Through the years, WordPress has evolved into a powerhouse CMS. With its roots in blogging, it has turned into a major content management system that is flexible and extensible to do anything you could dream of.
WordPress 1.0.0 was the initial stable release of WordPress. Never before had anyone seen a tool that is so powerful and easy to use. We look back at it now talking about the ugly green color of the default theme and the very basic dashboard, but it truly was a work of art at the initial release, shaping everything that we enjoy now about WordPress
While not much in appearance changed (it’s still the same ugly green color), WordPress did gain the plugin functionality that we all rely on today. Plugins could not yet be downloaded directly from WordPress through your WordPress dashboard, but they could be uploaded to the plugins directory from any outside sources.
Not only did it include plugin support, but it also included sub-categories, thumbnail support, MD5 hashed passwords, and importing via RSS and Livejournal. WordPress 1.2 was truly the start of the matured product that we know and love.
In WordPress 1.5, the ugly green color was removed and replaced with a very pleasant blue theme that we can remember being active for some time. Static pages could now be managed allowing WordPress the become more of a CMS rather than just a blogging platform. In addition to the new default theme, the theming system had a complete overhaul and allowed for much better customization.
As for the WordPress admin, it was outfitted with a dashboard section which displayed all of the current WordPress news and blog activity.
WordPress 2.0 added a wealth of features in this major release. Inside it, included a more attractive dashboard with a splash of color. Authors are now able to use the rich text editing tools because of TinyMCE implementation (which is still used to this day), upload images on the fly, and plugin developers got plenty of love on this release. Not only were there plenty of changes to the front end to make users’ lives easier, but the back end was fully overhauled to help the server load strain.
There were so many awesome features introduced to WordPress on the 2.0 release that if we were to name them all here, it would take up more space than the whole article as it is now. Reading the release notes even now makes me excited.
WordPress 2.1 sports very subtle appearance changes, but there were plenty of changes in functionality. The most notable that many still heavily rely on today is the autosave ability. Prior to 2.1, you had to save your work constantly. As the autosave feature was introduced in WordPress 2.1, your information was now saved periodically throughout the progress of your update. Other features that we also take for granted such as the ability to set a page as the home page, AJAX for custom fields, the upload manager, and database optimizations were also put in place to enhance the overall experience. This was also the first version that you can remove the ability for search engines to index your site during the setup process.
This release didn’t change a lot of things, but it did add support for widget areas within themes which is still something we heavily rely on today.
WordPress 2.3 brought several new features to the table. One of the best, being the update notifications. Not only did it bring notifications of WordPress core file updates, but also plugin updates as well. Unfortunately, you couldn’t update directly through the dashboard just yet, but you at least knew when it was available. WordPress 2.3 also brought new content management tools like improved draft and post management, as well as advanced editor buttons within TinyMCE.
Use pretty URLs? Well you can thank WordPress 2.3 for that as well. Without them, search engines would surely hate our WordPress sites.
In WordPress 2.5, the appearance of the dashboard got a overhaul and search functionality got added for both pages and posts.
In WordPress 2.1, the autosave feature was introduced but in WordPress 2.6 it was further extended by adding the ability to review previous revisions. While these revisions could not be edited or published, they can be views to find out what was changed since then. In addition to this change, many other subtle changes were added such as the Press This bookmarket, gallery sorting, and an update to TinyMCE 3.1.
In addition to these user changed, developers also received new paths that can be defined within the wp-config.php file to define various content and plugin directories.
In WordPress 2.7, we saw a major change to the WordPress admin. This change is quite similar to what we now see today. WordPress 2.7 also introduced one-click plugin installs as well as one-click updates for both plugins as well as the WordPress core. Comment threading and pages were also introduced transforming WordPress further into the CMS that we see today.
While changes in WordPress 2.8 were much more subtle, it did include a new drag and drop interface for widgets. Just like the plugin installation feature was added to the WordPress admin in 2.7, themes can now be browsed for and installed within the WordPress admin as well in 2.8.
Users of WordPress 2.9 were now immediately prompted to change their randomly generated password when logging in. When deleting a post, page, or comment, it would now be delivered to a trash folder instead of immediate deletion. In addition to these features, there were also several behind the scened such a adjustments to link tags, another TinyMCE update, and consistently displaying comments by date.
WordPress 3.0 was the first version to allow your password to be set during the setup process as well as it introduced a brand new default theme. The theming API was dramatically changed, support for custom menus, shortlinks, and custom header/background APIs. WordPress 3.0 certainly unleashed a wealth of new features for both the user and developer.
In addition the all of these changes, WordPress MU was also merged into the main WordPress distribution.
WordPress 3.1 introduced many things to help with the administration of individual pages and posts. The most noticeable being the addition of the admin bar to the top of the site when logged in as an administrator allowing individuals to update their posts quite easily while browsing their site. Also included is an internal linking system to easily search for a post and directly link to it right from within the post itself. Custom post and content types were also introduced to allow theme developers to insert pre-made styles.
The WordPress 3.2 update came a bit faster than usual being only 4 months since the previous update, but packed a slightly redesigned dashboard, as well as the new Twenty Eleven theme as default. In addition to some changed design elements, it also included a new full screen editor, extended the admin bar, and enhanced compatibility with both user browsers, and optimization changes on the server side.
WordPress 3.3 focused on making WordPress more user friendly for beginners. This included easier file detection on uploads, the drag and drop uploader, a redesigned toolbar and flyout menus in the admin, new feature pointers to get users pointed in the right direction, and many other features that we still see now. WordPress 3.3 further enhanced the ability to make WordPress extremely user friendly.
WordPress 3.4 focused more on refining themes than any other feature. Here, we saw the theme customization tool to easily modify particular parts of a user’s chosen theme. Custom headers and backgrounds were also placed within the core WordPress release without the need for any plugins.
With the release of WordPress 3.5, we saw support for the Apple retina display, as well as the new responsive Twenty Twelve theme. The Twenty Twelve theme was the first to natively support mobile layouts and looked great for any blog. The Media Manager was also introduced which gave WordPress users and excellent experience allowing them to manage any media files all from within a single intuitive interface.
While the front end was most noticeable, the back end received a new welcome screen, and better accessibility for screenreaders, touchscreens, and keyboard users as well.
The most immediately noticeable change in WordPress 3.6 is the inclusion of the new Twenty Thirteen theme. Aside from this, UI improvements were made to the navigation menus screen, revisions were further optimized, a preview feature was added to the media edit screen, and an in-line login was added for any expired sessions.
WordPress 3.7 introduced the ability to automatically update their sites which was much needed by both users and hosts alike. The automatic update feature has been, by far, one of the best features introduced in several years. In addition, a new password strength meter was introduced as well as improved search features.
WordPress 3.8 inroduces both a fully redesigned front and back end. It is now sleeker, and fully responsive allowing for an optimal user experience. WordPress 3.8 not only looks beautiful, the internal code has been further optimized making it one of the greatest updates to date, truly making WordPress a work of art.