The 60 Second Guide to B2/Cafelog - Where WordPress Started
B2/cafelog is a simple, unmaintained, "classy news/weblog tool," created specifically for blogging. (It is also commonly known as just b2 or cafelog.) B2/cafelog is written in PHP and uses a MySQL database. It is licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL).
Today, it isn't really used. Yet it is one of the most important pieces of web software ever created. That's because it was the basis for WordPress — the most popular content management system in the world.
What was special about b2/cafelog was that it introduced a new concept: generating pages dynamically from the contents of the MySQL database. This concept greatly expanded the power of the blog.
B2/cafelog version 0.6 was released in 2001. After that, Michel Valdrighi continued his development work. Throughout 2002, he worked on created b2/cafelog version 1.0. And then, suddenly, in December of that year, he vanished.
Valdrighi's disappearance caused concern within the b2/cafelog user community. Many were personally worried. But there was a more general concern: there was already a sizable user base for the blogging platform, and there was suddenly no developer support.
Matt Mullenweg, a b2/cafelog user, was one of those troubled by the lack of support.
So in January 2003, Mullenweg came up with the idea to create a new platform by integrating the "cool stuff" in b2/cafelog and adding more features.
Since the source code of b2/cafelog was published under the GNU GPL, he could use it as the basis of his project. He posted the idea on his blog and soon saw interest from other people, like Mike Little.
Michel Valdrighi reappeared in May 2003. He explained that things hadn't been going well for him, "I am still jobless... This is the cause of much troubles in my personal life."
He also made a major announcement about b2/cafelog, "Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little are leading the new WordPress branch of b2, that is going to become the new official branch once they get a release out. If you want to help with WordPress, don't hesitate to contact either of them!"
By the end of May, the first version WordPress (version 0.7) was released as a direct successor to b2/cafelog version 0.6. Michel Valdrighi was a part of the WordPress development team until 2005.
B2/cafelog introduced a new approach in blogging tools. Using and displaying content from a database instead of static web content was a major innovation. Valdrighi also made an important decision to use MySQL for the database engine for b2/cafelog.
Using a database for storing textual blog content made implementing powerful search options easier. It also made displaying blog content using different themes possible.
Legacy of B2/Cafelog
In its short lifetime, b2/cafelog was implemented on approximately 2,000 web servers, and it served as a great platform for WordPress, demonstrating the power and flexibility of storing content in databases.
Although not nearly as popular as WordPress, b2evolution is another important and still active fork of b2/cafelog.
When Michel Valdrighi returned to the online world in May 2003, he noted, "With some of the money that I made by taking over the world (a small piece of it, for starters), I bought a digital camera, and proceeded to photograph various things. I hope to get better at it than I am at PHP."
He did continue to pursue photography. You can see some of his work on his blog.