Smilies (or emoticons) are far from essential for a phpBB forum, but they add some variety and humor while allowing posters to express themselves in different ways. I find having a variety of smilies a great addition to any board, but if you get too many they quickly become an unorganized mess. This article is a write-up of some of the tips and tricks that I’ve employed to allow me to add a lot of smilies without letting them get in the way.
When you add smilies, you have the option to display them on the posting page or on a secondary page. I would recommend displaying only the frequently used smilies on the posting page and moving all other smilies to the secondary, pop-up window. Every time a user makes a new topic or a reply, these images would have to be downloaded. If you have a lot of smilies on the posting page, it can also easily start distorting the layout of the page, especially for people with small monitors or low resolution.
Instead, for individuals to get access to the full treasure trove of your smiley collection, they’ll have to click the View more smilies link below the displayed smilies. It’s a minor inconvenience but a fair trade-off.
Clicking this window will generate a pop-up window 300 pixels wide and 350 pixels tall. But there’s nothing to keep this window from just being row after row of random smilies. At any point, you can go into the Administration Control Panel and rearrange the order of smilies by telling each individual smiley what it comes after.
In this default pop-up, phpBB will automatically put as many smilies as it can fit on a row and wrap to a new line any that don’t fit. With this observation in mind, we can create a smiley of our own that is just the right dimensions to cause a line break. As you can see from the screenshot below, I have added multiple smilies of my own with the dimensions of 250px x 20 px. This causes a line break and no other smilies appear on this line. I then made categories like General, Heroes, Games, Food, and Misc each with their own color. To do this, just create a new image with those dimensions using your favorite image editor, like Paint.NET. Save your image as a .gif or a .png and add it as a smiley. When you add the smiley, place it where you want it and organize your smilies beneath the division accordingly. Users will be able to click on these images you created to be able to insert them into the post, but there’s no real down-side to that.
Another solution to help organize your smilies comes in the form of a phpBB3 mod called Smilies Categories. You can install this mod to your forum and be able to create categories and sort smilies into multiple categories.
With the mod installed, the next time you add smilies, you’ll be able to assign them a category in the ACP under Posting, Smilies. You can also create and manage your categories in the ACP under Posting, Smilies Categories. You can also modify existing smilies to put them into categories by just clicking the green gear in the row of that smiley.
Now, when you click on the View more smilies link when making a post you’ll see a little drop-down box allowing you to see only select categories of smilies. The normal view remains by default and is the first to load. With the drop-down you simply select the category you want to see and the items will be filtered down.
If you’ve liked any of the smilies you’ve seen in the screenshots here, you can download the collection. It includes 300+ smilies and the .pak to import the smilies easily into your phpBB3 board. Unfortunately, the smiley category mod does not work with the .pak import, so you’ll have to categorize them manually.
Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other tips and tricks up your sleeves. And, of course, don’t forget to smile!