10 reasons why phpBB3 sucks!

I’ve been using phpBBv2 for a long while now, on quite a few sites for one reason and another. I like phpBB because it’s simple to use, for both users and admin. Things like the “ego search” are features I wouldn’t want to live without.

phpBBv2 was great, things like the templates, and installing mods was much to be desired, however workarounds appeared and we got used to dealing with them.

Upon the announcement that phpBB3 was coming out I got excited. Now usually I wait until the first bug fix release comes out before I start using the product, however I wanted to start a new forum, so instead of installing phpBB2 I decided to try phpBB3

This is what I found…

  1. Templates are now even more complicated
    • A new language was invented in earlier phpBB for templating. You MUST learn this in order to create templates. Why use this, when there’s a perfectly good one that we already know? …called PHP!
    • Templates are split into three sections now, templates, imagesets and themes.
    • Editing files outside of the admin area is just asking for trouble, as any changes will not be noticed, as the system caches them. This means I can’t use my favourite text editor to develop this site.
    • Flexibility simply doesn’t exist, you’re restricted by all sorts.
  2. It’s STILL not SEO friendly
    • We were promised that there would be native friendly URLs in this version, yet no such luck.
    • URLs are nasty, they could be so much prettier and descriptive.
    • Carrying around the SID in URLs is UGLY! Everybody has a cookies enabled browser these days.
    • Page titles are still horrible, including the “Index page”, very descriptive…
    • There’s too many links per page, it just causes issues.
    • No XML sitemaps?
  3. Modifications still aren’t any easier to add
    • Still not automated!
    • It’s now using MODX which is, instead of a bunch of instructions as it used to be, is XML based, which designed to be read by machines…
    • I’m sure most people would like to add in all sorts of gadgets and widgets, yet phpBB3 doesn’t have any such support!
  4. Still no RSS feeds…
    • RSS is a major part of “web 2.0″, yet phpBB 3.0 still hasn’t mastered them!
    • RSS feeds ARE NOT DIFFICULT, it’s just XML!
  5. HUGE footprint, is it really justified?
    • phpBB2 was about 2mb when it was extracted, this phpBB3 is about 5 times that at around 10mb, ridiculous!
    • So there’s a new admin control panel (ACP), there’s a new default theme which looks a bit nicer, but really what’s changed that much?
  6. Too many whining copyright notices
    • Shut up about copyright already!
    • If you’re that bothered about it, why don’t you make it a commercial product or get people to pay to remove the copyright and gain support?
    • You’re probably not really doing yourself any favours by having people link back, they aren’t exactly going to be quality links, because all the quality links remove it or use something else.
    • Nobody really wants to keep these anyway…
  7. Quick reply
    • A feature that vBulletin has, and does very well, yet phpBB doesn’t have it.
    • This is a feature you’d have expected they would have added as a native option, yet again no.
  8. HTML is no longer accepted in comments
    • Unlike phpBB2, phpBB3 does not allow the use of HTML tags in comments, forcing administrators of large phpBB2 systems with many pre-existing HTML links to choose between upgrading to the new software or preserving their existing links
  9. Unprofessional
    • phpBB has never had the look and feel of a professional product.
    • The general userbase of phpBB is unprofessional.
    • phpBB is not taken seriously in the money making world of web development.
    • There’s no option of professional support, it simply doesn’t exist!
  10. I hate it, but you love it!
    • Unfortunately phpBB is one of the few notable forums out there, nothing else works quite like it.
    • They pioneered things like bbCode which means users can add easy to understand markup to their comments.
    • The search is fantastic, better than any other forum out there, even vBulletin, it just works very well. Egosearch is also very useful.
    • It’s open source and GPL so it appeals to all the freetards out there.
    • Has support for multiple database management systems, including MySQL, Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, PostgreSQL, SQLite, Firebird, OpenLink Virtuoso, and other ODBC-accessible DBMS
    • There’s quite a large community that offer mods, styles and support.
    • It works! It really works! What can I say? I godda hand it to them for that.

Oh and also, It also sort of goes without saying that the spam situation since phpBB2 hasn’t gotten any better, but some kind of question appears to be the best solution to this, but it’s less than perfect.

In conclusion, I’m disappointed with phpBB3, I had expected more improvements, there was promises of search engine friendly URLs and automated mod installations, but we’re yet to see any of this… phpBB4 anyone?

Update: Don’t worry there ARE alternatives!

  • Comparison of Internet forum software on Wikipedia
  • PHP Forum software on the Open Directory

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  1. guest said,

    May 1, 2008 @ 3:13 pm

    but the most popular phpbb forum is out there —– http://www.warez-bb.com

  2. hacker said,

    May 1, 2008 @ 3:14 pm

    Just f*ck your a$$ mate{ your own } i love phpbb

    PS. I completely missed the point of this article, and am a complete idiot.

  3. xul76 said,

    June 7, 2008 @ 12:00 am

    one of the improvements is the search, finally your able jump to the permalink of any given post within a thread (so your not lost anymore if the search found a thread that spreads over many pages).
    you’re right on all accounts though…

  4. Jadestone said,

    June 17, 2008 @ 10:53 pm

    Being a programmer and a MOD author for phpBB2 i am very upset about phpBB3. I have put off and put off coding on it until a few days ago. As a programmer i can say phpBB3 is terrible, they over complicate their code and make you just through hoops to perform simple actions. Their coding guidelines are retarded and i love how you have to add the /*** @ignore**/ after your header in the php files… retards didn’t even think about their structure properly, document readers would read the code if you didn’t put the ignore there..

    I simply do not understand why they went this way… The system is not worth the changes. They have created an entire different product with less features in this programmers eyes. I will not make the switch and i will be supporting phpbb2 for awhile afterwards. I have copies of the latest release of phpbb2 and i do not plan on upgrading any time soon.

    I can program in their new system, i just think they took a giant step back instead of forward. the no HTML is a sissy way to go.. every other product out there lets you use it… they apparently have no idea what they are doing… Its like taking fire from man, i am convinced their programming team is a group of monkeys. They have maybe 2 or 3 things useful in the phpBB3 version that was not in the phpBB2. I also deal with SEO as my day job, you are correct, phpBB is terrible with SEO. There are MODs out there that help with that but you can only fix something so much..

    Now, since this is free software we don’t really have a right to complain… I, as an open source programmer, disagree. If you are releasing a product and stating how much better it is going to be, free or not, and you release a piece of garbage be prepared to take some insults.

    Sorry i was just working on their phpBB3 system and it is terrible so i had to get a little of it out.

  5. underground said,

    August 19, 2008 @ 1:30 pm

    it’s free what more can you ask for?

  6. nls said,

    September 20, 2008 @ 8:50 pm

    I agree above and believe that PHPbb3 is not too long to stay on earth. Poor user friendly, outdated even after phpbb3 is introduced. all developers including founders should suck eggs of wordpress and blogger founders.

  7. Softwares said,

    September 22, 2008 @ 12:13 pm

    I agree with all of your points,,Great article.

    PHPBB ofcource SUCKS

  8. Highway of Life said,

    October 6, 2008 @ 10:22 am

    1. Templates are now even more complicated.

    This is because of the expanded functionality within phpBB3, there are at least four times as many features and options within phpBB3 than were in phpBB2. Thus making the templates by default, a bit more complicated. However, the templates in phpBB3 are much easier to work with than in phpBB2, they also follow a better structure and far more normalised.

    This “language” is used for all MVC’s (Model View Controllers), Smarty is the most popular MVC, it has it’s own “language” but is far less efficient than the phpBB3 templating engine, and is also more difficult for most programmers to learn. Even the simplest of HTML stylists prefer the phpBB3 templating tags over using PHP or Smarty markup.

    Templates are split into three sections for the following reason: If you design a new style, you do not have to create all new imagesets or themes, you can create a new style that perhaps is just a few changes to the theme, and it will inherit the template files from the default template set. This makes it far easier for style designers to only release actual changes to a style from the default, and only release imageset packs, for example, again, making phpBB3 far easier to use for style designers.

    Editing files is best done on the filesystem NOT the administration area, however, editing these files is possible through the admin area, I do not recommend it. phpBB3 has a “template refresh” option which easily refreshes the templates. They can also automatically refresh with a config option set in load settings.
    All of the above is done for maximum flexibility within phpBB3.

    2. It’s STILL not SEO friendly

    This is not entirely correct, first of all, phpBB never promised that there would be “SEO friendly URL’s” included in the phpBB3 package. Yet regardless, SEO is not restricted to ONLY SEO friendly URL’s.

    SEO Friendly URLs are mainly for the purpose of human readability, the dynamic URLs are actually much easier as a navigator, and don’t affect search engines either positively or negatively.

    SIDs in URLs are required for several reasons, first, if cookies are disabled, or if the admin cookie settings are incorrect, the board automatically appends the SID to the URL to retain the users session properly. The second reason is when performing actions such as logging in, or logging in to the administration control panel. The SID is added for extra security measures. If you view the SID everywhere you browse, it is likely because your cookie settings are incorrect and need to be fixed.

    Many people don’t realise that phpBB3 does not display exactly the same to humans as it does to bots. These “extra links” are there for added usability, but for bots, the “dead” links, such as profile links, memberlist links, and individual post links are removed because they are not needed for search engines.

    XML sitemaps are not a standard, but they are extremely simple to add as an Add-on. Remember that phpBB3 began development over 5 years ago, back when XML sitemaps were barely being conceived. Still, most sites do not utilise this very wonderful functionality.

    3. Modifications still aren’t easier to add

    Modifications are a bit easier to add in phpBB3, with more unified instructions using MODX, as well as the phpBB3 being much better code-wise, employing very powerful OOP PHP, modifications are now even easier to add and manipulate, meaning less edits, fewer compatibility issues, and maximising scalability.

    No, unfortunately MOD installation is still not automated, although this is generally requested by those who can’t stand looking at code in the first place. Regardless, phpBB is creating an automated installer known as “Blinky”, which is in public Beta and can be used in it’s current form to install MODs. Blinky is used by the phpBB.com MOD Team to test all MODs submitted to the Modifications Database.

    MODX was the desired choice to improve the ability for auto-installers and generators. And it is easily human-readable with the included XSL XML Stylesheets, you simply open the MODX file in your browser and it gives you a nice graphical layout with instructions for installing the MOD as well as where to locate support or contact the MOD Author.

    phpBB3 employes a new Modularised system for the Administration Control Panel (ACP), Moderator Control Panel (MCP), and User Control Panel (UCP), this enables users and MOD Authors to easily add additional modules to phpBB3 without editing a single file, simply drag and drop new module files into the module directories, enable them in the ACP, and bingo! you have new modules!

    4. Still no RSS feeds…

    Yes, unfortunately RSS Feeds do not exist in phpBB3 by default. Again, phpBB3 began development over 5 years ago, and it was decided some time ago to exclude RSS Feeds to hasten the delivery of phpBB3 gold to the public. Fortunately, there are several very good RSS Syndication MODs available in the phpBB.com Modifications Database as well as those being developed. Very easy to add your own. Which is the beauty of phpBB3, providing a light package that is not bloated like many other types of Bulletin Board software, while giving the users the easy ability to install one of thousands of available Modifications for phpBB.

    RSS Feeds will be included by default in the next new version of phpBB 3.2

    5. HUGE footprint, is it really justified?

    People want every feature including the kitchen sink, and then expect that phpBB3 is going to be as small or smaller than phpBB2. This is just not going to happen everytime you include dozens upon dozens of new features. The overall package size is going to be bigger.

    2 Styles included instead of one, far more features, these are all going to make the package size much bigger. But considering the number of new items added in phpBB3, it’s a wonder it is as small as it is. And compared to all other major Bulletin Board software on the market, phpBB is the smallest default package. Again, if people want all the features, they can’t expect the package size to be small.

    6. Too many whining copyright notices.

    It amazes me to see people complain about having a copyright there for a FREE product! This is meant for giving credit to the dozens of individuals who have poured HUNDREDS of hours of their free time into developing a product that you can use and bitch about.

    7. Quick Reply

    phpBB is not in a competition with any other bulletin board software, and as such, they do not care what features other bulletin boards have or do not have. phpBB makes their own decisions including adding or excluding features based upon what the developers feel is best for the product, for the community, and for security. Not everyone will agree on every feature, and it just so happens this is one of those features.

    Again, dozens of Quick Reply MODs exist for phpBB3 that are even easier than ever to install due to phpBB3’s much better code layout and backend.

    8. HTML is no longer accepted in comments

    phpBB does not have “comments”, they are known as posts, or replies. And yes, HTML is not allowed for a very good reason. HTML proved to be a rather major security issue within phpBB2. Administrators were enabling very vulnerable HTML tags that users could and would easily exploit to gain sensitive information or hack the Board. Since phpBB is the most popular Bulletin Board Software in the World, it was determined to remove this feature for the protection of phpBB’s users, the users of the phpBB installations, and the servers on which the Bulletin Boards were installed.

    9. Unprofessional

    phpBB is now used by more corporations than any other Open Source Bulletin Board solution. The reason is the professional look and feel of the phpBB3 layouts and the customisability of these designs and layouts.

    A Professional look and feel is generally based on opinion, and differs from one individual to another. phpBB knows that you cannot please everybody, so they have created a product which is easily expandable and modifiable, making phpBB3 extremely easy to transform into any existing website or layout that the administrator/user desires.

    Because phpBB is an Open Source and free product (GPL), phpBB’s largest userbase is going to be those who are not willing to spend any money on a bulletin board solution for their site, thus phpBB will have a larger userbase of non-professionals. If phpBB were not free, I very much doubt this would be the case, but since it is free, it is open to everyone, even your neighbourhood kid who mows your yard every week can go start their own clan bulletin board and run it just like any of the big boys. This of course makes many adults quite jealous. :)

    10. I hate it, but you love it!

    You can’t please everybody, that’s obviously a recurring theme. And phpBB, being the most popular Bulletin Board Software in the world, is going to have a LOT of people they have to try and please. phpBB aims for the greatest common denominator, this is not going to agree with every single person, but you can only do so much. :)

    11. The spam situation has not improved since phpBB2

    Actually, this is not true. phpBB3 has far more and better spam fighting tools than phpBB2 and all the combined MODs for phpBB2.

    These spam fighting tools include such items as the GD advanced CAPTCHA, that to this date has not been proven to be broken by any automated CAPTCHA-cracking bot (automated spam system). When this advanced CAPTCHA is enabled (requires the GD PHP Library), it decreases spam registrations by 90%

    Better Moderator Tools, you can now mass-move posts from a single user, moderators can be given permission to immediately ban users, more editing, moving, merging, splitting tools make spam handling much easier. And of course the invaluable word censor… turn your favourite spam phrases into comedic phrases that will turn spam into halarious posts entirely eliminating the effectiveness of the spam posts. On the boards that I have applied this concept to, it has decreased spam by 99%

    I will not reply to any comment related to this comment, if you would like to discuss anything here with me, please visit phpBB.com and look for Highway of Life.

    Have a great day. :)

  9. Angelo said,

    December 14, 2008 @ 6:27 am

    You know, after an entire code rewrite, they really showed their cards as developers. You’d think they’d have figured out that they need to make things a little bit more modular and stop making people actually edit code to install plugins. And no, I don’t mean automate the installation–I mean do the work to actually redesign it with a plugin api. They also got kind of lazy with their MODX format by not providing any real tools to write the format easily.

    I agree with most of your comments, but I think phpBB2 is pretty bad too. It might score a few points against 3 in some areas, but the real reason it was so great is because it was a feature-filled, open source application before there was much of any choice. Still it isn’t bad, but I think they could have done better when going to 3.

  10. Angelo said,

    December 14, 2008 @ 6:30 am

    Oh and…

    Highway, if I ever get into a conversation with you on the phpbb forums, I’ll make sure to insist you come to another site in order to do any further discussions.

  11. Logan said,

    February 19, 2009 @ 8:02 pm

    I’ve been using PHPBB3 for a while now and really don’t understand the bitching, I think it’s easy to add mods and change styles.. I quite like PHPBB3 and don’t plan on changing it to anything else, honestly even if i was given VBulletion I wouldn’t use it..

    So please stop the nonsense and understand that PHPBB3 is one of the best in the world for a reason and can’t wait till PHPBB4..


  12. Highway of Life said,

    February 25, 2009 @ 2:39 am


    That was a strangely short-sighted reply by yourself. First of all, a blog is not a discussion forum, believe it or not.
    Second, I do not get reply notifications for comments to this blog, so I’m not going to know if anybody has replied. Seems you didn’t know that, but WordPress does not notify commentaries when a reply has been made. phpBB and other Bulletin Boards do. There is no way I can carry on a conversation with someone through blog comments.

  13. Enter7ainer said,

    March 13, 2009 @ 7:34 pm

    I agree… phpBB3 is a pile of shite — but i beats having the DMCA on your arse about copyright infringement!! (lol)

  14. TAZ said,

    March 22, 2009 @ 9:32 am

    phpBB3 not for NOOBS :p

  15. Ivan said,

    April 29, 2009 @ 2:25 pm

    Everybody is looking for a forum that is easy to use. Why the fuck they always make things complicated?

    Once I posted at the forums about Quick Reply. The just said “we wanted phpBB core to be light.”, “Quick Reply isn’t necessary.” Fuck that light and unnecessary. Do we really need to mod it the hard way to get a basic feature? Shit.

  16. Dss said,

    May 19, 2009 @ 2:13 pm

    After ripping my hair over some really dumb “Features” of phpbb3, I have to agree

    1. With a community and history behind it, and early addons like EasyMod… there is no excuse why they shouldn’t have one of the best mod systems and largest community base of addons. SMF has topped ALL other forums with their addon system, and its not even that complex.. its almost silly.. a simple xml parser and some simple php commands to extract and copy files or add edits to an existing file.

    2. Web 2.0? Why do I have to click so much? Deleting a post->redirects to a confirmation page->redirects to the “deleted,…. return to last forum” page->Finally gets me back.
    SMF has a simple alert box.. “Are you sure you want to delete”.. ok.. deleted and returns back to the current page.

    3. No multi-line url or bbcode effects… this is something that smf also suffers from.. vBulletin is the only one that has this figured out properly.. but still.. you pioneered the damn languaged and it works the worst in phpbb.

    Its just as clunky as its ever been.. it took SOOOO long for phpbb2.2… then phpbb3.. and its really not impressive after waiting so long. Hopefully you can get phpbb4 to be a bit more year 2000

  17. Robin Chang said,

    May 30, 2009 @ 2:03 am

    I’ll quickly add that a good “Prime Quick Reply” mod for PHPBB3 has been available quite recently. While it’s true that code-diving is needed to properly install the add-on, it’s quite robust once it’s working.

    I’ll admit, I spent one frustrating morning debugging a botched install of “Prime Multi-Quote”, but once it was fixed, I realised that it was an excellent learning experience, being able to see how modifications interact with core codes.

    Finally, while it’s annoying to find style templates very complicated to work with, again, it is because each style has different ways of working with the same information. Sometimes some of the features aren’t available for all styles.

    In summary, those who think PHPBB3 should be a walk-in-the-park to mod need to realise that there is no such thing as a one-package-fits-all deal with free forum engines – if you need extras, you’ll have to work for them.

  18. John said,

    July 11, 2009 @ 4:40 pm

    The overall PHPBB3 look and feel has deteriorated, so did the design. The phpBB2 design was nicer.Some people think the design got better, but I don’t think so. After installing PHPBB3 on my site I hated it and abandoned it .I’m going to PAY but get a good product. I would go with phpBB2, but since it’s outdated now I have no choice, but to abandon phpBB.

  19. John said,

    July 11, 2009 @ 4:44 pm

    P.S. Why couldn’t they made the “new” version” as ALTERNATIVE version like phpBBa and phpBBb so we could choose which one we want to use and both would be equally updated.

  20. Johnson Jonesworthy said,

    July 19, 2009 @ 1:59 am

    #1. I used to use Smarty and the like for websites but I inevitably always found that you never got the full functionality of PHP that you sometimes needed and it took three times as long as simply coding it in PHP in the first place. I can understand there are security reasons why you’d want to use a template system and if that’s the case, you’re going to have to learn that template’s language but for most applications it’s not necessary.

    #2 is an example of how phpBB seems to always be about 3 years behind the 8-ball. When phpBB was built, it was one of few free forums and it had a lot of functionality for its time. Today, other free packages abound and they do it all better than phpBB. I actually moved most sites I run to SMF (a wonderful free forum that doesn’t have half the issues of phhBB) and haven’t gone back (the SSI features are great). The defense for not having SEO urls boils down once again to “phpBB’s old-fashioned way of doing things” and you either like it or lump it.

    #3 They are actually. I poked around with the automated system and it’s pretty neat. Being able to make small changes quickly and easily to files through the admin panel is also handy (though I wouldn’t recommend it). Most other forum packages have had an automated “click here to install” option for mods for a few years now and it’s nice that phpBB finally got one too.

    #4. Yep, once again, phpBB is 3 years behind the 8-ball on basic functionality. “Oh, but there are mods that do that!” you’ll no doubt be told. Constantly installing mods is what made me come to loathe phpBB in the first place.

    #5. Yeah, she’s a little heavy considering the amount of basic functionality she’s missing.

    #6. It’s from the phpBB group! What did you expect? ;) At least they let you change the FAQ now without having to edit raw files! (Yet more basic functionality that came with a “well it’s about time” sigh).

    It may seem small but #7 is actually the reason why I haven’t bothered with phpBB3. Once again, phpBB are behind the 8-ball. It’s a little red warning flag that said to me “We are stuck in our ways. There is our way to do things and if that’s going to take more clicks than it should, than you have the problem, not us!”. I got sick and tired of upgrading phpBB2 with every security update and then having to re-install all the basic functionality mods afterwards. Upgrades either involved pouring through code for a few hours doing a manual upgrade because the mods you installed to make the thing worked necissitated it or sometimes re-installing everything from scratch and re-doing all the mods again manually, only in order to have anything other than basic forum functionality.

    #8 annoys me to no end. We had a CMS that used HTML on the front-page (kind of necessary on the internet). A test upgrade to phpBB3 meant anything posted through the CMS wouldn’t display properly in the forum because it couldn’t parse HTML. That means more coding and more modifications to get basic functionality. How hilarious that HTML, the language websites are built in, can’t be handled by phpBB. Apparently because some retards mis-use it, everyone else has to suffer.

    #9. That’s why vBulletin exists. phpBB isn’t supposed to be professional. If you’re serious about your website, you spend a few bucks and get a vBulletin license with all the support you can eat (and a tonne of features that work right out of the box). phpBB is for the free-ware crowd who like to poke around and play with things. It’s why I started on it. ;) It’s why I moved on from it. phpBB is a good forum for mucking around with code-wise but when you finally reach the point that you start getting serious about it and no longer have the desire to spend a weekend making your forum work, you either move to another free-ware forum or get vBulletin.

    #10. It’s true, nothing else does quite work the way phpBB does.There is some other stuff that works a lot easier. ;) As I’ve said, SMF has become my new favourite, though MyBBoard and Phorum were fun for a time.

    re Spam: Hands down the best mod ever for stopping spam was a question mod made for phpBB2 (pretty sure it’s available for phpBB3 now as well). It allows you to enter questions a human being has to answer on registration. Things like “According to this forum thread [link] what does user X think about Z?”). Captcha images are a God-awful idea and whomever thought of them needs to be shot. They may make it harder for machines but they also make it harder for humans. Nobody wants to have to try several times because they mis-read your strangely curved letters that had been layered over a background of noise that make it impossible to read. With the question mod, all spam attacks were stopped on a forum I run that used to get 20 or more spam registrations a day without any Captcha and at least 5 a day with Captcha enabled. I wished they’d added it as basic functionality however everyone still seems stuck on stupid images that are difficult to read.

    #phpBB4? Sure if you want to wait another 10 years for functionality that other free-ware forums have available right now.

    The one last thing I’ll say is that whenever you raise any of these issues at phpBB, you get a bunch of screaming fans shouting “Oh but there are mods!”. I want to install a forum package that works out of the box, not have to install a bunch of mods that almost make the actual forum software itself incidental. As I said, it’s great fun if you’re in the “I want to spend a weekend mucking about with code” group but if you want a forum that works, look elsewhere. True, no off-the-box forum has everything you want but I’ve found phpBB always needs a lot more coding than other packages in order to get it right.

  21. Pigeon said,

    October 31, 2009 @ 9:25 pm

    I run forums in both phpbb2 and phpbb3. While I don’t agree with all the criticisms of 3 here, 2 is definitely nicer than 3.

    The permissions control system in 3 is horribly complex and difficult to use. The phpbb3 forum has several different hidden sections accessible to different groups of users and we’ve had a lot of problems with users being able to see sections they’re not supposed to be able to see because it’s such a bugger to get the permissions set up right. The other admins on it tend to pass all the permissions-setting tasks to me because they can’t understand the system, and I find it a brain strain myself.

    The page code produced by 3 is very bloated and slow to render. The rendering speed can be somewhat improved by turning off javascript – but unfortunately most of the ACP pages require javascript, and these are some of the biggest pages. So a lot of ACP tasks are infuriatingly tedious. I shouldn’t need a Cray to get decent rendering speed.

    A further problem with the ACP is that several pages are too wide to fit in 1024×768, and moreover they display without any horizontal scroll bars, so necessary controls disappear off the right hand side of the screen unless I frig about.

    Another problem is that it has been written to produce pages in XHTML, for no reason, since XHTML is not actually required to display such pages. The problem with this is that the retards who wrote the XHTML standard removed the target=”_blank” attribute and seem to think that javascript is an acceptable replacement, so phpbb3 is afflicted with javascript for opening external links. This is no bloody good at all. For one thing it is desirable to turn off javascript to improve rendering speed, as I have mentioned. We also have users who disable javascript as a matter of course anyway. And for some reason the javascript for opening external links is unreliable and causes problems even to people using completely vanilla setups. Fortunately all browsers seem to still honour target=”_blank” in XHTML pages so I have sacrificed formal validity in favour of usability and got rid of the javascript.

    The code for 3 is many times more complex and difficult to understand than 2. Coding for 2 is a lot easier than coding for 3.

    Mod installation is easier in 2 than in 3 because, as mentioned, the mod authors for 3 present the instructions in XML files and refuse to provide plain text versions. This means I have to use a browser to display the instructions in a legible form. I can’t just do “less foo.txt” in a terminal window any more. Also in the case of mods which require changes to the database, there is an unpleasant tendency to provide some semi-automated means of making the changes… which wouldn’t be so bad if mod authors didn’t _only_ provide that form and decline to also provide instructions for making the changes by hand from the command line.

    It is however a good thing that we are not yet afflicted with automated mod installation because if we were you can bet your boots that the mod authors would not provide any instructions for doing it by hand at all. The more the installation has been modified from its out-of-the-box state the less likely it is that an automated system will be able to correctly handle it. When the modifications include our local one-off hand-made alterations to the code as well as “official” mods, it is almost certain that an automated system could not be guaranteed to work correctly.

    Upgrading to new releases is an example of how automated methods fail – doing it “by the book” simply wipes out most of our local changes. It is necessary to diff all the new versions against the old ones and implement the required changes by hand, which may be tedious but does at least avoid breaking things.

    Lack of HTML support is not a disadvantage. The phpbb2 installation has it turned off anyway: it is a security hazard and it is not a useful feature in the first place. Any formatting that needs to be done on a forum post can be done by means of bbcode; if it can’t be done with bbcode it shouldn’t be done at all anyway.

    Nor is the lack of “quick reply” a problem. How hard is it to click the “reply” button? A half-arsed reply feature with most of the facilities missing for people who are too lazy to click the “reply” button isn’t something to lose any sleep over.

    As for SEO… there is an excellent SEO resource for both 2 and 3 at http://www.phpbb-seo.com/ – we don’t need it on the 3 installation, but the 2 has it installed and it works very well. The same site provides XML sitemap mods.

  22. twistah said,

    November 30, 2009 @ 8:14 am

    Im currently running a huge SMF board but is on the lookout for a more complete platform with better integration options.
    I was so dissapointed when I figured out how phpBB3 handles “mods”. As you said in “#3. Modifications still aren’t any easier to add”, is just wrong, wrong, to let people read XML and do the job of manipulating critical source code. Not only that, it is just plain bad design to have to change the source code to change behaviour. How about a decent plugin architecture? Other forums have it. For me, this was a clear sign of why I should NOT install this software. Free or not, there are better alternatives out there…

  23. bob said,

    April 4, 2010 @ 9:33 am

    I made more themes for phpbb2 than any other theme maker and i totally stopped when phpbb3 came.
    I hate the whole system TBH – and yeah the footprint is way too big, the admin area has far toop many minor options too.

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