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What is phpBB?

This tutorial tells you about phpBB and how you can use it.

What is phpBB?

Quite simply, phpBB is a piece of software (or a large complex script) which, once installed is a forum. A forum is basically a method which allows users to register and post questions, their reviews or thoughts on their specified subject. Forums tend to be focused on a theme or genre to avoid spamming and content which is not relevant to the site/domain. Forums are usually found on websites to provide support for their products or services or to talk and discuss about specific themes such as search engine optimisation.

Why is it called phpBB?

As previously mentioned, phpBB is a piece of forum software. An acronym for forum is Bulletin Board or BB for short. phpBB is built using a server side language called Hypertext Pre Processer, otherwise known as php. Combining these two abbreviations together forms phpBB and turns out to be an easy to remember and relevant software name.

More information about phpBB

phpBB happens to be a piece of software released under the GNU General Public License. This means that it is an open source project that is free to run and use providing you keep appropriate copyright notices in tact. Being open source and released under the General Public License allows for three positive reasons to use it which are as follows:

  1. Allows you to modify the existing code in any way you wish. For example, if your website needed specific code which does not come with phpBB, you can add this code without violating any license.

  2. It is free. This means you do not have to pay for a license at all and is free forever or untill the license changes.

  3. The free nature of the project encourages authors and designers to create free code modifications and free styles / templates.

Features Summary

Below shows a simplistic list of features that phpBB version 2 comes with:

  • Unlimited forums and posts

  • Private or public forums

  • Search utility

  • Private messaging system

  • Multiple language support

phpBB 3 AKA Olympus has even more features that phpBB version 2 does not have including but not limited to:

  • File attachments

  • Customised BBCodes

  • Create unlimited subforums

  • Friends and foes

  • Warnings and reports

Programming Techniques

As previously mentioned, phpBB is built using Hypertext Pre Processor. Additionally, php utilises SQL or Structured Query Language to store, retrieve, update and delete information for the forum. Utilising PHP, allows the phpBB Group to give support for many database types including:

  • mySQL


  • SQLite

  • PostgreSQL

It is recommended however, that a combination of PHP and mySQL is used and these are the two applications that are usually used together throughout the web. phpBB has a very powerful feature. It allows to keep HTML and PHP completely seperate. This is done by a template engine and is beneficial for designers who are worried about messing up HTML or other code they do not understand.


To conclude, phpBB is a powerful, customisable piece of software which encourages your website visitors to keep coming back which is only beneficial for your website, products and services you may have to offer. It is however important that you keep your phpBB version up to date to ensure your website is not at risks from attacks because of security issues. Especially because phpBB is open source, hackers have access to all code and will jump at the opportunity to make use of a security hole. However, do not let that put you off – many “good” people also have access to the code who are always on the watch to constantly improve its performance and security.

What is phpBB?