|Read more about this book|
(For more resources on WordPress, see here.)
WordPress is available in easily downloadable formats from its website, http://wordpress.org/download/. WordPress is a free, open source application, and is released under GNU General Public License (GPL). This means that anyone who produces a modified version of software released under the GPL is required to keep those same freedoms, that people buying or using the software may also modify and redistribute, attached to his or her modified version. This way, WordPress and other software released under GPL are kept open source.
Where to build your WordPress website
The first decision you have to make is where your blog is going to live. You have two basic options for the location where you will create your site. You can:
- Use WordPress.com
- Install on a server (hosted or your own)
Let’s look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of each of these two choices.
The advantage of using WordPress.com is that they take care of all of the technical details for you. The software is already installed; they’ll upgrade it for you whenever there’s an upgrade; and you’re not responsible for anything else. Just manage your content! The big disadvantage is that you lose almost all of the theme and plugin control you’d have otherwise. WordPress.com will not let you upload or edit your own theme, though it will let you (for a fee) edit the CSS of any theme you use. WordPress.com will not let you upload or manage plugins at all. Some plugins are installed by default (most notably Akismet, for spam blocking, and a fancy statistics plugin), but you can neither uninstall them nor install others. Additional features are available for a fee as well.
The following table is a brief overview of the essential differences between using WordPress.com versus installing WordPress on your own server:
|WordPress.com||Your own server|
|Installation||You don’t have to install anything, just sign up||Install WordPress yourself, either manually or via your host’s control panel (if offered)|
|Themes||Use any theme made available by WordPress.com||Use any theme available anywhere, written by anyone (including yourself)|
|Plugins||No ability to choose or add plugins||Use any plugin available anywhere, written by anyone (including yourself)|
|Upgrades||WordPress.com provides automatic upgrades||You have to upgrade it yourself when upgrades are available|
|Widgets||Widget availability depends on available themes||You can widgetize any theme yourself|
|Maintenance||You don’t have to do any maintenance||You’re responsible for the maintenance of your site|
|Advertising||No advertising allowed||Advertise anything|
WordPress.com (http://wordpress.com) is a free service provided by the WordPress developers, where you can register a blog or non-blog website easily and quickly with no hassle. However, because it is a hosted service, your control over some things will be more limited than it would be if you hosted your own WordPress website. As mentioned before, WordPress.com will not let you edit or upload your own themes or plugins. Aside from this, WordPress.com is a great place to maintain your personal site if you don’t need to do anything fancy with a theme. To get started, go to http://wordpress.com, which will look something like the following:
To register your free website, click on the loud orange-and-white Sign up now button. You will be taken to the signup page. In the following screenshot, I’ve entered my username (what I’ll sign in with) and a password (note that the password measurement tool will tell you if your password is strong or weak), as well as my e-mail address. Be sure to check the Legal flotsam box and leave the Gimme a blog! radio button checked. Without it, you won’t get a website.
After providing this information and clicking on the Next button, WordPress will ask for other choices (Blog Domain, Blog Title, Language, and Privacy), as shown in following screenshot. You can also check if it’s a private blog or not. Note that you cannot change the blog domain later! So be sure it’s right.
After providing this information and clicking on Signup, you will be sent to a page where you can enter some basic profile information. This page will also tell you that your account is set up, but your e-mail ID needs to be verified. Be sure to check your inbox for the e-mail with the link, and click on it. Then, you’ll be truly done with the installation.
Installing WordPress manually
The WordPress application files can be downloaded for free if you want to do a manual installation. If you’ve got a website host, this process is extremely easy and requires no previous programming skills or advanced blog user experience.
Some web hosts offer automatic installation through the host’s online control panel. However, be a little wary of this because some hosts offer automatic installation, but they do it in a way that makes updating your WordPress difficult or awkward, or restricts your ability to have free rein with your installation in the future.
Preparing the environment
A good first step is to make sure you have an environment setup that is ready for WordPress. This means two things: making sure that you verify that the server meets the minimum requirements, and making sure that your database is ready.
For WordPress to work, your web host must provide you with a server that does the following two things:
- Support PHP, which must be at least Version 4.3.
- Provide you with write access to a MySQL database. MySQL has to be at least Version 4.1.2.
You can find out if your host meets these two requirements by contacting your web host. If your web server meets these two basic requirements, you’re ready to move on to the next step.
As far as web servers go, Apache is the best. However, WordPress will also run on a server running the Microsoft IIS server (though using permalinks will be difficult, if possible at all).
Enabling mod_rewrite to use pretty permalinks
If you want to use permalinks, your server must be running Unix, and Apache’s mod_rewrite option must be enabled. Apache’s mod_rewrite is enabled by default in most web hosting accounts. If you are hosting your own account, you can enable mod_rewrite by modifying the Apache web server configuration file. You can check the URL http://www.tutorio.com/tutorial/enable-mod-rewrite-on-apache to learn how to enable mod_rewrite on your web server. If you are running on shared hosting, then ask your system administrator to install it for you. However, it is more likely that you already have it installed on your hosting account.
Once you have checked out your environment, you need to download WordPress from http://wordpress.org/download/. Take a look at the following screenshot in which the download links are available on the right side:
The .zip file is shown as a big blue button because that’ll be the most useful format for the most people. If you are using Windows, Mac, or Linux operating systems, your computer will be able to unzip that downloaded file automatically. (The .tar.gz file is provided because some Unix users prefer it.)
A further note on location We’re going to cover installing WordPress remotely. However, if you plan to develop themes or plugins, I suggest that you also install WordPress locally on your own computer’s server. Testing and deploying themes and plugins directly to the remote server will be much more time-consuming than working locally. If you look at the screenshots I will be taking of my own WordPress installation, you’ll notice that I’m working locally (for example, http://wpbook:8888/ is a local URL).
After you download the WordPress .zip file, extract the files, and you’ll get a folder called wordpress. It will look like the following screenshot: