phpBB 3.0 Tutorial

phpBB 3.0 styles have 3 components: imageset, template and theme.
  • Imageset is a set of predefined images, such as "quote" and "edit" buttons, folder images.
  • Template is a set of files that contain HTML code for forum style.
  • Theme is a set of css files and additional images that aren't in preset images (imageset) list.
There are editors for each component in phpBB admin control panel. Important: DO NOT USE IT! Do not edit style components in admin control panel. Why? It stores a copy of files in database, which might get reset when you update forum and you'll lose all your changes.

That bad functionality has been removed in phpBB 3.1 along with imagesets.

Editing HTML and CSS files

phpBB templates use template syntax that most WYSIWYG editors do not understand: comments like <-- BEGIN something --> that start loops, variables like {SOMETHING}. WYSIWYG editors see them as errors and replace < and > with HTML entities &lt; and &gt;, resulting in mess. Some WYSIWYG editors also replace { and } with HTML entities. To make things worse, when editing header file some editors try to close tags that are supposed to be closed in footer, resulting in tags being closed at the end of header and messing up whole layout.

What to do: edit files in simple text editors, such as BBEdit, Notepad+, EditPlus. Do not use Dreamweaver or Expression unless you know how to set it up so it wouldn't mess up template syntax.

Uploading modified files

phpBB uses cache for compiled templates and theme. If you change something in template or css file and upload it on server, you might not see any changes. To force phpBB to recompile template files and theme, log into admin control panel, on bottom left click "Load settings", then find option "Recompile stale style components" and enable it.

That technical stuff is too boring, I fell asleep

Short version:
  • Go to admin control panel -> load settings and enable option "recompile stale style components".
  • Edit HTML and CSS files only in simple text editors, such as Notepad+, BBEdit, EditPlus. Do not use Dreamweaver, unless you know how to configure it properly.

If you have any questions or ran into problems, please post your questions on support forum.