In the first two posts of this series I went through the feature list comparing phpBB2 with phpBB3 from the list posted at phpbb.com. I then included notes discussing which new features for phpBB3 I had covered already by adding MODs. At this point the score is 1-1, based only on my needs and use of the code. This is the third post in that series and I will cover the Posting, Attachments, and Caching feature categories.
As a disclaimer: this post is not intended to be a criticism of phpBB3 in any way. It is simply a way for me to formally review the features provided by the latest version as compared to what I am currently using, and help evaluate whether I should prioritize an upgrade or remain happy with what I have.
|Topic Display Method:||Flat||Flat||Flat, but with “Reply to Post” option|
|Custom BBCode Buttons:||No||Yes||No, but I never felt they were needed|
|HTML in posts:||Yes||No||Disabled at the board level so a non-issue for me|
|Quoting:||Yes Quoting Nested||Yes Quoting Nested, Configurable maximum nested depth||Standard works fine for me, never saw a need to fix it|
|Quote Multiple Posts:||No||Yes Quote Multiple Posts Multiple post quoting through Topic Review||The quoting from topic preview is nice. I have not implemented it yet.|
|Formatting Toolbar:||Yes||Yes||No changes|
|Word Censors:||Yes||Yes||No changes, but I have zero words on my censor list anyway|
|Syntax Highlighting:||No||Yes||Not needed|
|Attachments:||No||Yes (Multiple)||Yes, via Acyd Burn’s MOD|
|Polls:||Yes||Yes||Poll expiration dates are displayed|
|Multiple Poll Option Voting:||No||Yes||Not needed|
|User based Poll Tracking:||No||Yes||Yes, custom|
|Allow/Disallow Vote Change:||No||Yes||See above|
|Beaten-to-Posting Review:||No||Yes||Not needed|
|Flood Control:||Yes||yes||Yes, custom|
One of the first MODs I wrote was a “Reply to Post”. People were not used to having to scroll up or down the page to find the reply button, so I added code that made it possible to click “reply” on each post. That saved a lot of quoting. This did not change the display from flat to threaded, but it was a well-received feature. It’s still not in phpBB3 and is something that I would have to create before I could switch. The custom BBCode feature is nice, but we don’t really need more formatting options on my board. I do have attachments (via Acyd Burn’s MOD, see below for more comments) so that’s a toss-up as far as features go. I have customized the poll handling and include all of the features present in phpBB3 and some additional options as well. I have tweaked the flood control as mentioned in a prior post.
And there are new features as well that I have created. I have a MOD called the “Bump Warning” that displays a red band at the top of the posting screen if a user attempts to reply to their own post before 24 hours have elapsed or someone else has posted in between.
I have also implemended Topic Prefixes, which allows a user to tag a topic within a forum. Board members can then filter the forum to show only topics with that specific tag. I use this to create one large forum for user groups, and then create tags for each regional area. I also use it to allow users to tag technical support questions with the version of the software they’re using. I understand this is under development for 3.2, but it’s not there yet, so I win. For now.
Bottom line here is that while there are some new options for phpBB3 there is nothing compelling, and I do have the “reply to post” feature which is now a requirement for my board. Based on this and the other new posting features I have added I think I clearly win this category.
|Automatic Image Thumbnails:||No||Yes||Yes, via Acyd Burn’s MOD as noted previously|
|Attachment Types:||No||Yes Attachment Types Images, Documents, Audio Streams, Video Streams, Archives||See above|
|Multiple Attachments:||No||Yes||See above|
|Attachment Placement:||No||Yes Attachment Placement Inline and/or standard||Don’t have this as it’s part of phpBB3 rather than the MOD, and I do like it, but it’s not a compelling feature|
I installed the Attachment MOD from Acyd Burn some years ago. It has worked very well for our needs. From the outside looking in the only real upgrade provided in phpBB3 is the option to do inline attachments, It’s nice, but not a compelling reason to upgrade.
|Database Query Caching:||No||Yes||Yes|
|Arbitrary Data:||No||Yes||Not sure what this means|
|Manual Cache Refreshing:||No||Yes||Yes|
I started working on a caching routine during the development of the Page Permissions MOD. It’s probably primitive compared to what is in phpBB3 but it’s functional. I have tweaked it over the years so that now I am caching all sorts of different parts of my board. And to save time, cached files (and language files too) are only read from disk when they are required. At one point my lang_main.php file was HUGE beyond belief. Now it has been put on a diet, and there is code inside lang_main.php that only loads additional language files based on the calling page. It’s much faster, but I don’t think that I can assign a point either way for this category.
So far I have covered nine of the categories from the feature comparison list at phpbb.com. The score was 1-1 coming into this post, where do I think I stand now?
As mentioned above, I get a point for posting improvements that I have made. There are a few things missing (multi-quote from topic preview as one example) that I like, but others (poll vote tracking / changing, poll expiration date display, reply to post option) that make up for that. With the “bump warning” and the topic prefixes added to the mix, and the fact that the “reply to post” option is missing from phpBB3, I will award myself a point for the posting category. The score is now 2-1 in my favor.
Attachments is essentially a tie, primarily since I’ve added Acyd Burn’s Attachment MOD to my board. We have included this feature for several years now and it has worked very well. I like the inline placement from phpBB3 but it’s not a compelling reason to upgrade. Score remains 2-1.
As stated above, I am giving not going to give myself a point for my caching system only because it is reasonably equivalent to what is in phpBB3. Since we both have it, there’s no clear winner.
So that makes the score 2-1 at this point in my favor as I score it. I decided that the added features for posting in phpBB3 were counter balanced by my own customizations. The other two features are a toss-up, so no points were awarded. It’s probably not surprising that my points are pulling ahead since I have written the things that I want, and made them work the way I want them to work, for my own purposes. phpBB3 has to be all things to all people. I only have to please myself.
Next time I will cover Profiles/Memberlist, Search, and Forums.