Paper edition of my book is now available

My book, Mastering phpBB Administration is now available in paper. The paper version is 337 pages and costs $19.99.

As I am new to publishing, this is a learning experience. I haven’t found a way to download the Kindle version of my book without paying for it. There is a preview app I downloaded, but it just took the .docx source and transformed it. The result shows an eBook where figures are often misaligned. It may be the preview app is faulty and the Kindle version is fine. If there is an issue with the formatting of the Kindle version, I’ll do my best to correct it as soon as possible.

The paper version though looks great, and you may prefer that. The layout is exactly how I formatted it. As there are many figures and screenshots, it was important to present them so they can be read. I settled on using a Dummies book size as a good size for the book, which is 7.5 inches by 9.25 inches. However, except for the cover, it is in black and white. I could create a color version but it is cost prohibitive for most people. I’d have to price it at over $40. If you’d prefer to purchase a color version let me know and I may go through the hassle of offering one.

Please leave reviews (hopefully positive ones) on Amazon if you read it, as it should help me sell more copies. I began working on it in October 2019, and it turned into a major project. I’ve invested quite a bit of money on the book and am hoping for a return on investment. It was professionally edited, which is a costly endeavor. It should fill a niche very well. Aside from documentation on, there is no book like this. To the extent there are phpBB books out there, they tend to be very old. And they don’t go into the detail I do in this book. If you are a phpBB board administrator and my typical sort of client, you really need this book. It’s a wise investment and a lot less expensive than hiring me or others like me.

I hope to update the book at least annually.

My book is out

Mastering phpBB Administration, by Mark D. Hamill

My book, Mastering phpBB Administration, is available for Kindle downloading. The cost is $9.99. I hope to offer a paperback version soon. I’m new to publishing, so this is a learning experience. Bear with me.

It’s truly chock full of information and basically a brain dump of everything I’ve been doing for 14 years in the phpBB field. It’s meant for phpBB administrators, i.e. my clients. You may not need to hire me if you read it instead. That was certainly its goal. Of course, I’m always available for hire if you prefer me to do the grunt work.

Chapter Titles

  1. What is phpBB?
  2. Why phpBB?
  3. Using phpBB: the basics
  4. Installing phpBB
  5. Basic phpBB configuration
  6. Advanced phpBB configuration
  7. Growing your board
  8. Administrative chores
  9. Handling versioning
  10. Troubleshooting
  11. The future of phpBB


  • A. phpBB and web hosting
  • B. Setting up and using File Transfer Protocol (FTP)
  • C. Creating a custom style
  • D. Converting to phpBB from other forum solutions
  • E. Rehosting

The book is 335 pages, formatted for print (7.5 x 9.25 inches). I hope to offer a paper version soon, so stay tuned.

phpBB 3.3 is a pretty minor minor version

So I’m starting to port my extensions to phpBB 3.3.

I’m surprised by how easy it has been, at least compared with porting my extensions from phpBB 3.1 to 3.2. This is because not much has changed between 3.2 and 3.3.

In moving from 3.1 to 3.2, there were all sorts of changes under the hood that made porting extensions challenging. The way posts were encoded in the phpbb_posts table was changed, which was a big deal. FontAwesome support, which was very limited, was introduced, meaning we could use these in our templates instead of embedding images. A new TWIG library meant that the old way we extension authors inserted dynamic data into pages changed pretty fundamentally. We were asked to use a new template syntax in our templates. Template library calls also changed quite a bit. In short, 3.1 to 3.2 required quite a bit of reengineering, both of the phpBB base code but also of its extensions.

For 3.3, there’s not much upgrading of the database needed. Only one table is altered: phpbb_users, to change the properties of the reset token. The content in the phpbb_extension_groups table is changed. The Flash media group finally goes away (Flash is obsolete) and any non-Flash files in the group are now assigned to the downloadable files group.

As noted, you can use more Emoji codes in 3.3 and can put Emoji in a topic title. But this doesn’t alter the database. I have to test for these in my extensions, but so far it’s not a problem because the existing function I used to display these fields handles it for me. So nothing to do there.

So phpBB 3.3 feels more like an update to phpBB 3.2 than it does a new minor version. On the whole, the new functionality is quite minor. The main thing I have to do is test with PHP 7.4, since phpBB 3.3 now supports PHP 7.1.3 to 7.4 only. Getting my extensions to a stable 3.2 place before upgrading PHP is turning out to be much more work than retrofitting my extensions.

So yea for that.

September 2018 work summary

Things slowed down a bit in September, which was okay because I also started teaching a class this month.

I did have one large job at the start of the month that more than paid the rent. This was a commercial job and it involved moving a forum from phpBB 3.0.14 to 3.2.2. I was working as a subcontractor. The contractor’s client had a very particular look and feel to his forum and he wanted that to be retained as much as possible, so the challenge was to do this despite the fact that many modifications on the forum were not available as extensions. Obviously this meant making sure the style closely matched the phpBB 3.0 style. I did the prototyping work in a development environment. It took a long time to get things tweaked before I was given permission to move the changes into production. The first attempt at an upgrade of the database failed due to a resource timeout. The second attempt worked but took about six hours using command line interface. I installed the mChat, ReImg Imag Resizer, Google Analytics, Post Count Requirements and later NavBar search extensions. I set up Q&A spambot countermeasure. I removed dead modules and dead software including Tapatalk. The rest was styling work. I created a custom style based on Prosilver SE and then tried to emulate look of existing site. I added archives link to navigation bar, put the Twitter logo in the footer, and customized the footer to add link to site. Three templates were changed. Style customizations were placed in stylesheet.css. Later, there was four hours of additional styling work working from a punch list. One of the challenges was to do the work quickly. It was four days from start to finish. Given that this was a big forum, this was a moderate challenge.

Also in September:

  • I updated a forum from phpBB 3.2.1 to 3.2.2. There was a routing error caused by modSecurity being enabled. I disabled it and was able to post. Also upgraded PHP from 5.5 to 7.1 for about 50% faster performance for the client.
  • Similar to my last work for this client, I created MySQL triggers to subscribe people in the registered users and newly registered users groups to get topic and post notifications, but on a different domain.
  • I updated a forum from phpBB 3.1.4 to 3.2.3. (phpBB 3.2.3 was released in the middle of the month.) I installed an updated Aero style. I removed the Board3 portal extension. I installed updated extensions: Topic Preview and Notify Admin on Registration. I upped PHP version to 5.6 from 5.4. I changed the spambot countermeasure to use reCaptcha V2. I installed my digests extensions (version 3.2.8) and tested email using both a manual test and cron.
  • I updated phpBB from version 3.2.2 to 3.2.3 for a client using update files method. Updated five extensions that were out of date.
  • I updated another forum from phpBB 3.2.2 to 3.2.3. I updated the Tapatalk extension from 2.0.8 to 2.1.3. I had to reapply a style change to common.css.

With the release of phpBB 3.2.3, the phpBB group not only fixed some bugs that really needed fixing (including one that only allowed one attachment per post) and the migrator issues that gave me hell, but it also appears that the update program will now update any extensions that need updating, if the links work correctly. This is normally a good thing but if you wrote any custom changes to these extensions this might overwrite them, and there is no warning of this. You are not supposed to do this, but I have clients who have done this or asked me to do it for them. The update program really needs some sort of warning or a switch of some sort so these don’t happen automatically.

Site cleanup

I’ve spent the last two days cleaning up the website. Some pages were removed. My services page was broken down into a number of pages for easier reading. I changed some page titles and edited one form. I also updated the theme. Hopefully the site is cleaner, less cluttered and easier to use.

Updated services page

I have updated my services page. I have upped my prices for some services and my general hourly rate for $25/hour to $30/hour. Why? I feel I am worth the money. Also, because I don’t necessarily need a whole lot of business, I can afford to get a bit less business, probably at no appreciable loss to my overall revenue.

I also updated the content, and removed a few things. No one was interested in my consulting service contracts, for example, so I no longer offer it.