WordPress is arguably the most popular as well as powerful CMS available for web development today and since its inception in 2003, the open source framework as gone from strength to strength on the back of some really convenient and easy to use features being added to it by a strong and large community of contributors. Majority of the world’s websites have been powered by the system and it will be worthwhile to take a look at some of the notable events in the history of WordPress that mark its rise.
2003-2004: The Beginning Of The Platform
In a post on January 24,2003, Mike Mullenweg shared that the B2/Cafelog software he used for blogs was not getting any updates and he wanted to create a fork of it, in order to keep using his blog. An English web developer, Mike Little responded to the young blogger and then both of them collaborated to create a new platform on the old software. On May 27,2003 the new open source product built on PHP and MySQL and licensed under the GPL was presented to the world.
It had the admin interface, templates and also generated XHTML 1.1 compliant templates and both the developers kept modifying it and initially the post editor looked like this :
On January 3, 2004 WordPress 1.0 was released which had the features of creating search engine friendly permalinks, user creation from admin, categories, comment moderation and a simple installation procedure. One of its most distinctive features, plugins was introduced for the very first time on May 22,2004 with Hello Dolly created by Mike Mullenweg being the first one of its kind. The open source framework got a boost that year when Movable Type, the popular publishing system of the time announced new pricing and licensing terms which were not received well by their subscribers and a lot of them migrated to the new platform.
2005-2007: the platform moves ahead
In the history of WordPress, 2005 will be a crucial year as during the course of these 12 months several developments took place which had the profound effect on the platform. On February 17, 2005 the theme system made its first appearance and Kubrick was announced as the default theme of the new WordPress 1.5 version.
Customization became even more trouble-free with themes and plugins as the user got the facility of adding design elements and functionality besides the convenience of conducting all changes at one place. The 2.0 version came out in December that year which had plugins for backups and spam apart from a completely remodelled and new admin dashboard.
A What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get-Editor which enabled the user to add categories or approve or delete a comment without leaving the editor made life easier for subscribers. This was also the time when a lot of programmers started using the framework for building websites and WordPress web development started getting recognition as a new field. Widgets came in 2007 which then were limited to adding functionalities to the sidebar and in that year all the plugins created by the community were assembled in the official WordPress Plugin Directory.
2008-2011: WordPress Becomes An Established Name
A firm Happy Cog was entrusted with the job of redesigning the admin user interface and after extensive research WordPress 2.5 was released in March,2008 but the overhauled version was greeted with the mixed response. This led to the Crazyhorse project which compiled all the complaints and assessed them to make the relevant modifications that were finally seen in the WordPress 2.7 version released in December,2008. The official Theme Directory also came into existence in 2008 which collected all themes after screening them thoroughly. Throughout the years of 2008 and 2009, various features like one-click updates, shortcodes, built-in plugin installation were added to the platform.
In June 2010 WordPress 3.0 was launched which possessed the feature of custom post types and the integration of the WordPress MU, the multi-user version into the core increasing the flexibility of the product. It’s user base was also augmented when Microsoft shut down its Windows Live Spaces blogs and migrated all the subscribers to the framework. Posts format which enabled the uploading of specific content types like images, videos, links etc. and admin bar were added to the dashboard in 2011.
2012-2015: The CMS Emerges As The Market Leader
The platform became the first choice of users during the period from 2012 to 2014 when many other functionalities like theme customizer and previews, new media manager apart from audio and video support were added to it. The automatic updates for minor releases were released in the WordPress 3.7 in October 2013. Two months later the admin interface got a complete overhauling and a new responsive interface named MP6 was launched.
The drag and drop facility for editing images, live widget previews, and audio playlists were the standout characteristics of the 3.9 version launched in April,2014. The same year saw the package being downloaded by more non-English users than English ones, emphasizing its global reach. Matt Mullenweg became the CEO of Automattic and the valuation of the company was a staggering $ 1.16 billion. 2015 saw the product further consolidating its position by acquiring WooCommerce, the most popular eCommerce plugin available on the platform.
2016- 2018 (Present Day): Going From Strength To Strength
In the versions 4.5, 4.6 and 4.7 that came out in 2016, the CMS built up on its core strengths and introduced a number of useful features like well-organized updates for plugins and themes, video headers and custom CSS for theme customizer. The next year, 2017 saw new widgets which enabled the addition of images, video, gallery, rich text, and HTML. The visual editor has remained the same so far and with these features, planning for a new editor started with the initiation of Project Gutenberg. The editor is expected to be a part of the 5.0 version which is due to release this year. A “Try Gutenberg” callout has been added to the 4.9.8 version to give the users a chance to sample the new block editor.
This brief history of WordPress demonstrates how through the foresight of one man, the consolidated efforts of people spread across the world has led to the development of a popular and trusted product.