What Is WordPress Anyway?

Although there are several blogging platforms available to you, we’re mainly going to discuss the technology and coding behind one of them here on Edit and Post, and that is WordPress. WordPress is currently the most flexible and powerful option out there and it’s the platform I use for Edit and Post and Elizabeth Anne Designs.

WordPress is an open-source program.  Open-source means that the code for the software is freely provided and can be altered and built upon by anyone.  Why is this cool? Because that means there are thousands upon thousands of people working every day to enhance WordPress’s functionality by creating themes and plugins to be used with the basic code (we’ll chat more about themes and plugins soon!).

WordPress requires a MySQL database to run, along with a web server.  Your WordPress database is made up of several tables.  Each table holds a specific element of data, such as your posts, blogroll links, comments, and settings.  Your web server holds your image files, theme files, plugins, and WordPress admin files.  You can think about things this way: if you upload it, it goes on your web server.  If you write it or input it, it goes into your database.

How do the web server and database talk?

They use a language called PHP.  Every time WordPress needs to “get” something from the database, a PHP script is run.  There are several default PHP functions in WordPress, and you can also create your own.

PHP = “get”
Want to get the post title? <?php the_title(); ?>
Want to get the content? <?php the_content(); ?>
Want to get the author? <?php the_author(); ?>

Depending on the data you are gathering, the WordPress PHP function may default to “get and display” or simply “get”.  Both are useful!  We’ll talk about PHP a lot more in the future, but for now, just remember that PHP is how WordPress gets data from the database.

How does the PHP function turn into results?

After the web server has received data from the database, it turns it into HTML.  HTML is the language that your browser uses to display a website.  An example:

In WordPress, I have a PHP function that says: <?php the_title(); ?>

Once my web server has processed that script for the post you’re currently reading, the database will return : What Is WordPress Anyway?

The web server then displays to you: What Is WordPress Anyway?

You never see the PHP script and neither does Firefox, Safari, IE or whatever other browser you are using!

How do I style those results?

You make HTML look pretty using a language called CSS, which stands for cascading style sheets. 

CSS tells your browser how to format things (fonts, colors, margins, spacing, etc).  CSS is very flexible, and you can style different elements of your page with different CSS markup.

Where do I put my PHP and CSS code?

Your PHP and CSS code goes inside your WordPress theme.  Simply put, your theme is how you want your WordPress data displayed to the world.  Several themes are installed with WordPress, and customizing your own theme is something that we’ll talk about in detail.

In this series of posts, we’re going to cover server needs, hosting basics, and the installation and basic configuration of WordPress. And don’t forget, if there are specific things that you would like me to cover, comment or contact me to let me know!

8 responses to What Is WordPress Anyway?
  1. Brit writes... {March 1, 2010 at 9:13 am}

    Great post, Ami! We use WordPress for many of our clients’ sites at my day job. It’s a great content management system!
    .-= Brit´s last blog post: diy handkerchief invitations =-.

  2. I am new to blogging and am just learning to navigate wordpress. I think your posts on the subject are wonderful and I can’t wait to learn more! Thanks for all the help. I know I need it and will be applying what I learn from you.

  3. I’d really like to learn how to have two different blogs running on the same URL. Such as you’ve got going on EAD… I want to keep my personal/life/home posts separate from my weddings posts but still have them on my blog for those who are interested in it…

    PS-LOVING this new blog!! How great of you to share your expertise with others- you rock!! :)

    • Ami writes... {March 6, 2010 at 8:31 pm}

      hi my dear! i can absolutely do a post on this, but the short answer is, i have two separate installs on EAD, one on /living and one on /blog. pretty easy to set up, although you do have separate plugins, etc, to maintain. which actually works well for me since they have different functionality.

      let me know if you want more details on that, happy to do a full post!

  4. I’m looking forward to learning more about coding and customizing WordPress blogs. I have another project up my sleeve and would love to be able to customize something myself, like you have done for your blogs. Again totally impressed! :)
    .-= Catie Ronquillo´s last blog post: Red Velvet Review: Sprinkles Cupcakes =-.

  5. My husband is in Marketing/PR but also codes and does websites. I’m going to start learning all this stuff and then shock him with my knowledge of the “code.” I call it the Matrix when I see him working on his websites.
    .-= michelle @ blissful musings´s last blog post: Thank-You to C&B and the Mailman =-.

  6. I am so happy/thankful to have found you! Thank you for taking the time to educate us non-techies. This stuff is fascinating to me.
    .-= Claudia Bravo´s last blog post: METROPOLITAN / MARKET =-.

  7. Hi Ami,
    I found you thru I Am Style-ish. I’m SO glad to have happened upon you:) Finally, a step by step I can understand. Thank you, thank you!!!!
    Kerry

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