Almost 30% of the forum sites on the web are powered by a simple package called phpBB. This is a free and open source platform for anyone to download and start building a community based forum sites in minutes. If you are familiar with themes in WordPress, that’s the same stuff being called as styles in phpBB forum. The latest version 3.2.1 downloaded from the official site will have a default style called prosilver. This is the popular style you can see all over the internet like below.
Nevertheless, you can easily change the style or theme of your forum which we will discuss in this article.
Download Free Styles
There are plenty of free styles available for phpBB forum site. Go to the customization database and click on the “Styles” section under “Customize” tab. As you can see, there are 639 free styles available for download when this article was written.
You will see all the styles listed and showing the summary along with the supported phpBB version. Hover the mouse over the thumbnail and view the summary of that theme. Click the style you like to get more details like below:
- Contribution Details – under this tab find the details like author, published date, rating and category.
- Discussion/Support – here you can find the details related to support of the style.
- Demo – click on the demo and to view live demo of the style.
- Check the revision history and compatible version.
- Download the required version for your forum.
The demo tab will take you to the phpBB demo styles page where you can view different styles and download the required one.
Remember, not all styles are compatible with all phpBB forum version. Download the style which is compatible with your phpBB forum version.
Purchasing Premium Styles
Most of the free styles available in the official phpBB customization database repository looks similar. They are basically a variation of the default prosilver style. If you are looking for custom style for your forum then look for premium styles. One of the best place to look for is themeforest. Go to themeforest site and search for “phpBB theme”. You will find many themes like Milk and Flatboots.
Again, remember that you are not looking for a WordPress theme to get hundreds of results. You will only see handful of premium themes to choose from. Check out the live preview of each theme and buy the one you like.
Installing Styles Through FTP
Any customization to your phpBB forum site needs to be done through FTP account and Administrator Control Panel (ACP). Login to your FTP account using software like FileZilla. Unzip the free or purchased theme and upload the theme under “forum root/styles/” directory.
Don’t upload the zip file, only upload the extracted folder instead.
Installing Styles Through ACP
Now that you have uploaded the style, there are some more steps left to complete the process. Login to your ACP and navigate to “Customize” tab. Go to “Style Management > Install Styles” section. Here you should see the name of the uploaded style. Click on the “Install style” to add the style to your forum.
You should see the success message like below, if the installation is successful. If you have any problem with style installation, post your query in the support forums for free styles and get in touch with the author for premium style.
Activating the Style
After successful installation, go to “Styles” section to see all installed styles. In the below screenshot, you can see two installed styles. One is a premium flatboots theme from themeforest and the second is a default prosilver style.
Choose the style and click on the activate button. Otherwise click on the style you want to activate and then activate in the next screen. You can also uninstall any existing styles and preview the style before activating on your site.
- In phpBB, it is possible to have multiple styles activated at the same time. In order to choose a theme for your forum, you should either choose “Make default style” for one style or deactivate all other styles.
- Uninstalling styles will not delete the style from your site. You can simply install it back right from the ACP under “Install Styles” section.
Changing Back to Default Prosilver Style
At any point of time, you can change the style back to default prosilver style by making it default and active. If you have deleted the default prosilve style, download the prosilver special edition for version 3.2.1 from the official site. Or you can download the subsilver2 for version 3.1x or prosilver for version 3.2.x here. Follow the same steps as explained above to install and activate the default style