phpBB 3.1.0 is a release for the popular forum software that has been a long time coming. Currently in release candidate 2, the final version should be available soon. I downloaded phpBB 3.1.0 RC2 and installed it to a beta site to see the new features and to allow the community that I run to check it out.
phpBB 3.1.0 modernizes the software and catches it up in many areas. As a result, the requirements will also become more modern with at least PHP 5.3.3 and newer versions of PostgreSQL, MySQL, MSSQL, and other DBMS. Any decent hosting should meet these requirements just fine. Reading between the lines, another change that I see is that the phpBB development team is simplifying a lot of things in order to make the project more maintainable. I applaud them in this effort as it should allow the big features to get attention and updates to become faster and more adaptive. The transition might hurt if you or your community was a fan of the features relegated to the site but overall the project should benefit.
After playing around with the 3.1.0 RC2 release, the biggest improvements to highlight include:
Mods are out, extensions are in.
Major changes to the core code is no longer necessary as extensions are more integrated to the system and are much easier to install.
My forum will lose its chat on the homepage and the Open All Unreads in a single click mod I made years ago. Like the phpBB team, I’m ok with simplifying the code base so updates are easier and more predictable. I think I might have already found an extension that might nearly take the place of the Open All Unreads mod.
Timezone/Daylight Savings Time
The system is finally smart enough to adjust DST on its own, assuming you set a timezone/city in your user settings.
The forum looks great on a smartphone now and avatar images automatically resize if you have a smaller screen instead of covering the text.
Multiple file uploads
File uploads are improved with Plupload to allow multiple files at a time and smarter attachment handling.
phpBB 3.1.0 RC2 was released on July 11th. You can read the full details in the Changelog or download the latest release to check it out yourself. The following screenshots should give you an overview of some of the new look and feel when phpBB 3.1.0 feature release.
It’s pretty similar to version 3.0.12 but you will certainly notice some changes such as the Quick links and the Notifications, which will give you pop-ups to unread messages to subscribed or bookmarked threads.
The topic page gets overhauled with some refresh to the look, particularly if you’re an administrator or moderator with the extra buttons. Avatars now scale a lot better with the new Prosilver phpBB style.
The Prosilver style is responsive, so it looks good even with low width. The avatar scales to above the post instead of overflowing the text. If you can’t tell, this is the feature I am most excited about.
Styles are getting a refresh with 3.1.0. Subsilver is getting kicked out of the default styles. All community developed styles should be derived from the responsive Prosilver. You can check out more styles with the Styles in Development forum, including my own contribution of Plosirvel, to tweak Prosilver so the user profile is on the left of the topic instead of the right.
Time consuming and update-breaking modifications are a thing of the past. Extensions are easy to install within the Administration Control Panel. Extensions are uploaded to public_htmlext[name space][mod name]. Finding out the name space to use has been a little inconsistent from the extensions I’ve tried
Some of the extensions I like so far are:
I took the Prosilver style and tweaked some CSS to move the profile to the left side of posts (swapped ‘r’ for ‘l’ in the name as well). Complaints about the profile being to the right was the top response I got showing the beta to my community. This didn’t change with 3.1.0 but I had previously customized our forum to return profiles to the left side. Now that I’ve squashed that complaint, hopefully they can appreciate the other new features like notifications and the responsive layout.