[ This is part 4 of an 8-part article – Read Part 1… ]
Diary-X was gone, but my Diary habit was well-developed, and I really missed it! I tried making my own site, but the dynamic nature of diary entries made it impossible for me, as all I had were HTML/CSS skills and no programming skills to make something work dynamically.
I tried a couple of different options for self-hosted installations of blogging software, and wound up liking WordPress best. WordPress is a wonderful, beautiful, clean blogging/content management application that gets installed on your own web server. It’s easy to install and has a web-based dashboard where you can write new blog entries with the newest entry appearing first on the front page of the blog. Every time you create a new entry, the new one appears on top, dynamically! It also automatically creates archives by month, categories, tags, etc.
The way WordPress does this is by combining HTML, CSS and a new (to me) ingredient: PHP. PHP is a programming language created specifically to affect, organize and render web pages in HTML and CSS.
So I had one more thing to learn! You don’t need to know PHP (or even HTML or CSS) to write entries in your WordPress blog. But if you want to configure or create your own theme and make customizations to widgets and the layout, understanding at least a little bit about PHP is necessary and a strong understanding of HTML and CSS is critical.
And I wanted to have my own theme for my blog. Boy did I! It was a pride thing – no pre-fab themes for this self-taught handcoder who works in notepad and considers Dreamweaver and Front Page to be products of the devil!
Anyway, struggling through, and eventually learning, the ins and outs of WordPress as pertains to PHP and paths to the theme and how the widgets and plugins work really started to give me an edge when it came to all things WordPress. I even gained some some web server knowledge and understanding that helped me troubleshoot some frustrating issues when it came to upgrades and other problems that would pop up.