Although there are several blogging platforms available to you, we’re mainly going to discuss the technology and coding behind just 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, Entouriste and Elizabeth Anne Designs.
What is WordPress, anyway?
WordPress is an open-source content management system. 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 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, 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.
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.
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 Chrome, Firefox, Safari, IE or whatever other browser you are using!
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.
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 the upcoming series of posts, we’re going to cover server needs, hosting basics, and the installation and basic configuration of WordPress.