A quick look at WordPress

WordPress.com is a popular open source blogging platform owned by Automattic which commenced beta testing on August 8, 2005 and opened to the public on November 21, 2005. It is powered by the open source WordPress software. It is financially supported via paid upgrades, ‘VIP’ services and limited Google Adsense advertising. As a WordPress user, you have the option of setting up a WordPress blog on your own server (for free) or creating a WordPress-hosted blog at WordPress.com. Coupled with an enormous community of followers and developers, WordPress developed a multitude of themes, plug-ins, and gadgets of all types and sizes.

WordPress isn’t as simple to set up and configure as some of the other blog sites, however, once you get it up and running you’re rewarded with a nearly limitless array of options, configurations, and plug-ins. Finding a customization tool or trick for WordPress is as easy as a cursory Google search. WordPress is a scalable solution that allows you to do everything from maintain a single blog with a single user to an entire stable of blogs with multiple users all overseen by a primary administrator. WordPress is publishing software with a focus on ease of use, speed and the user experience. WordPress boasts an active community, which is the heart of open source software.

‘WordPress was born out of a desire for an elegant, well-architectured personal publishing system built on PHP and MySQL and licensed under the GPL. 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 web standards and user experience we can create a tool different from anything else out there.’

WordPress is a powerful semantic publishing platform which comes with an impressive set of features designed to make the experience as a publisher on the Internet easy, pleasant and appealing. WordPress is a freely distributed, standards-compliant, fast, light and free content management system (CMS), with sensible default settings and features, and an extremely customisable core.

One of the most impressive features of WordPress is it’s ability to reconfigure the display depending on what device is viewing the content. This term is referred to as ‘responsive’ and it allows your web site to be viewed on a desktop computer, tablet, or smartphone via the best possible configuration for that system.

Responsive designs solve the problem of making a website work for an endless number of new devices and resolutions which are currently used to access the web. In particular the growing popularity of interfacing with the web via mobile devices. Everything from iPhones, smartphones, iPads and tablets, mobile phones, video game consoles, TVs, netbooks, Kindles and other e-readers are used to access the web. Themes with a responsive design mean your website will display perfectly on all these devices, without the need for separate mobile themes, plugins or style sheets.

Responsive WordPress themes are becoming more and more popular, and there is a growing number of responsive themes becoming available to cater for all types of websites including magazine, portfolio, gallery, personal blog, business, ecommerce, music and even real estate websites.

WordPress powers nearly a quarter of new sites today, is the content management system (CMS) of choice for more than two thirds of the top million sites making it the most popular on the web, and is trusted by content publishers both large and small including CNN and the New York Times. WordPress boasts more than 50 million sites globally and eight years of proven history. The new NMIT web site is based on a responsive WordPress platform.

At the core of WordPress is a simple interface similar to the desktop publishing software you use today. With no coding experience or expert knowledge necessary, the learning curve is often about as short as typing in your site’s URL and logging in. Interfaces are polished and easy to use, and are the result of years of refinement.

It’s the power of Microsoft Word with the intuitiveness of an iPhone.

WordPress makes sharing content and attracting readers to your site an easy task. Whether pushing content to social networks, ensuring that your website is provided in the optimal format to appear at the top of search results the moment you hit publish, or providing visitors the ability to subscribe to specific content sub-feeds in their favourite feed reader (or even via email), WordPress is not simply a website, but rather a content-publishing platform.

With a single click, you have a powerful megaphone to broadcast your message to the world.

The following is an outline of some of the other features that come standard with WordPress (there are literally tens of thousands of plugins that extend what WordPress does, so the actual functionality is nearly limitless). You are also free to do whatever you like with the WordPress code, extend it or modify in any way or use it for commercial projects without any licensing fees.

WordPress is supported by a community of users who have already solved many of the toughest challenges to sharing information today. The latest version of WordPress has been downloaded more than 10 million times since it was released a few months ago, and the prior version was downloaded more than 6 million times. With a library of more than 20,000 free, open-source plug-ins and themes, and hundreds of core contributors each release cycle, the WordPress community is an ecosystem built around the platform’s viability and proven success.

WordPress can take the place of your entire workflow from the initial draft to the time you hit publish – including spelling, grammar, collaboration, and review. Everything that makes webpages feel rich – pictures, videos, music, documents – can be incorporated inside a WordPress document. A drag-and-drop file uploader uses the latest technology to ensure your file makes it to the web page every time, while a media browser is embedded into the system to help you store, organize and find the files you’re looking for.

WordPress will automatically save your work as you. If you want to revert to a previous version, WordPress creates a snapshot that you can restore with a single click. WordPress also lets you schedule posts for some time in the future or lets you backdate a post for some time in the past so that you can write when its convenient for you.

You can give passwords to individual posts to hide them from the public. You can also have private posts which are viewable only by their author. If your post is too long, cut it up into pages, so your readers don’t have to scroll. Save your unfinished articles, improve them later, publish when you’re done. Before you press the ‘Publish’ button, you can look at the preview for the article you just wrote to check if everything is the way you want it. You can do that at any time, since the preview is ‘live’.

WordPress organizes your content by day, by month, by year, by author, by category — any way you can describe it — and creates browsable archives so things always stay up to date. Every word you write is fully searchable through a single box at the top of each page and if your readers choose to use an external search engine like Google, WordPress will present your content in a way that usually ensures it makes it to the top of the results.

Every WordPress URL is intuitively written for humans and describes what your content says, not where it sits in a database. This avoids the use of URLs displaying a string of unintelligible letters and numbers.

Every time you hit publish WordPress typesets each and every letter for seamless web production. WordPress uses the Texturize engine to convert web-unfriendly characters like quotes, apostrophes, ellipses, em and en dashes, multiplication symbols, and ampersands into typographically correct HTML entities. As WordPress has been translated to more than 60 different languages you can create a site that is localized to your choice, and delivered in a language of your choice. The get-text method is used to translate and localize WordPress to the fullest extent.

Most of what users see from menus to the dynamic functionality on each page can be fully customized with simple drag-and-drop controls on the back end. Got a collection of users? WordPress lets you define different roles for different users – just like in real life – and lets you assign privileges accordingly. Users can register themselves (if you want), and can submit content for your review.

The RSS 1.0 (aka RDF), RSS 2.0 and ATOM specifications are fully supported by WordPress. Just about any page on your site has an associated feed that your readers can subscribe to – there’s a feed for the latest posts, for categories, comments, and practically anything you want. The more options your readers have to keep track of different sections of your site, the easier it is for you to spread the word around the world. WordPress also fully supports RSS 2.0 with enclosures, so adding mp3 files (such as podcasts) to your RSS feeds is a snap.

WordPress has a built-in user registration system that (if you choose) can allow people to register and maintain profiles and leave authenticated comments on your blog. You can optionally close comments for non-registered users. There are also plugins that hide posts from lower level users.

WordPress provides extensive out-of-the-box functionality. Often little customization is needed to adapt the software for your unique use. Many other CMSs rely on the creator to hunt down, install, and configure a long-list of add-ons just to get the features WordPress considers core (comments, RSS feeds, revisions, etc.) and relies on developers to undertake significant coding efforts to provide the functionality you need.

WordPress is built by a dedicated community of professional developers, academics, and enthusiasts with the source code released to the world to take apart, build upon, and improve. It’s hallmark is a rapid development cycle, meaning frequent updates and always up-to-date software, all with no licensing fees or direct costs. And with an extensive international community professional support is always wherever you are.

WordPress is designed to be installed on your own web server, in the cloud, or in a shared hosting account. You have complete control. Unlike commercial software or third-party hosted services, you can be sure of being able to access and modify everything related to your site.

You can even install WordPress on your personal computer, or on a corporate intranet.

WordPress offers multi-site technology. It is the same technology that powers over 20 million sites on WordPress.com and global sites like CNN and the New York Times. Multi-site technology allows users to have full administrative control over their own site, without any security concerns. Each site can have its own look-and-feel (themes), its own functionality (plug-ins), and manage its own users, while at the same time, network-wide policies and security updates can be deployed at the click of a button.

There is no rebuilding of all your pages each time you update your site, or any aspect of it. All pages are generated using the database and the templates each time a page from your site is requested by a viewer. This means that updating your site, or its design is as fast as possible, and required server storage space usage is minimal.

WordPress uses templates to generate the pages dynamically. You can control the presentation of content by editing the templates using your favourite text-editor or IDE, or even the built-in Template Editor tool. Template tags make it easier to design the content and information displayed on your site.

You don’t need to be a PHP whiz to make your site’s look-and-feel match your vision.

Vulnerabilities are discovered quickly thanks to a wide user-base and dedicated open-source community. Patches are rapidly developed by a dedicated security team, and often released in the span of hours from the time they are reported. WordPress comes with an integrated core-update system, so patches are deployed at the click of a mouse. WordPress sanitizes all user input, restricts URL access, has an extensive user permissioning system, and never stores passwords in an unencryptable format. WordPress uses WordPress.com’s 20 million users to beta test releases before they come out, so that by the time new versions are released, stakeholders can be confident in their stability.