Aug 08, 2012 Posted Under:

The WordPress Elevator Speech

WordPress is enormously popular, but surprisingly has a long learning curve to “get” the architecture.

Its functionality is simple — show the results of a search of the website’s documents.  The search results are presented one-by-one in the loop.   The loop is the piece of code common to almost every template.  The templates specify how each item of a given search type will be displayed.

There is one primary item type, or object, in wordpress — the post.  There are many canned searches, presented as navigation lists like menus, category lists, and archive lists.  (Other objects are options, comments, links, users and taxonomy, terms and thir relationships.)

The page is a post with post-type set to “page”.  Pages are navigated differently from posts, mainly by becoming menu items.

Other post-types are revision, to support the undo functionality, and attachment, for images and other media.

There is gallery functionality to show a group of images on one post.

The confusions start to set in with the execution flow.  There are many actions, and many filters, and many action hooks and filter hooks (nearly 1600 hooks total so far) where your own custom coding can be inserted.

This fairly simple sounding structure supports an abundant and rich set of plugins, written by one of the largest open source communities of developers around.  There are almost 21,000 plugins so far.  A very common plugin variation is a theme, which collects an overall look-and-feel for the website.

Some plugin authors (especially of themes) try to simplify some of this complexity by hiding much of it under their own layering scheme.  This sometimes helps some of the newcomers, but usually ends up frustrating others when they try to find out what is happening in the modified structure.

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