WordPress is a free and open source blogging tool and content management system (CMS) based on PHP and MySQL. It has many features including a plug-in architecture and a template system. WordPress is used by over 14.7% of Alexa Internet's "top 1 million" websites and as of August 2011 manages 22% of all new websites. WordPress is currently the most popular CMS in use on the Internet.
It was first released on May 27, 2003, by Matt Mullenweg as a fork of b2/cafelog. As of December 2011, version 3.0 had been downloaded over 65 million times.
WordPress started in 2003 with a single bit of code to enhance the typography of everyday writing and with fewer users than you can count on your fingers and toes. Since then it has grown to be the largest self-hosted blogging tool in the world, used on millions of sites and seen by tens of millions of people every day.
Everything you see here, from the documentation to the code itself, was created by and for the community. WordPress is an Open Source project, which means there are hundreds of people all over the world working on it. (More than most commercial platforms.) It also means you are free to use it for anything from your cat’s home page to a Fortune 500 web site without paying anyone a license fee and a number of other important freedoms.
On this site you can download and install a software script called WordPress. To do this you need a web host who meets the minimum requirements and a little time. WordPress is completely customizable and can be used for almost anything. There is also a service called WordPress.com which lets you get started with a new and free WordPress-based blog in seconds, but varies in several ways and is less flexible than the WordPress you download and install yourself.
What You Can Use WordPress For
WordPress started as just a blogging system, but has evolved to be used as full content management system and so much more through the thousands of plugins, widgets, and themes, WordPress is limited only by your imagination. (And tech chops.)
Connect with the Community
In addition to online resources like the forums and mailing lists a great way to get involved with WordPress is to attend or volunteer at a WordCamp, which are free or low-cost events that happen all around the world to gather and educate WordPress users, organized by WordPress users. Check out the website, there might be a WordCamp near you.
A Little History
WordPress was born out of a desire for an elegant, well-architectured personal publishing system built on PHP and MySQL and licensed under the GPLv2 (or later). It is the official successor of b2/cafelog. WordPress is fresh software, but its roots and development go back to 2001. It is a mature and stable product. We hope by focusing on user experience and web standards we can create a tool different from anything else out there.
For a bit more about WordPress' history check out the WordPress Wikipedia page or this page on our own Codex.
One of the principle advantages of WordPress is that you are in control. Unlike remote-hosted scripts such as Blogger and LiveJournal, you host WordPress on your own server. Installation is very simple, as is the configuration. Unlike other software programs, there are not a million files to chmod nor are there dozens of templates to edit just to get your site set up and looking the way you want. Also, Blog pages in Wordpress are generated on the fly whenever a page is requested, so you do not have multiple archive pages clogging up your web space. Waiting for pages to rebuild is a thing of the past because template changes are made in scant seconds.
WordPress is built following W3C standards for XHTML and CSS, ensuring that your site is more easily rendered across standards-compliant browsers. Other browsers are supported with a few hacks; it’s a reality of the web we weave that hacks are necessary. Aggregator support is built-in with a number of standard RSS configurations already done for you, as well as Atom. Following standards makes your WordPress site easier to manage, increases its longevity for future Internet technology adoption, and helps to give your site the widest audience possible.
WordPress was primarily inspired by Noah Grey's Greymatter open-source web log and journal software. It is related to b2, sort of a second cousin twice removed. You can use WordPress to post your own stories, ideas, rants, reviews, links, and pictures of your toothless Uncle Ernie at the wedding reception, if you choose. In addition, you can customize the look and feel of your site. Numerous themes are available and may be modified in many different ways. Through the use of WordPress Themes, you can quickly change the look and style of your site. As you can see, its functionality exceeds or at least is similar to what is available in most blogging tools today.
The only time you would modify your WordPress blog with PHP would be when integrating some of the plugins. In most cases, clear instructions are usually given within a text file with the plugin.
Other than that, you would not be changing any of the PHP files.
Text smileys are created by typing two or more punctuation marks. Some examples are: