phpBB has been around a long time and is one of the oldest projects on this list, On December 9th of 2000 the first 1.0.0 beta was released and since then phpBB has gone through several major versions. If you are curious about the history of phpBB the official site has an excellent article covering the early days through to the current version.
The install was fairly straight forward consisting of barely a few clicks and any admin that's done the basic preparation (created database, choose username/password, setup SSL) can be up and running within 5 minutes it's easy, that said it does have two annoying points.
The first is the install screen while granted not complex does require you to click the install tab which I honestly didn't notice. The second I consider a problem that should be dealt with better, the install folder is not automatically deleted and until you login to the AdminCP you won't be aware of this fact, not a deal-breaker just something I feel could be dealt with via a click to delete on the last page of the installer.
phpBB is highly configurable and in many ways is perhaps one of the most flexible web forums on this list, however, it's not short for options and this means that getting things just right can lead to you looking over hundreds of configuration options.
PhpBB has options for everything and permissions for those options and while everything has been thought out and placed in a logical area for a new admin to come in and figure things out it won't be a quick pick up and go.
Extensions / Styles
phpBB has its own databases for extensions and styles and both are filled with hundreds of free and functional additions and this has been true for phpBB for quite some time, the phpBB of old required hundreds of edits to be made for the best addons but in the modern era of phpBB is very much all done in an extension folder, likewise for styles.
Commercial options do exist and in general take your forum to that next level but you can easily get by with a simple off the shelf style or even modify the existing one.
phpBB has been around for a long time and is a huge project with millions of installs worldwide, it's easy to install, easy for the end-user to use and comes with near every feature you could want and more out of the box, however in offering everything it does offer a level complexity out of the box.
Although to the massive credit of the phpBB community they offer excellent documentation and numerous support options.
- Project has passed the test of time and continues to evolve
- A new modern default look is on its way
- Easy for the user to master and comes with a ton of built-in documentation
- Lots and lots of free extensions and styles as well as a healthy commercially supported product list.
- The default style does show the projects age a little
- Comes with perhaps too much out of the box for the minimalists.
- Installer could be made a touch easier
This post is part of our "best forums 2022" series, you can see the hub post here and you can also use that post for suggestions on other forums we should look into.
Otherwise, let us know what you think of our review of this forum in a response below, did we make a mistake? has it evolved in some massive way so needs a re-review?