WordPress, poster child of the LAMP stack, turns 20

WordPress turned 20 over the weekend. Older than that, if you count the b2 codebase WordPress forked from. 20 years for a project is quite an accomplishment, but WordPress hasn’t merely survived for 20 years. The open source CMS powers a huge chunk of the Internet and has shown how commerce and community can coexist successfully for the long haul.

It’s hard to convey how impressive WordPress was when it was launched, if you haven’t dabbled with the CMSes of the time. By the time WordPress 1.0 was released, I’d fussed with static site generators (Blosxom), phpWebLog, and even Slashcode. Standing up a CMS on shared hosting was non-trivial.

Here was WordPress. Easy to install, easy to use, ran well on minimal hardware if you didn’t have heavy traffic, and entirely free. It was just a few steps and you could have a blog running in five minutes on a shared hosting account. You could have a site set up in an hour if you were happy with a stock theme.

It spread like wildfire. Early WordPress was primarily a blogging tool, but people loved it so much they kept bending it to other uses. It’s evolved to be much more than a blogging platform. (Whether WordPress should be used in every case is another discussion.)

It helped popularize the LAMP stack, and spread open source to audiences that otherwise wouldn’t have cared a lot about software or licensing. Blogging is not as popular as it once was, but WordPress is still going strong and if you need a simple web publishing platform, WordPress is there for you. If you want to DIY it, it’s easy to do. If you want to pay someone else for hosting and upkeep, you can do that too. There’s a whole community of providers who offer paid plugins and themes, or you can do it all for free if you have the know-how and are willing to apply the elbow grease.

I’ve tried many other platforms but I always come back to WordPress. It’s the right combination of ease of use, widely adopted, open, and functionality. Currently I pay WordPress.com for hosting, but I know that I can DIY it if I ever decide to do so. That freedom is important, even if I’m not currently exercising it.

Major kudos to the project and contributors. 20 years is quite an accomplishment. I can’t wait to see what the next 20 years is going to bring!

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