New Website

I've made a new website, as is dead. You can find it here:—it's similar in format to, but has better articles, and they're all written by me.

JavaScript disabled

While it will still mostly work, a lot of this site's functionality relies on JavaScript - please enable it for the best experience.

Introduction to phpBB


History and future


phpBB was started on June 17, 2000 by James Atkinson who was planning to make a simple Ultimate Bulletin Board-like forum for his own website. Later, two other developers joined the team and the work on 1.0.0 began. phpBB 1.0.0 was released on December 16, 2000. During the development of this version, several more developers joined the project and the forum went through a huge improvement.

phpBB 1.0

In February 2001, the development of phpBB started again and phpBB 2.0 was released on April 4, 2001 (originally the developers planned to release it on April 1).

The improvements continued and in January 2005 lead developer Paul Owen announced that due to the lack of backward compatibility with phpBB 2.0.x the new version would be named phpBB3. Following seven months in the release candidate stage, phpBB 3.0.0 was officially released on December 13, 2007.

Source: and


Nils Aderman (naderman) assumed the role of Development Team Leader in January 2010 and the future is bright for phpBB with an open, community-focused method of development. In addition to the continued development of phpBB 3.0 "Olympus" and phpBB 3.1 "Ascraeus", planning has also begun for future releases 3.2 "Arsia" and 4.0 "Rhea".


A list of all the features can be found on the official phpBB website at:

Since the features are well explained on the official page, I'm just going to highlight the ones I think are the most important for an average person and the ones that make phpBB better than other forum systems:

  1. Written in PHP
  2. phpBB is an open source project, meaning that any developer can contribute to it
  3. phpBB offers a comprehensive Administration Control Panel which allows you to configure and customise nearly every aspect of your board
  4. phpBB is configured for over 100 of the most common spiders and optimises your board when they visit (good for Search Engine Optimization)
  5. phpBB offers a very strong Anti-Spam system
  6. phpBB follows the latest posting trends using BBCode, Smileys, Attachments and a lot more
  7. phpBB's look is fully customizable: download one of the free themes or design your own
  8. phpBB supports MySQL, Microsoft SQL, PostgreSQL, Oracle DB, Firebird and SQLite as database storage
  9. phpBB and the community offers thousands of free plugins that make customizing phpBB even more easier


An in-depth guide on installation can be found here


After installing phpBB (3.0.x), you will find yourself on the index of your brand new forum: phpBB index page

Note: you can test every feature mentioned in this guide at the demo page


Let's just skip to the Administration panel, where you can control your forums, members, plugins, styles and everything else! The ACP (Administration Control Panel) link can be found on the bottom of the page (after logging is as an admin user, obviously). To ensure only the administrators can log in, you must re-authenticate yourself and voilá, you are inside!

phpBB admin control panel

On the 'Admin Index' you can find the statistics, logs and some other actions you can do. On the top of the screen, below the phpBB logo you can find the main menu bar where you can switch between general administration categories. The default homepage is 'general'.

Pretty much everything is covered on the usage of the ACP in the documentation, so, again I am going to highlight the main features you must know about as a new forum user:

  1. General tab
    • Board settings: configure the site name, site description and other core settings
    • Board features: enable/disable core features
    • User registration settings: everything related to registration (e.g.:account activation)
    • Server configuration: definitely visit all of the pages under this category and make sure everything looks like you want it to look like
  2. Forums
    • Manage forums: add and remove forums and categories
    • Forum permissions: you can promote forum moderators here, change the user permissions and make forums available for a certain group only
  3. Posting
    • BBCodes: a lot of people don't use this page as they don't know what it is for, but it is very useful: you can create custom BBCode tags here, which will automatically be implemented to the forum
  4. Users and Groups
    • Every category is important here: "Manage users", "Manage groups"; ban e-mails/IP addresses
  5. Permissions
  6. Styles (more on styles later)
  7. Maintenance
    • Forum logs: Admin logs, Moderator logs, User logs
    • Database: Backup and Restore database
  8. System
    • Module management: enable/disable certain parts of the control panels and add new modules to the system

Installing styles

Please see as a reference/tutorial

phpBB style database

Customizing styles

As a basic guide, see the official tutorial at:

To learn how to install a custom theme and modify it yourself, see:

Obviously, you need to go through every CSS file to customize all the small parts you want to.


phpBB offers a wide variety of free modifications made mainly by the users, to enhance user experience. These modifications are easy to install, easy to maintain and easy to customize. Most of the plugins include a how-to guide, they should look like the one in this guide:

Plugin installation is made even easier, with a tool called AutoMOD. This tool is designed to parse and automatically install MODX MODifications for phpBB3. It also has the ability to uninstall MODs. All the MODs listed in the MOD Database (see below) do support AutoMOD. If you are interested in using AutoMOD, see this page.

Plugins can be downloaded from several sources, the official one can be found here:; but of course Google will help you find even more.

phpBB mods database


phpBB's system was continuously improved in the past few years and it is now known as the best free forum system. It has become open source and hundreds of developers are working on improving security and adding more features every day. phpBB's main opponents were SMF and myBB, but with the release 3.0, phpBB can compete with the non-free vBulletin and IPB forum systems.

If you want to have a secure and scalable forum system, phpBB is your best choice!

About Marcell Suhajda:

Marcell Suhajda is a Javascript/PHP developer working on small projects and experimenting with new technologies. He loves playing League of Legends and CoD.

You can view more articles by this author here.

Tags: phpbb introduction themes style installation administration guide


Callum Macrae says:

Thanks for the article, dida!

MBA Data Guru Blog says:

Great article, I will definitely us phpBB for my forums. I wish you had a little info on setting up phpBB to begin with and installing it.


Add comment


You can use markdown in comments (press "m" for a cheatsheet).

Enable JavaScript to post a comment

Markdown Cheat Sheet

# This is an <h1> tag
## This an <h2> tag
###### This is an <h6> tag

Inline markup: _this text is italic_, **this is bold**, and `code()`.

[Link text](link URL "Optional title")
[Google]( "Google!")

![Alt text](image URL)

![This is a fish](images/fish.jpg)

1. Ordered list item 1
2. Ordered list item 2

* Unordered list item 1
* Unordered list item 2
* Item 2a
* Item 2b

And some code:

// Code is indented by one tab
echo 'Hello world!';

Horizontal rules are done using four or more hyphens:


> This is a blockquote

This is an <h1> tag

This an <h2> tag

This is an <h6> tag

Inline markup: this text is italic, this is bold, and code().

Link text Google

This is a fish

  1. Ordered list item 1
  2. Ordered list item 2
  • Unordered list item 1
  • Unordered list item 2
    • Item 2a
    • Item 2b

And some code:

// Code is indented by one tab
echo 'Hello world!';

Horizontal rules are done using four or more hyphens:

This is a blockquote

Toggle MarkDown / HTML (t), full reference or close this