Open Source At Its Best
WordPress is an open source content management system. As an open source platform, It is free to use and licensed under GPLv2 (or later) license. Wordpress is one of the largest collaborative projects on the web, developed and maintained via a community of developers, not a company.
The project began in 2003 simply to enhance typography for everyday blogging. Today, the platform is used to develop websites for millions of companies including Fortune 500 companies including Best Buy, Xerox, Sony, Target, UPS, and Walt Disney.
Content Management System
A content management system is fairly well self-defined, but what’s really going on. At the root of a CMS is a database. This is where all the ‘content’ is stored. In essence, it is very similar to a spreadsheet, simply a collection of tables that contain rows of data organized into columns. Now data (or content) is important, but the true power comes from the ability to interact with that data dynamically; organizing, reorganizing, combining, selecting, excluding, etc… dependent on the needs of the user. A CMS does exactly that, it is a user friendly tool in which one can interact with the database. It provides various filters to categorize and view the content in the database, and it provides methods to add, update and delete content from the database.
Taking It A Step Further
WordPress is indeed a CMS, except it differs from the rigid example given above and also allows its users to openly (remember open source) edit and/or add to the code that is responsible for the features it offers. As such, it becomes a platform to build upon, and that is exactly developers use it today.
Enhancing A Language
WordPress is not written in its own language, it is written primarily in PHP. However, instead of being limited to the functions and methods native to PHP, WordPress defines its own functions, methods, classes, global variables, etc. As such, developing a website or web application on the WordPress platform offers developers tools they would not have outside the environment.
Using WordPress Vs. Developing With WordPress
Can WordPress be used without understanding programming languages like PHP? Absolutely, and a lot can be done without any coding experience whatsoever. However, true power and freedom comes from the ability to develop inside the WordPress environment vs. using its native CMS features. Let’s take a look at an analogy. I love Legos, and love to build freely with the famous connecting blocks as my creativity sees best. Now, imagine if you could only use legos to build exactly as the instructions demonstrated. Would they still be cool? Absolutely, but their popularity would be nothing in comparison to what it is today. Think of WordPress in the same manner, using WordPress as a developer is much like building freely with a set of legos. You get to take something that is COOL and then make something that is ORIGINAL and AWESOME.