Board to Death

phpBBFor several months, I’ve been working on and off in my free time on developing a small Web site for a shareware developer, and part of that process has, recently, entailed trying to construct a reasonably attractive user forum using phpBB. This free community software is impressively powerful, but after having spent several hours today trying to make sense of its template construction, I have to say that it’s a mess. Have a look at the source code on a phpBB board and you’ll see a soup of embedded styles and nested tables that is mind-numbingly confusing to get through, to say nothing of the style sheet, which raises organizational distraction to an art.

After much effort, I think I was able to wrestle the styles into a reasonably presentable shape, though because of the sheer effort, I had given up on the idea of trying to do anything remotely innovative with the layout. To be fair, I was editing the default templates, and if I had had the time to rebuild templates from scratch, I probably would have been much better off. Who has that kind of time, though? At any rate, I hope to reveal the fruits of my labor sometime this week



  1. A few years ago at a dot-com I was working for, we had set up an older version of phpBB as well. I was frustrated with it as well since you couldn’t alter the templates at all – you were only allowed to change the colours and add one graphic to the top. Definitely frustrating there.

    Yet at the same time – most people are so familiar with how a BB looks that it’s become a de facto standard look.

  2. I would agree: the look of phpBB has definitely become a de facto standard among bulletin boards. One thing I can say for the latest version of this software is that, if you had the time, you could probably get it to do some pretty neat stuff. I wish I had the time!

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