phpBB Forum Hosting Review
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What is phpBB Forum Hosting?
In June 2000, James Atkinson created phpBB as a software program to help his wife run an online forum. Later that year he released it for public use and it quickly became popular. With the addition of developers Bart van Bragt and Paul S. Owen, phpBB2, phpBB version 2.0.0. was released in April 2002. The latest version of phpBB2, 2.0.23, was released in February 2008. Meanwhile, phpBB3 was released in Beta format in March 2007, with the latest version being 3.0.5, released in May 2009.
Thousands of web sites use phpBB forum software to run online forums. It is compatible with most web hosting plans and has a large online community offering support and extensions.
What features does phpBB offer?
There are currently two versions of phpBB forum software, phpBB2 and phpBB3, which offer some different features.
The features offered with phpBB2 include:
- Installation wizard to get you started
- 50 languages, including multiple languages
- User preferences
- Moderation and administration
- Unread message tracking
- Private messaging
- Flood Control
- Word Censors
- Search system
- User signatures, avatars, ranks, and preferences
- Group types
phpBB3 adds new features and security controls:
- UTF-8 Support
- Search engine spider handling
- Warnings and suspensions
- Oracle, firebird, and SQLite data management
- More control over usernames and passwords
- Posting attachments
- Quoting multiple posts
- Advanced polling features
- Active/new topics searches
- Groups can have multiple leaders and customized colors and avatars
- More features for moderators and administrators
- 61 languages, including right to left support
- Update and converter wizards
- CMS software and XHTML compatibility
For forums, phpBB3 adds features such as password protection, subscriptions, forum specific styles, sub-forums, and sorting by topic and post.
End users of phpBB3 also have more control over their account, including a friends and foes list, bookmarks, private messages that can be sent to multiple recipients, blind carbon copies, forward messages, and drafts.
phpBB3 no longer supports MS Access data management or HTML in posts, which are features available in phpBB2.
The web site for phpBB offers lots of help for people wanting to use phpBB forum software. This includes information on how to customize phpBB forum software, and online resources for help, including documents, tutorials, support forums, and realtime IRC chat support. Support is also available in several foreign languages, including Spanish, German, and French. Forums are also available to stay up to date on the community and share your own modifications or learn about others'.
Both version of phpBB have lots of MODs, or users modifications, available for download and use with the phpBB forum hosting program.
Pros and cons of phpBB software
The pros of phpBB include it's long history and large following, which are a sign it will probably continue to exist and offer support in the future. The availability of realtime IRC support is a very useful features for open source software. phpBB offers many features that forum owners are likely to find useful, and the MODs add further to the functionality of phpBB.
There are a few drawbacks to phpBB. One of these is that the forum posts are flat instead of threaded, which means that reading through the posts can be confusing or jumbled if users don't quote the posts they are replying to. There is no calendar feature for groups to keep track of events, nor is there a what you see is what you get (WYSIWYG) editor that allows users to see exactly how their posts will appear before they post them.
How do I get started with phpBB?
To get started with phpBB hosting, you will need an account with a web host that supports phpBB. Luckily, the requirements for running phpBB are not difficult to find:
- Any major OS that supports PHP
- PHP 4.3.3 or higher
- An SQL database: MySQL 3.23 or higher, Firebird 2.0 or higher, MS SQL Server 2000 or higher, Oracle, PostgreSQL 7.x or higher, or SQLite 2
It is also helpful, but not necessary, for the web host to support:
- zlib Compression
- Remote FTP
Once you have a web hosting account that meets these requirements, you can download and install phpBB, using the available online support to get started, if necessary.
Visit the web site for phpBB forum software at www.phpbb.com
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