RokBridgeLatest Version: J2.5 / J3.1 3.2 / J1.5 1.0rc14
Non-invasive, bi-directional RokBridge is a non-invasive, bi-directional bridge for Joomla and the forum platform phpBB3. By following a few simple sets, you can easily integrate the two platforms, providing registration, user syncing and syncing of login sessions.
Traditionally bridges for Joomla have been a variety of hack's in both the Joomla and the forum code base, resulting in a precarious solution that was prone to break with updates on either side. This is not the case with RokBridge due to its non-invasive characteristics. RokBridge has been developed with the help of key members of the phpBB3 team to ensure that no hacks are required on the Joomla or phpBB3 side. Everything just works.
- Non-invasive Joomla application
- Simple unified Joomla component based install & setup
- Powerful Joomla modules: Login, Latest Posts, Latest Members, Top Members, Online Members
- Uses Joomla authenticator and user synchronization system, which will allow for authentication via plugins such as openID, ldap, gmail, etc...
- Bi-directional syncing of registrations in either Joomla or phpBB3
- Sychronization of profile data
- Very little performance overhead compared to traditional bridges
- No Joomla or phpBB3 hacks required
- Joomla SEF capabilities trickle down to bridged forum
How Does the Bridge Work?
The bridge is a Joomla! application and not a Joomla! component. This means that it does run standalone and not inside Joomla!. We have chosen this approach for performance reasons. Running phpBB3 inside Joomla! would almost double the server load as both the Joomla! CMS and phpBB3 applications would need to be booted up at the same time for each page request. For smaller forums this might not be a problem, but for large installations this would definitely be an issue. With the bridge running as a Joomla! application, there is no visual integration. You must use a matching phpBB3 theme to ensure visual integration. The RocketTheme phpBB3 Theme Club provides matching themes for many of our Joomla Templates.
Authentication plugins deal with the authentication of user credentials against a dedicated user store. For example, when a user tries to log in, the system will check the users credentials againt all of the enabled authentication plugins, if one of them succeeds the system will declare the user as authentic and allow the system to continue with the login procedure.
User plugins on the other hand are responsible to log a user in into an application, being that either Joomla! itself or an external application like phpBB3. The user plugins also deal with syncing users between the different applications.
Lastly, the Joomla! user plugin has special feature we call 'auto-registration'. This allows the system to auto-register (store in the database) and authenticated user who is log-in in into the system for the first time.
The bridge is making use of all these features to allow it to do it's magic. The bridge contains the following 3 Joomla! extensions :
- A Joomla! user plugin: This plugin takes care of the user synchronisation login/logout synchronisation from Joomla! to phpBB3.
- A Joomla! authentication plugin: This plugin takes care of the user authentication against the phpBB3 user store (database)
- A Joomla! application: The application acts as a wrapper and makes it possible to offer advanced features to the bridge such a SEF functionality and in a later phase we also hope to offer some sort of template wrapping functionality.
The bridge also contains 1 specific phpBB3 extensions, the phpBB3 Joomla! authentication plugin.
The bridge is designed to run into two different modes, bridged mode and synced mode. In synced mode the bridge will only perform user and log-in/out syncing, while in bridged mode the bridge will run as a Joomla! application and offer extra features, firing of Joomla plugins, and Joomla-style SEF URL's.
What does this mean in practice :
- Synced mode : when you install the phpBB3 user and authentication plugins in Joomla! and activated the phpBB3 authentication plugin in phpBB3 you are running in synced mode.
- Bridged mode : when you access your phpBB installation through the special Joomla! application you are running in bridged mode.
RokBridge is still in Beta and should be used for testing purposes only! Use on a live site only after thorough testing. We are not responsible for loss of data or other complications or other issues that may arise as a result of this extension. Use at your own discretion!
Clean Installation Instructions
NOTE: If you have installed a previous version of the bridge prior to 1.0RC6, you should first remove the phpBB3 User and phpBB3 Authentication plugins from your Joomla install. The new component will fail to install properly unless these two plugins are removed cleanly.
Important: As of 1.0RC14 all modules are included in the installer package with an existing installation all previous installed rokbridge modules as member, latest posts and login module must be removed.
- RokBridge Extension http://www.rockettheme.com
- Joomla http://www.joomla.org
- phpBB3 http://www.phpbb.com
Step 1 - Package Installation
- Download the latest rokbridge.zip from the RokBridge Download section (see right).
- Install at Admin → Extensions → Install/Uninstall → Choose File → Select file → Upload File & Install
- Upon successful installation, you will see the install notices. If performing an update, some will appear blue.
Step 2 - Bridge Installation
When you visit the RokBridge administrator component in the Components menu, you will see the default configuration screen. The Joomla User Plugin and the Joomla Authentication Plugin should already be installed and activated. The next step is to choose a location for the phpBB3 bridge. This will effectively be the URL by which your community will visit your forum. By default this install path is set to "forum" and the default phpBB3 install path is set to "distribution". Just update the Bridge Path field in the RokBridge Configuration settings and click the Save button in the toolbar for the settings to take effect. Warning: The Bridge Path can NOT be the same as the phpBB3 Path. Do not use leading or trailing slashes.
To install the bridge in this location you have just chosen, simply click on the "Install" button in the Action column of the RokBridge Status section. At this point the bridge files are copied to this directory and the status section should show the bridge installed. We recommend using Joomla's FTP mode to allow the installer to copy and update the files with the correct permissions as needed.
NOTE: The RokBridge installer will create the bridge directory. The bridge cannot be installed into a pre-existing directory.
Step 3 - phpBB3 Installation
By default the phpBB3 path is set to "distribution", but you can change this to any location you want for you phpBB3 installation. If you have phpBB3 previously installed (NOTE: must be under the Joomla directory), you can change the phpBB3 Path field to this directory name and click the save button. For example, if you have phpBB3 installed in "phpbb3_forum" directory, change the path to this and click the save button to save your configuration changes. If the path is a valid phpBB3 install, this will be recognized and shown in the RokBridge Status section below.
If you do not have phpBB3 installed yet, download the latest version from http://www.phpbb.com and extract into a directory of your choosing under your Joomla install. For example install the phpBB3 forum into <Joomla Directory>/phpbb3. Then point your browser to this directory and follow the installation instructions to fully install phpBB3. If you have any questions regarding the installation of phpBB3, please consult the http://www.phpbb.com website. After you have successfully installed phpBB3, you can enter the directory you used into the phpBB3 Path field of the RokBridge Configuration.
Step 4 - phpBB3 Authentication Plugin
The next process is to install the phpBB3 Authentictation Plugin. Simply click on the "Install" link next to that item in the status area, and the authentication plugin will be copied to your phpBB3 install in the appropriate location. If you do not see an "Install" option in the action column you need to ensure that both the phpBB3 Bridge and the phpBB3 Forum are properly installed. The installation of the plugin now also auto-sets the phpBB3 authentication method in the phpBB3 configuration
Step 5 - RokBridge Specific Indexes for phpBB3
This new step adds some database indexes on the phpBB3 tables that improve performance especially with the new RokBridge modules.
Step 6 - phpBB3 Patch
We've tried extremely hard to make this bridge as unintrusive as possible, however there are a couple of minor bugs in phpBB3 prior to 3.0.6 that require a minor code patch. This step modifies the phpBB3 functions.php and functions_admin.php files to fix these bugs. phpBB3's update mechanism will see this edit, and it will not cause a problem with future updates. We worked with the phpBB3 team to ensure these issues are resolved and do not require patching in versions 3.0.6 and greater.
All versions of phpBB3 use GET rather than POST in their advanced search form, this is addressed by editing the proSilver template directly and is a non-invasive minor patch. Simply click the Install button to add this bug fix.
Step 7 - RokBridge Menu Item
In the Menu Item Manager for your menu of choice, you can either set up an External Link to your new bridged location, or you can create a RokBridge Menu Item. The RokBridge Menu Item basically acts as a redirect to your current bridge location and is a good option if you plan on changing your bridge location at some point.
Step 1 - Remove Existing Component & Plugins
Before upgrading you should reverse the steps you followed in the installation process. From the RokBridge menu item in the Joomla! Administrator, click the remove buttons from the bottom to the top. For example, phpBB3 Patch, RokBridge Specific Indexes for phpBB3, phpBB3 Authentication Plugin, phpBB3 Bridge. When these have all been clicked and you are back just showing one "install" button for the phpBB3 Bridge, you can remove the RokBridge component from the Extension Install/Uninstall menu item. This uninstallation process will also remove the phpbb3_user and phpbb3_auth plugins. If you have a version of RokBridge prior to 1.0RC6, you should remove these two plugins individually. You may want to also remove the RokBridge modules if you plan to upgrade those.
Step 1 - Remove Existing Component & Plugins
Follow the regular Removal Instructions Procedure to first remove the current version.
Step 2 - Package Installation
Follow the regular Clean Installation Procedure to install the new version.
Frequently Asked Questions
This is a non-exhaustive (but still near complete) changelog for RokBridge, including alpha, beta, release candidate and final versions.