would be nice to have the flexibility of MovableType, the parsing of TextPattern, the hackability of b2, and the ease of setup of Blogger. Someday, right?
While people use WordPress for a wide variety of publishing projects, including now mobile apps, WordPress has always been about the words and publishing. It’s defined in its name.
Content Management System
A content management system (CMS) is a web publishing platform that makes it easy for you to manage content. Duh. What does that mean?
A content management system is a tool for organizing content and publishing it easily. Another description is to call it a dynamic web publishing platform.
Technically, this means a website is generated by means of code that hooks into a database to extract information and populate the web pages based upon the user’s actions and requests. If the user wishes to visit the front page of a site, code takes that request and generates the front page of the site featuring multiple posts in reverse chronological order, or however the front page is setup to be displayed. If the user wants to explore a specific category of posts, they click on the category link and the code generates a web page featuring the posts within that category. It’s dynamic.
Where does the content management come to play? With the ease of an interface that permits content and design elements to be added and rearranged to meet the desires and needs of the site. With WordPress, Pages and posts, categories and tags, and other content structure and organizational features help to mange the content and how it is presented on the site. Content is easy to publish, access, and edit.
This is the part of WordPress that confuses many people. WordPress is technically not software. WordPress is not an online program. WordPress is not an app as in mobile app, though that is probably the best way to think about it, and there are mobile apps for using WordPress.
A platform, specifically web platform, has many technical definitions, so let’s keep this simple. A platform is a server-based system upon which application programs run upon. WordPress is installed on a web server and runs from there, with an interface accessed and viewed through your web browser.
All these words go together to explain WordPress, but what is WordPress really?
Things About WordPress You Should Know
WordPress is a tool used for publishing web pages within a website. WordPress is a way to let your voice be heard. WordPress is free to use and modify.
There are different versions of WordPress. We will get into these later, but specifically they are:
- Self-hosted WordPress: WordPress installed on a web server and controlled independently by the site owner
- Hosted or Managed WordPress: WordPress installed on a web server typically using the Multisite version of WordPress where people can create individually managed WordPress sites. WordPress.com is an example. The flexibility of the site’s members to modify their site is based upon how the site is implemented with WordPress Multisite.
- WordPress Multisite: WordPress installed with the ability to install multiple independent or dependent websites from within a single installation of WordPress. WordPress.com is an example.
WordPress is spelled with a capital P in the middle. In my classes, it is an “instant fail” to write out the word “WordPress” without a capital P in the middle. This is more than spelling WordPress right. It is about the attention to details that I refer to often. One of my students wrote “Why is the P in WordPress Important?” for ClarkWP WordPress Magazine for one of his assignments, and covered a recent conversation on WP Tavern called “Do You Mistrust A Company That Misspells WordPress?” citing one of the commenters:
…if a company bills themselves as “Wordpress specialists” then they won’t get a second look. If you claim to specialize or be an expert in something then you are setting yourself up to be held to high standards. Misspelling the product you specialize in is not acceptable.
Just as your site’s categories and tags send first impressions, so does the misspelling of WordPress.
WordPress is trademarked and may not be used in the domain name of any site without the express permission of the WordPress Foundation. This is why you find so many websites and companies with WP in their name as WordPress specialists. WP is acceptable in the domain name.
While we are on trademarks and a little of WordPress history, we were delighted with the release of the WordPress circle logo many years ago. Unfortunately a fan created some beautiful and popular styled logos using the wrong font and they are still around. In 2009, Matt Mullenweg published a logo comparison graphic to ensure people used the right logo. If you will be using the WordPress logo, make sure you choose the right one.
You may learn more about WordPress and its history in the following articles:
- The History of WordPress – Learning from Lorelle
- History – WordPress Codex
- WordPress History – Sample Chapter – WordPress Codex
- WordPress – Wikipedia
- History of WordPress: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly – WPExplorer
- With 60 Million Websites, WordPress Rules The Web. So Where’s The Money? – Forbes
This is a tutorial from Lorelle’s WordPress School. For more information, and to join this free, year-long, online WordPress School, see:
- Lorelle’s WordPress School Introduction
- Lorelle’s WordPress School Description
- WordPress School Tutorials List
- WordPress Publishing Checklist
- How to Give Feedback and Criticism