Often times I am talking with clients explaining how I build websites within a WordPress based content management system. The topic of WordPress being “open source” often arrises and there can be some misunderstanding of what that means. The following is a brief introduction to both what open source is and how that relates to WordPress.
What Is Open Source?
Open source is a term commonly used to describe software or code that is publicly available and can be modified and shared around. Because it’s publicly available, this means that any person can get ahold of the source code itself and see how it all works at a granular level. Anybody can use it and make it better (or worse), and pass it around.
Is WordPress Open Source?
Yes, and specifically WordPress is licensed under the General Public License (GPLv2 or later) which provides four core freedoms:
- The freedom to run the program, for any purpose.
- The freedom to study how the program works, and change it to make it do what you wish.
- The freedom to redistribute.
- The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others.
WordPress says they want to democratize publishing with the, “The freedom to build. The freedom to change. The freedom to share.”
Does “Open Source” Mean That It Is Free?
While often open source software is free, this is not the implicit meaning of open source. In the case of WordPress; it is free and can be downloaded here: wordpress.org/download/
WordPress is free, and there are thousands of free plugins available. You can do so much making use of the free software. But there are premium plugins and themes which can be purchased which will add more features and functionality if needed.
If it’s free, why hire a web developer/designer?
Many people who want to have a website for the most basic of purposes and will do just fine by setting up their website all by themselves. On the other hand most of my clients want a website which is highly customized to suite their purposes in both design and functionality. The more customized a website needs to be, the more likely this is accomplished by hiring an experienced developer.
For further reading:
About WordPress Philosophy:
About WordPress License:
About The Open Source Initiative: