Happy 10th Birthday WordPress

By Craig Buckler
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WordPress celebrated its tenth birthday earlier this week. Within that time, the PHP/MySQL open source product has grown from an obscure fork of b2 to become the world’s most-used Content Management System. The first edition was released by founders Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little on May 27, 2003. The impressive statistics:

  • the latest edition has 203,000 lines of code
  • WordPress 3.5 had been downloaded more than 18 million times
  • 25,000 plug-ins are currently available
  • there are 66 million known installations
  • WordPress is used on 66% of sites running a CMS
  • 15% of the top one million websites use WordPress … including SitePoint
  • one quarter of all new websites is based on the platform.

For web developers, the question has changed from “should I use WordPress?” to “are there any reasons I shouldn’t use WordPress?”

To celebrate the anniversary, WordPress meet-ups are planned in 656 cities around the globe.

WordPress 1.0

But It’s Just a Blogging Platform?

While WordPress has its roots in blogging, assuming it’s only for blogs is a like assuming YouTube is only for mildly amusing cat videos. There are two factors which separate WordPress from other Content Management Systems:

  1. it’s easy for content authors to use, and
  2. it’s easy for developers to use.

Yeah, But the Code’s Awful

WordPress was initially developed on PHP4 and, even then, the developers ignored many of the platform’s rudimentary object-oriented programming concepts. WordPress will never win awards for coding elegance but it’s straightforward and permits those with limited programming experience to create a working CMS-powered website.

In many ways, WordPress is a lesson to those of us who strive for code perfection: it may be unrefined, but it works and has attracted a huge community of third-party developers.

The Next Ten Years?

I encountered WordPress in 2004 following the release of version 1.2. It was revolutionary in a world where most web-based Content Management Systems were far to complex for the average user. It deserves its market share and it will be difficult for any other application to challenge WordPress’ dominance. (Ghost looks interesting, but so have many other platforms — and they weren’t attempting to use Node.js which is dwarfed by the availability of PHP).

WordPress has a bright future. It has its detractors, but remember there are two types of CMS platform: those which people complain about and those which no one uses.

Happy birthday WordPress.

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  • What a long way in 10 years with an impressive community, an increasing number of services. Do not forget that without Worpress internet probably would not like and much smaller number of sites, I think Worpress allowed to help communicate to many people. Happy birthday.

    • Possibly although, without WordPress, we’d probably be using Joomla, MODx or one of the many other CMSs available. But it’s certainly true WordPress has done much for the web.

  • Kenny Landes

    10 years is eons in cyber time, so this is certainly worth a cheer. WordPress is not without imperfections and maddening limitations, but it is my platform of choice, usually working with custom themes with few (if any) plugins. It will be good to see where it goes from here. Code can always be cleaned up, improved and optimized to make the platform better. That will be the ultimate test of WordPress’ success.

  • Andres Vaquero

    Been working for two months for this company that ‘used’ to like WordPress. I already had to unhack 3 sites including a company site. Now we are using Drupal because I’m here but also because it is much more secure. WordPress is great for what it is, but when you are trying to develop bigger and more serious projects you need to use better tools.

    • Hmm. Is Drupal more secure? Or is it less of a target? I’ve had a WordPress site hacked but you soon learn to dump the “admin” user ID, use a strong password, and upgrade when possible. There are also plenty of plugins which supplement security too.

  • Wow, I coulda sworn WordPress was older than that. Seems to me like it’s been around forever! But, I can’t really argue with the date.

    As far as coding is concerned, personally I think WordPress is a pretty nifty procedural/object hybrid. In many (if not most) cases you can get things done either way. As an “old guy”, I still think procedurally. I can do object coding, but I’m far more comfortable with the “old style” structured procedural coding.

    I guess I’m a relic.

    But, happy birthday to WordPress anyway!

  • jamie

    I never thought to look actually.. I am FLOORED that Sitepoint uses WordPress! I personally love WordPress to death but wouldn’t pick it for such a content-heavy site (I would use Drupal for that) – now I am very curious to see your WP build and how you are managing so much content with it. Impressive!

    Having said that though, WordPress is absolutely ideal for so many websites, and truly the limitation of a good WordPress build lie with the developer’s knowledge of WordPress and/or PHP. There are many impressive things I can do with WP that I know cannot be done nearly as easily (or at all) with most of the CMS I’ve encountered. It just keeps getting better.

  • WordPress is absolutely amazing. But what I’m also impressed with are the amount of companies that have extended WordPress even further to create a truly robust CMS platform on top of WordPress.

    Companies like Woo using their WooFramework, or plugins like Option Tree have really made it so that developers can easily build back end options for their end users to customize their own sites further than what is offered by the basic WordPress install.

    I’m glad there are people out there that are so much smarter than me. It makes my job that much easier.

  • WordPress forever perfect ;)