It was five years ago today that Matt Mullenweg posted a link to download version 0.7 of WordPress, making WordPress publicly available for the very first time. Like the proud family it is, the WP gang is celebrating with a party in San Francisco tonight. A party I’d love to be at but won’t be since I have my own toddler to look after these days.
It’s no secret that Shiny New Toy loves WordPress. There’s really no other way to say it. WordPress powers this very blog you are reading now as well as our personal blogs. When we are working with our clients on web site projects, we’re almost always thinking, “OK, how is this NOT a project that uses WordPress?” I’ve said many times to the folks we work with that your blog makes a great home base to start participating online. Your blog can help hold your online life together and WordPress is the glue that keeps it from falling apart.
Holly and I discovered WordPress while we were working at NASA Ames Research. This was around the fall of 2005, when WordPress was still prancing around in diapers and sucking its thumb. Still, even as a kid going through his terrible two’s, you could see the potential in this ambitious little piece of open source software. WordPress hit Holly and I at a key time. We were responsible for managing a lot of web content at NASA Ames and were pretty fed up with spending our days editing HTML source code with a text editor to post the latest changes for the rest of the Ames workforce to see. Discovering WordPress and the content tools it provided was like tasting grape bubble gum for the first time.
For me personally, discovering WordPress came at an extremely critical moment in my professional life. I had recently completed a two years Masters of Arts in Multimedia degree. For an entire year, I was immersed in a single art project where the primary technical environment was Flash action script. While I had a wonderful experience, I came away wanting shorter term projects where the instant gratification level was higher. Similarly, the web standards movement was well underway and I drank (again) the Kool-Aid that emphasized web accessibility. Flash didn’t really fit into that very easily. But in finding my way back to the web, I also wanted to spend more time working with content features. I was now in that group of programmers that shuddered at the thought of having to build another authentication scheme and online registration experience.
Enter WordPress. WordPress allowed me to spend 5 moments and have login, registration, archiving, and searching already built for me. I could spend me time in content development and experimenting with WordPress plug-ins to extend functionality. The whole process was like discovering web building all over again.
So as WordPress turns 5 and amazes us with how much it has grown up, I can’t help but think what WordPress will be like when it turns 10 years old. Will the masses still be thinking of it as that upstart blogging platform or will it be viewed as a fully mature content management system? Will it still be in middle school or will it have fast tracked directly into advanced education? And will it eat brussel sprouts?