I’ve had some questions lately about how WordPress blogs work. I’ll try to explain the inner workings of WordPress as best I can and I understand that this is a very basic question. However, it is a question that deserves an answer.
In the “old” days, we coded everything in html pages that existed as files on our server. I started out using Frontpage from Microsoft and it certainly made short work of the coding part of putting a web page up. It was an early html editor with a wysiwyg (what you see is what you get) interface. Much like the interface of WordPress that I am currently typing this post on, Frontpage converted my typed text to html code with all the tags in just the right places. The tags tell your browser i.e. Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, etc., how to display your page. Bold, italics, paragraph indent, text size, etc. are all controlled with html tags.
When I made a page in Frontpage, there was a file full of code specifically for that particular page on my server. It “existed” somewhere. More recently, I had done some work with Adobe’s Dreamweaver which is basically the same type of program. It allows the creation of html pages through the use of a wysiwyg editor. I should mention that these programs also allow html coding to be done the old fashioned way by changing the interface to show the code.
Along comes WordPress and now anybody can put a blog up on the Internet with very little instruction. But WordPress is different. It doesn’t use hard-coded html pages, it uses a database.
As you are reading this, the page that appears on your computer screen doesn’t actually exist. Every single thing you see on this page is stored in a database, a kind of warehouse for Internet code. When you click on a post or page, WordPress creates it for you on the fly.
The header with the blog title and any graphics are pulled together from the database and displayed for you. The page template and style sheets tell your computer where to place everything from headers to footers to sidebars to the actual text you are reading. It’s like going to a fast food restaurant and ordering a salad, burger, fries, and a shake. The restaurant has to assemble your meal order for you from different places of storage within the kitchen. Some things, like the burger, require assembly of their own before they are included in the assembly of your order.
WordPress basically does the same thing. When you click on a link to a page or post or anything, you are placing your order and it is assembled from various storage areas in the database. It is a very streamlined way of serving web pages since it requires less room. Imagine your fast food place having a days worth of orders all sitting there waiting to be picked up. The orders would take up an immense amount of space and serving them would certainly be very inefficient.
The WordPress admin area provides an easy to use interface to create and save everything you wish to make visible on your blog or website. And the best part (well one of the best parts at least), is that it’s open source, free to use with many free theme styles and plugins available for all to use.
I encourage you to dive into WordPress and learn how to use it. How you use it is literally only limited by your imagination.