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!