Installing phpBB3 for Joomla with a RocketTheme template

"OK this should take just a few minutes..."

I've written this because I spent all night on setting up a "quick" demo resulting in a quick 1 hour nap before having to go to my day job...  It sounds straight forward because both phpBB3 and RocketTheme talk about how to install the RocketTheme templates...  But it's not.  I'm rewriting their instructions here so that I can I do this on other websites:

Important Note:  On Linux (Apache), all file names and folder names are case-sensitive, so phpbb3 is NOT the same as phpBB3.  Bear this in mind during the installation process.



Before we begin:

I have to admit this took me a while.  I had never used phpBB3 before nor were the instructions for applying the template and integrating it into Joomla that straightforward.  It doesn't seem to matter what order you do the below in because I went through rocketheme's instructions once and it didn't work.  I then carried out all the changes going up and down the document, double-checking I had done everything their instructions said.



For demonstration purposes:

I am installing phpBB3 on a website at and am going to pretend the server path is /home/user/var/public_html/



These are the instructions for our usual setup:

  • A working website in Joomla CMS v1.5.14
  • Applied RocketTheme's Affinity template to our website
  • We have all the necessary files:
    • RokBB3 administration module (
    • Affinity phpBB3 template (  [ the template we're using in this example ]



Install phpBB3:

Hopefully you already have a working Joomla website set up.  Go to the phpBB website ( and download their latest stable release.  At the time of this article, this was version 3.0.5, but RocketTheme are fully aware of this and seem to be committed to keeping their templates compatible with phpBB.

phpBB3 installs similarly to Joomla CMS.  As a personal preference, I set up a new database and a new mysql database user which will be used to store the phpBB3 system.  For installation purposes, this mysql user has been granted all privileges (change this after a successful install and remove system privileges such as "drop table").

Upload the compressed file to your web root folder and extract the zip to it (it should create a folder).  If you don't have shell access, you can decompress the phpbb3 ZIP file to your computer and then upload the resulting files to the folder you would create via your FTP client.  When that's done, navigate to and you get a web installation setup GUI similar to Joomla's.  Follow the instructions of the GUI on each page until it confirms you've installed phpBB3.



Install RocketTheme Affinity phpBB3 Style

The next big step is installing the Affinity phpbb3 style. I say it's a big step because RocketTheme assume that you just upload the affinity folder and phpBB3 will pick this up when you install it via the Administration Control Panel (ACP)... But for us, it wasn't that easy.

  1. Make a backup of your /phpBB3/styles folder.  
  2. Make a copy of your /phpBB3/styles/prosilver folder
  3. You need to copy any files from your rocket template folder (eg. affinity) into the folder you just made (eg. copy of prosilver) and overwriting when prompted.
  4. Rename your copy of prosilver folder to the name of your new template (eg. affinity - Please, please, please do NOT include underscores or other special characters... keep it alphanumeric)
  5. Now upload the template you just renamed into your phpBB3 styles folder: /phpBB3/styles/.  You can either decompress on your computer and FTP upload the files uncompressed, or if you have shell access, upload the zip and extract it to the styles folder. 
  6. Now return to your phpBB3 Administration Control Panel (ACP), which should be located at something like
  7. Select the "Styles" tab.
  8. You should see a row with "Affinity" at the bottom.
  9. Click on "Install", set as default and that's it....  Well at least if everything went well for you it is....



Install RokBB3 for the first time (fresh install)

 Upload all the necessary files to your server.  I uploaded the ROKBB3.ZIP file to folder and extracted it to this folder, this overwrote the following files:



 Log into the phpBB3 Administration Control Panel. Based on the phpBB3 installation instructions above, this should be something like

  1. Click on the 'General' tab, look at the "Server Configuration" section and click the "Load Settings" link.  In the right panel, there is an option saying "Recompile stale style components" with a radiobox, set this to "YES" and click on "Submit" at the bottom of the page.
  2. Under the same section is the "Security Settings" link, so click on this.  In the right panel, there is an option saying "Allow php in templates" with a radiobox, set this to "YES" and click on the "Submit" button.
  3. Click on the "General" tab, the RocketTheme instructions say that you should "Purge the cache" so click on the "Run Now" button which I found myself doing at lots of stages in this installation process. So note where it is and come back to it when things aren't responding properly. in summary:

  1. General → Server configuration → Load settings → Recompile stale style components to Yes
  2. General → Server configuration → Security Settings → Allow php in templates to Yes
  3. General → Purge the cache → Confirm YES


 Now go to the "System" tab, look under Module Management and click on the link "Administration Control Panel"

  1. Click on the "General" category link at the top of the module management list (not the "General" tab in the top left)
  2. At the bottom, type ROKBB3 then press the "Create new module" button.
  3. Make sure "enabled" is selected in the radio buttons and click on the "Submit" button. 
  4. Click on "Back to previous page"
  5. This will create a module category called ROKBB3 which you should click on to go into.
  6. In the bottom right, you can now select your Rocket Theme template (eg. Affinity) in the long dropdown and then click on "Add Module" and then on "Yes".
  7. Once added, return to inside the category ROKBB3 so that you can see that the Affinity module been added (an extra row will have appeared).
  8. In the bottom right where you selected Affinity, select "Global configuration" in the long dropdown and then click on "Add Module" and then on "Yes".
  9. If one of these is disabled, it will show a black padlock over it, you need to make sure there are no black padlocks. Click on any links you see that say "enable".  Make sure these are all enabled.

Now return to the "General" tab of the top-left.  There should be a new section in the menu further down with the header RokBB3 and two links: "Affinity" and "Global Configuration".  You can set these to whatever, I found it has no bearing as to why it wasn't working.


Install the RokBridge component from RocketTheme

This process is usually quite quick.  You install the component as per usual and link to it from your menu.

  1. Download the component from the RocketTheme website
  2. Log in to the Joomla Administration Panel
  3. Go to Extensions » Install/Uninstall » and Install the RokBridge component
  4. Make a shortcut to it in your main menu (or whatever menu)
  5. Return the RokBridge component in Joomla Admin Panel (Components > RokBridge)
  6. Specify the name of the Bridge Path (eg. forum) [THIS IS CASE-SENSITIVE (the name as displayed on your menu item)]
  7. Set the phpBB path to the server path to your forum (eg. /phpBB3)
  8. Click on the "Save" icon.
  9. Click on the install button in the same row as phpBB Forum.
  10. Click on the remaining "install" buttons



  1. Now go to the front-end of your main website,
  2. login as a Joomla user
  3. and click on the link to your forum.



Tweaks / Errors

  1. No install buttons are green under the RokBridge component:
    1. Keep checking you're bridge path and phpBB3 path and click on "Save" 
    2. Once the "Install" button appears for the phpBB3 forum, click on it and the other "install" buttons should appear (if your paths are correct - don't forget they're case sensitive and spelt exactly the same way)
  2. Fatal error: Call to a member function acl_get() on a non-object in <root_to_phpbb3>/includes/functions_display.php on line 135 </root_to_phpbb3> sometimes line 82 or a blank page.
    1. We found this seems to be related to some Virtuemart modules we had installed (well all virtuemart modules)... Virtuemart, Joomla and this phpBB works as well as the applied Rocket Theme template, just not with Virtuemart modules... We are investigating this as it seems to be an issue with all Vmart modules but not with Virtuemart itself.



This is what I did because I did the above in the wrong order...

Fix for installing the template applied

  1. I was left with a phpBB3 forum looking like it was text-only with no styles working... Incredibly frustrating because I felt I had followed the instructions to the letter.
  2. I then played about, deleting the other templates other than the one I wanted (affinity) using the Styles tab in phpBB3's Administration Control Panel (eg.  
  3. It would let me delete (ie. uninstall) the other styles except for if you click on "Templates" in the left column, it wouldn't let me delete Prosilver because it said that the Affinity template inherits the Prosilver traits.  
  4. When I deleted prosilver from the "Styles", "Themes", and "Imagesets", my first phpBB3 index page with the affinity template finally worked!!!
  5. Chuffed to bits as you might imagine but clicking on any other link returned an error something along the lines of "template tpl load file styles prosilver login body does not exist empty".
  6. I backed up my local copy of the prosilver folder as well as my local copy of the Affinity for phpBB3 template.
  7. I downloaded the /phpBB3/styles/prosilver folder and copied all the files to my local copy of Affinity without overwriting if prompted.  I Found that my affinity template was missing about 80 files, so I dragged the files from the prosilver folder to my affinity folder and when prompted to overwrite, I'd say NO!
  8. I uploaded my new affinity folder and IT WORKS great!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



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Joel Lipman

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