Simple Machines Forum

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Simple Machines Forum
Screenshot of a fresh SMF installation
Developer(s) The SMF Team
Written in PHP
Type Forum software
License Simple Machines License

Simple Machines Forum (abbreviated as SMF) is a freeware Internet forum application. The software is written in PHP and uses a MySQL database backend, although multi-database support is being developed for version 2.0[1]. SMF is developed by the Simple Machines development team.[2]



SMF was created to replace the forum software YaBB SE, which at the time was gaining a bad reputation because of problems with its Perl-based ancestor software YaBB[citation needed]. At the time, YaBB was attributed to causing resource allocation problems on many systems. YaBB SE was written as a rough PHP port of YaBB, and had many of the same resource and security problems of the older YaBB versions.[3] Joseph Fung and Jeff Lewis of Lewis Media Inc., the owners of YaBB SE and the original owners of SMF, made the decision to convert to a new brand and name.

SMF started as a small project by username "[Unknown]" (one of the YaBB SE developers) and its main intent was to add more advanced templating to YaBB SE. The project then slowly grew to address common feature requests, efficiency problems, and security concerns. A rehaul of YaBB SE had been in development for several years, but was superseded by this then competing project. Popular interest in the new YaBB SE fork sparked a complete rewrite of the code, with security and performance in mind. This eventually became today's Simple Machines Forum.[4][5]. The first SMF release was SMF 1.0 Beta 1a, released on 30 September 2003 to Charter Members only[6].

On the 23rd of October 2006, Simple Machines LLC was registered in the state of Arizona, and the transfer of copyrights from Lewis Media to Simple Machines LLC was completed on the 24th of November 2006 during a three-day retreat in Tucson, AZ. This was done for the "[solidification of] the team’s commitment to continuously providing free software, without the perceived risks of corporate influence"[7]


File:SMF 2.0 RC2.png
A fresh installation of SMF 2.0 RC2, SMF's latest preview release software

On 8 April 2007, Simple Machines announced the introduction of their next version, SMF 2.0 [8]. SMF 2.0 has been in development alongside SMF 1.1 since December 2005. This version has many new features, including:

  • Database abstraction - with support for PostgreSQL and SQLite planned alongside that of MySQL.
  • Automatic installation of packages into themes other than just the default.
  • Email templates to simplify customization of forum emails.
  • Moderation center including post, topic and attachment moderation - to allow approving of user content before it is made public.
  • User warning system.
  • Additional group functionally including group moderators and requestable/free assignable groups.
  • WYSIWYG editor to provide an intuitive user interface to those users not familiar with BBCode.
  • Permission improvements such as group inheritance and permission profiles to further reduce the complexity of the permissions system.
  • File based caching for a performance increase on all forums regardless of whether an accelerator is installed.
  • Mail queuing system to stagger the sending of emails to improve performance on large forums.
  • Advanced signature settings to allow the administrator of a forum to more tightly control the contents of users signatures.
  • Personal messaging improvements including ability to automatically sort incoming messages and a variety of display options.
  • Improved upgrade script with better timeout protection and simpler user interface.
  • Custom profile fields to enable administrators to add additional member fields from the administration center.
  • Use of OpenID.

The first public beta of SMF 2.0 was released on Monday, March 17 2008.


SMF is available in over 47 languages[9], including Albanian, Arabic, Bangla (Bengali), Bulgarian, Catalan, Chinese, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, English British, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Kurdish, Macedonian, Malay, Norwegian, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Spanish, Slovak, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Urdu and Vietnamese. SMF is also being translated in another 30 languages by an online tool called Language Editor available for the official translators of the SMF software. UTF-8 and non-UTF-8 encodings are available for all versions.


SMF has a modification base repository for free modification hosting and tracking via the Simple Machines main site. Many modifications, or "mods" as they are usually called, have been created and distributed free of charge, including an arcade, profile additions, gallery, spam filter, various SEO features, and many more. Before being listed on the SMF Mods site, the mod is validated by the SMF Team, to ensure that it complies with the SMF Coding Guidelines.

The Package Manager included in SMF is one of the flagship features. It allows an administrator to install modifications and updates to SMF without having to modify the code of the script, usually with only a few mouse clicks.

The SMF team

The Simple Machines team includes developers, site team, customization, documentation, internalization, marketing, and management divisions. The SMF support staff and users provide free support on the official community forums. Their duties include helping forum owners with troubleshooting and optimization.

Charter Members

People who wish to support Simple Machines with a donation of 49.95 USD yearly are rewarded with a Charter Membership. This grants access to a hidden section on the forum and advanced beta versions to test before they go public. Advanced support for SMF including installation and upgrades by the staff are also provided. Charter Members also get access to a private Helpdesk staffed by the Simple Machines Support Team where Charter Members can receive one-on-one support outside of the public forum.[10]

SMF and free software

SMF is occasionally criticized for not being available under a free software license; the developers acknowledge this.[11] Redistribution of the software, even unmodified, is not allowed without written permission. The source code is not redistributable either, although it is allowed to distribute instructions on how to modify it. The official response is:

Sometimes people ask us: "Why do you care that people are redistributing it?" and the reason is that although we believe in giving back to the Open Source community, we also believe that the volunteers that make up this project deserve the credit. On top of that, allowing unlimited redistribution encourages project forking and could lead to confusion about what versions are supported.
Simple Machines LLC[11]


Further reading

See also

External links

es:SMF fa:اس‌ام‌اف fr:Simple Machines Forum it:Simple Machines Forum nl:Simple Machines Forum no:Simple Machines Forum pl:Simple Machines Forum ru:Simple Machines Forum fi:Simple Machines Forum sv:Simple Machines Forum tr:Simple Machines Forum uk:Simple Machines Forum

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