phpBB is one of the popular forum software available for webmaster. After buying hosting service, you can install phpBB using one-click installers like Softaculous. However, you have to customize the styles and install extensions to make phpBB forum the way you want. Other than those free styles (themes) you can find from the official website, there are not many phpBB themes you can find on the marketplaces. Flatboots is one of the premium phpBB themes and here is a review whether what you will get with the theme.
Related: Review of Milk phpBB theme.
Flatboots phpBB Theme Features
Flatboots is a premium phpBB theme based on the popular Bootstrap framework. You will get the following features:
- Responsive theme made with Bootstrap 3.3.8
- Custom header and footer with Twitter integration
- Theme is available for all phpBB 3x versions
- Custom fonts and colors
- Lazy topic loaded to show relevant topics on bottom of the forum
- Font awesome icons replacing topics and posts status.
- Free extension and add-ons
- Community support
Sitesplat is the developer of Flatboots theme and offers the theme through envato’s themeforest marketplace. The theme has 3K sales on the marketplace with almost 5 star rating from 500+ users. It will cost you $27 for purchasing the theme that includes life-time free upgrades and six months of free support.
You can pay additional $8.33 to get extended one-year support.
Downloading and Installing
After purchasing the theme, you can download from the marketplace. The package contains files for all phpBB 3.x versions. You can use the version as per the version installed on your site.
Installation of Flatboots theme has multiple steps:
- Style: upload the “FLATBOOTS” folder under “MAIN_THEME” folder in your site’s “/styles/” directory using FTP. Go to Administrator Control Panel (ACP) and install the style under “Customize > Style Management” section.
- BBCore: unzip the “BBCore” archive file available under “Documentation” folder and upload under “/ext/” directory of your site. Go to ACP and enable the extension under “Customize > Extension Management” section.
- You can find free and premium add-ons from the developer’s website and install on your site similar to BBCore extension.
After installing Flatboots style and BBCore extension, your site will have a skeleton framework without content as you can see in their demo page.
You can create forums and manage administrator and moderator stuffs from phpBB control panels. However, changing the header, footer, colors and other stuffs need access to FTP account. Unfortunately, you can’t modify the framework elements from control panel. For example, here is how you need to modify the header text that shows “Bootstrap Framework 3.3.x”.
- Login to your server with FTP account and locate the “header_teaser_body.html” file.
- You can find this file under “FLATBOOTS/template/addons/” folder.
- Edit the file with your favorite text editor like Notepad++ or Brackets.
- The file will show the following content.
As you can see, there are placeholders to bring the content from the translation file. The theme needs the BBCore extension to have these placeholders. Finally, you have to open the “BBCore.php” file under “/ext/sitesplat/BBCore/language/en/” directory and replace the placeholder’s content with your own.
Flatboots comes with custom CSS file, again you have to insert CSS codes to overwrite the default settings. For example, you have to define the custom color in the CSS file to change the look for your theme.
The author quotes the theme is “Remarkably Easy and Fun to customize” in themeforest product page. This is completely wrong as you have to find the html template and customize the settings for logo, Twitter integration, social icons, colors, footer, etc. In our opinion, new users will get lost with this and we wonder why all these stuffs can’t be done from ACP like Milk theme.
Flatboots theme comes with the related topics extension called “Fancy Lazy Topics Loader”. This will help you to show related topics above the footer area of your site. You can customize the extension settings under “ACP > General” section.
Except this extension, you have to go the developer’s website to find other add-ons. In total we can find more than 60 add-ons available in the developer site’s marketplace. There are free add-ons for chat, breadcrumbs and categories. However, many are premium add-ons that you have to purchase again for additional price.
For example, you have to buy “BBSidebar” add-on for $11 in order to add sidebar to your theme. Probably, you will end up spending $100+ to setup your site.
Fortunately, Flatboots theme comes with a decent documentation in English and Spanish. The truth is that you can’t customize the theme without reading the documentation supplied with the theme purchase. In addition, you can get the support from themeforest as well as by registering an account in developer’s site. The community based forum support will help to check the previous issues and get resolution quickly.
The good part is that the author updates the theme to support latest phpBB versions. However, the customization needs you to play around with CSS and update the content in different template files using FTP. This will be a difficult task for new users who prefer to manage things through control panel. In addition, you have to purchase premium add-ons even for the basic features making the theme costlier than other available themes. We recommend this theme if you are an experienced user with higher budget.
- Good looking with neat layout
- Less image replaced by font icons
- Good community based support
- Bootstrap 3.3.8 is obsolete years back
- Complex customization process by editing template files
- Basic features like sidebar needs premium add-on
- Similar BBoots theme offered by same author
- We do not see any SEO option advertised as SEO powerhouse.