WordPress is an open source project and free to use. The source code repository is located at WordPress Repository. WordPress is written in PHP programming language.
WordPress is the most popular CMS (Content Management System). CMS WordPress is a content creation and management platform. It is estimated that, WordPress powers 62% of all websites. This covers 35% of top 10,000,000 websites. Overall, WordPress is used by more than 60,000,000 websites worldwide. It is one of the most favorite blog platforms for bloggers. It was first released 17 years ago, in 2003. As of May 27th, 2020, version 5.4 is the latest stable release. WordPress Foundation is the official Developers of WordPress.
WordPress uses MySQL Database Server at it backend. It also officially supports MariaDB Database Server. Officially not supported, yet, WordPress is compatible with Percona Database Server. WordPress, being dependent on PHP, runs on major Operating Systems like Windows, GNU/Linux distros, e.g., Ubuntu, Debian, RHL, CentOS, Arch Linux, etc. and Unix-variants, e.g., FreeBSD, NetBSD, Darwin, etc.
To serve the web pages, posts and similar contents, WordPress needs a Web Server. NGINX, Apache, litespeed and IIS are the frequently used web servers for WordPress. To function, WordPress needs a domain and web hosting service. It can be installed locally on Personal Computers for Research, Development and Testing purposes.
WordPress Foundation believes in democratizing publishing. They uphold the freedom to build, the freedom to change and the freedom to share.
WordPress is licensed under GPLv2. The official website of WordPress is wordpress.org.
It all began with a fork!
Project b2/cafelog is the precursor and predecessor of WordPress. The b2/cafelog (generally known as b2) was launched in 2001 as a blogging tool by French programmer Michel Valdrighi. The b2 was programmed in PHP using the MySQL database server as the backend. In 2002, Valdrighi stopped developing the b2.
By the year 2003, b2 was installed on approximately 2,000 blogging websites. An American web developer, Matt Mullenweg, was also using b2 in his blog site.
Seeing the b2 project was put on a hold, on January 2003 Matt Mullenweg wrote in a post on his blog that he would be willing to create a fork of the project b2.
It happened that, an English web developer Mike Little came by the post, and contacted Matt by leaving the comment on the post, "If you’re serious about forking b2 I would be interested in contributing. I’m sure there are one or two others in the community who would be too. Perhaps a post to the B2 forum, suggesting a fork would be a good starting point."
Matt Mullenweg forked b2. Christine Selleck Tremoulet, a friend of Mullenweg, suggested the name WordPress for the fork.
Thus, Mullenweg and Little founded WordPress and started working together on the development of open source WordPress project, the official successor of b2.
Interestingly, the original b2 developer Michel Valdrighi soon joined them as a contributing developer.
Mullenweg and Little wanted to create a blogging platform, better than b2, with more features and consistent development. The gap of a well-architected blog publishing system was clearly a need in deed.
The first release of WordPress was appeared on May 27, 2003.
WordPress commenced it journey as a blog publishing platform. During its colorful journey, WordPress evolved as a full-fledged Content Management System. So, WordPress is a CMS. WordPress takes modular approach to content processing, processing and presentation. This ability gives WordPress users the versatility to use it for many apparently different kind of websites – forum, gallery, blog, website, membership, learning management and many. Despite not a being framework, WordPress is also used as a mobile application and web application platform. In recent years Headless WordPress has got considerable tracts.
"What is WordPress?", ask me!
WordPress is the most useful web platform. Be it blogging, ecommerce or headless, WordPress is always excellent and versatile for every different purpose. Large or small, WordPress is a great head-start solution for all sort of websites on earth.
In bird’s eye view, WordPress is a factory that makes web pages. It enables a user to create, store and publish contents as web pages requiring no technical skills and know-hows. At its core, WordPress has a web templating system that is used by themes to deliver contents polished for the browser.
WordPress Developers believe, “Great software should work with minimal setup, so you can focus on sharing your story, product or services.” You asked, “What is WordPress?” Now you know.
WordPress is released under the GPLv2 (or later), providing four core freedoms advocated by the Free Software Foundation. The four core freedoms are known as the “WordPress Bill of Rights,” WordPress license also outlines the requirements for derivative works. The scope and definition of the derivative works of WordPress resides somewhat in legal grey area. WordPress Foundation strongly considers that, themes and plugins are derivative works. The outline inclines that, derivative works of WordPress inherit the GPL license. Derivative works that rely on extend the core functionalities of WordPress, thus, automatically pass on the four core freedoms, aka, the WordPress Bill of Rights.
WordPress is aware of the fact that, some people or organization might not like the GPL as WordPress licensing, and they might try to restrict the freedom of their users by finding loopholes or circumventing the intent of the WordPress licensing. They might also try to get around the ideals of the GPL licensing.
Instead of mitigating the fact, WordPress rests the case upon the community believing that the community will reward those who focus on supporting the WordPress licensing instead of avoiding it.
Every WordPress installation package includes a copy of the WordPress GPL license.
WordPress Bill of Rights
Being the GPL licensed, WordPress provides the four core freedoms. These four freedoms are considered as the WordPress Bill of Rights:
- The 1st Freedom: The freedom to run the program for any purpose.
- The 2nd Freedom: The freedom to study how the program works and change it to make it do what you wish.
- The 3rd Freedom: The freedom to redistribute.
- The 4th Freedom: The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others.
WordPress Top Level Domains
WordPress owns and maintains WordPress.com, WordPress.net, WordPress.org, WordPress.tv and WordPressFoundation.org domains. Among them, wordpress.com and wordpress.org create confusion among the beginners.
The wordpress.org is the primary support website of WordPress. The support includes the online documentation and information for WordPress (WordPress Codex) and WordPress Forums.
You can download latest release of WordPress from this website. You need your own domain (or subdomain) and web hosting facilities to use the WordPress software you download from wordpress.org.
WordPress.org is also the repository of WordPress themes and plugins freely available to use on WordPress websites.
WordPress.com is the hosted version of WordPress. You can create a WordPress website of your own and tinker with it for free. No domain or hosting is required at yours end.
Domains, Trademarks and Restrictions
WordPress Foundation asks to not to use “WordPress” in your domain names you own, if you’re starting a website about WordPress or related to it.
The reasons for such restrictions are many, including, yet not limited to, WordPress Trademark preservation and conflict of interest. For starters, WordPress Foundation suggests to use “wp”, like: wpexample.com, or any other short form variation that somehow or somewhat resembles to the WordPress trademark.
However, the word “WordPress” in the subdomain, like: wordpress.example.com, is fine with the Foundation. They are just concerned about he TLD (Top Level Domain).
WordPress Themes and Plugins Repository
The WordPress Repository for Themes and Plugins hosts approximately over 5,000 listed themes and 50,000 listed plugins respectively.
Themes and plugins are submitted for inclusion by development individuals, not-for-profit organizations and for-profit companies. Submitted themes and plugins are manually reviewed by volunteers. Upon successfully reviewed and accepted, these themes and plugins are made available on the repository for public downloads.
WordPress website administrators are notified, in the WP (WordPress) Admin dashboard, about such updates of installed themes and plugins.
WordPress website administrators manually decide to update and upgrade to the latest versions of themes and plugins.
The wordpress.org website provides extensive documentation on WordPress Theme Development and WordPress Plugin Development. There are also guidelines for plugin developers to follow prior to submission of their plugins.
Once the submitted theme or plugin made publicly available in the repository, each theme and plugin can be continually developed, debugged, improved, modified or extended by the owner. These subsequent developments can be uploaded to the repository, along with a changelog, to make publicly available for users.
WordPress themes and plugins are prone to security vulnerabilities. Inclusion in the repository does not guarantee that they are free from such vulnerabilities. When a vulnerability is reported and acknowledged by the WordPress Security Team, they contact the author and work together to fix the issue and release an updated version mitigating the loophole. In case the author could not be reached in timely fashion, the theme or plugin is either fixed and updated directly by the security team, or immediately removed from the public repository.
Giving back to the WordPress Open Source Project
WordPress Foundation realizes the community as their biggest asset, and encourages the community to giving back to the WordPress open source project. Meetings and the community is conducted in the #community-team Slack Channel. Meeting Minutes are published on the Make Community Blog.
In recent times, the Foundation undertook an initiative to create a project-wide Code of Conduct to ensure the safety of participants and contributors.
Participation in the WordPress open source project is open to all. Anyone who wishes to join is welcome to participate; regardless of the ability, skill, financial status or any other criterions.
The community strives to maintain such an environment where everyone feels equally inclusive. The community cares about diversity and keeps itself free from discrimination, violence, hate and unwelcoming behavior.
Members of the community can donate their time and effort to the WordPress open source project. Efforts may be of any form including design, coding, documentation, etc.
The WordPress project is driven by the volunteer-run community. In case, contributors are sponsored by companies, that effort is also donated for the greater benefits of the open source community.
Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little co-founded the WordPress open source project back in 2003. As of today, Matt Mullenweg is the lead developer. H is accompanied by the key developers including Helen Hou-Sandí, Dion Hulse, Mark Jaquith, Andrew Ozz, and Andrew Nacin.
Matt Mullenweg founded the company Automattic. Historically, WordPress is closely associated with it. However, after forming the WordPress Foundation, on September 9, 2010, Automattic handed over the WordPress trademark to the WordPress Foundation. WordPress Foundation is the organization behind the wordpress.org, bbPress and buddyPress.
In addition, WordPress is mainly developed and tested by its community. WP Testers is a group of volunteers who have access to test nighty builds, beta versions and release candidates. The publish the error documentation in a special mailing list or to the Trac tool.
WordCamps are loally organized conferences with the aim of connecting people who aren’t active in their local communities. WordCamps inspire attendees to start user communities in their hometowns covering every aspects of WordPress as a get-together event.
San Francisco hosted the first WordCamp in 2006. The event had 500 attendees and lasted a day. Next year, in 2007, Beijing was the second to hold the WordCamp.
Since then, more than 1,000 WordCamps around over the world.
The WordPress Release Cycle
WordPress core developers (one or two of them, in particular) lead each WordPress release cycle. Release cycles usually last 4 months and ascertains the following phases.
- Phase 1: Planning and securing team leads.
- Phase 2: Development work begins.
- Phase 3: Beta.
- Phase 4: Release Candidate.
- Phase 5: Launch.
Version Numbering and Security Releases
WordPress distinguishes major and minor releases using the version number.
A major version release is denoted by the first two sequences. For example, version 3.7 is a major release. Major releases usually add new user features and developer APIs.
A minor version release is denoted by the third sequence. For example, version 3.4.23 is a minor release. Minor releases are reserved for fixing security vulnerabilities and addressing critical bugs only.
Version Backwards Compatibility
WordPress is committed to backwards compatibility. This ensures that themes, plugins, and custom code continues to function when WordPress is updated. All WordPress releases are mostly backward compatible. This encourages users to upgrade their site with newer releases.