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“The software is copyrighted, but instead of using those rights to restrict users like proprietary software does, we use them to ensure that every user has freedom.”
– Brett Smith, A Quick Guide to GPLv3

Last week, I compared the process of building EdNC.org to building a house. This week, I want to go a little deeper and talk a little bit about the future of the website.

Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 1.09.01 PM
A slide from my 2013 conference presentation about the ubiquitousness of WordPress and its capabilities.

EdNC.org is built on WordPress, an open source project originally created as blogging software. It quickly gained in popularity and recently has bloomed into a full content management system offering endless possibilities.1 Because WordPress still has publishing at its heart, it is the perfect platform on which to build a heavily article-driven website like EdNC.org.

WordPress is licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL), an open source license that posits four freedoms that every user of the software should have:

  • “the freedom to use the software for any purpose,
  • the freedom to change the software to suit your needs,
  • the freedom to share the software with your friends and neighbors, and
  • the freedom to share the changes you make.”

Under the terms of the GPL license, any work that is derived from the original work inherits the GPL license. That means that all of the freedoms listed above apply to the source code for the EdNC project.

All of the code that was used to build the WordPress theme for EdNC.org is publicly available for free on GitHub. As we continue to build and expand our website features, the code in the repository will be updated.

By the community

Everyone is invited to contribute to help improve this project. As important as it is for EdNC to be a community of voices around education, it is just as important for our platform to be a community project. I could not have built the website alone and am so thankful for the advice and contributions I received over the last few months.

There are many ways you can contribute:

Many features are planned for the future – several of which are rolling out very soon, like the post archives and issues pages – and there will always be more work to be done. That’s just the nature of maintaining a robust website.

If you decide to help with writing code, the theme for EdNC is built on the Sass fork of Roots. It uses Grunt to compile the code. See the project’s README for more information and feel free to get in touch if you have any questions.

For the community

We at EducationNC all know how hard it is for nonprofits to afford and maintain a good web presence. Many have to scrimp and save just to obtain a meager budget to hire a freelancer or agency to design and build their website. This is usually done over many years. Once that process is complete, they’re left on their own to maintain it with whatever internal resources they have.

It was important to us from the beginning that the work we do here would be available to help other nonprofits.

While it is not possible to simply copy our website to your own and have it function perfectly, the files in our GitHub repository are accessible to any developer to replicate layout and some features. The theme files contain all of the code for the visual layout of the website. All of the plugins used on the website for various functionality are included in the repository. Please feel free to use any and all of our code to enhance or improve your own websites.

Show 1 footnote

  1. In 2013, I presented a talk about WordPress’s history and capabilities at WordCamp Raleigh, a WordPress conference: http://www.slideshare.net/AlisaHerr/jailbreaking-wordpress-final
Alisa Herr

Alisa Herr is the former chief technical officer of EducationNC.