Simple Machines Forum

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Simple Machines Forum
Developer(s) The Simple Machines organization
Stable release 2.0.9 (October 2, 2014; 7 months ago (2014-10-02)) [±]
Preview release 2.1 Beta 1 (November 21, 2014; 5 months ago (2014-11-21)) [±]
Development status Active
Written in PHP
Type Internet forum
License Open Source
SMF 2: 3-clause BSD License
SMF 1: Simple Machines License

Simple Machines Forum software, or SMF software, is a open source, Internet forum, message-board program developed by The Simple Machines Organization. The name reflects the organization's initial goal of providing a program that could be operated by novice programmers and require minimal server resources.[1] Simple Machines won best free forum software award in 2009.[2]


On June 16, 2001,[3] 16 year old Zef Hemel along with collaborators Jeff Lewis, Corey Chapman, and Matt Mecham released the first open source bulletin board written in Perl called YaBB 1.0 (Yet Another Bulletin Board).[4] YaBB 1.0 was the leading free forum software package at the time. It proved, however, to be inefficient and slow for active communities.[5]

On November 12, 2001, shortly after the release of YaBB 1.0, a second program, YaBB SE 1, written by Jeff Lewis and Joseph Fung (from Lewis Media Inc.) with help from Zef Hemel and Christian Land (from the YaBB project) was released. Ultimately, users of this rough PHP port of YaBB also reported resource and security problems.[5]

Lewis and Fung split off from the YaBB SE team to try a different approach for addressing the YaBB SE efficiency problems, security concerns, and to add new features. Lewis and Fung did a complete rewrite of the code[5] and changed the brand name to Simple Machines Forum (SMF).[6] On September 30, 2003, the first "YaBB SE/SMF" product, SMF 1.0 Beta 1a, was released.[7]

The development and support team for YaBB SE, was shut down in March 2004 with hundreds of communities in operation, when the developers joined the SMF project. A converter was developed to convert YaBB SE to SMF.[6][8][9]

On October 23, 2006, the Simple Machines Forum project was split off from Lewis Media for the purpose of "[solidification of] the team’s commitment to continuously providing free software, without the perceived risks of corporate influence". The new company was named Simple Machines, LLC.[10] 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 24 November 2006 during a three-day retreat in Tucson, AZ.[6]

On Dec 03, 2006, SMF 1.1 was released.[citation needed]

On April 8, 2007, Simple Machines announced the introduction of SMF 2.0.[11] SMF 2.0.x has been in development alongside SMF 1.1 since December 2005.

In June 2010, Simple Machines re-formed as a not-for-profit organization (NPO) registered in Nevada. The transfer of assets from LLC to NPO was completed in April 2011 and in May 2011, Simple Machines, LLC was dissolved. On the 24th of September 2010, the Simple Machines team announced the dissolving of the Simple Machines LLC and all assets moved to the nonprofit organization (Simple Machines) set up for the project.[10] The Simple Machines Organization has a not-for-profit applications pending with the IRS.[citation needed]

On June 11, 2011, SMF 2.0 was released.[12]

On November 21, 2014, SMF 2.1 beta was released.[citation needed]


A fresh installation of SMF 2.0 RC4, a preview release of the software

SMF 1.0 and 1.1 are published under OSI approved licenses. It is open source. Distribution of certain modified components is limited.

Simple Machines Forum version 2.0 and 2.1 are licensed under the 3-clause BSD license.[13] It is also open source with redistribution of modified code subject to guidelines.[1]


Simple Machines Forum software is written in the HyperText Preprocessor (PHP) language and uses MySQL database management - it is built around established industry standards. The use of PHP, MySQL and the fact that SMF is freeware, helped spawn the creation of a large and relatively active volunteer development community.[1]

Simple Machines Forum has a limited footprint and as it is free, the package is a popular choice for individuals and small organizations with limited resources. SMF support is often found on basic hosting packages, with or without 'one-click' install functionality. SMF is commonly deployed on shared servers, usually Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP (LAMP) compliant servers.[1]

Simple Machines Forum has 6 versions, YaBB 1, YaBB SE 1, SMF 1.0, SMF 1.1, SMF 2.0 and SMF 2.1

Version Release Date Latest Rev# Revision Date Development
YaBB June 16, 2001 2.6.11 December 17, 2014 Active[a]
YaBB SE 1 Nov 12, 2001 1.5.5 Jan 17, 2004 Inactive[b]
SMF 1.0 Sep 30, 2003 1.0.23 Dec 16, 2012 Inactive[c]
SMF 1.1 Dec 03, 2006 1.1.20 Oct 03, 2014 Active
SMF 2.0 Jun 11, 2011 2.0.9 Oct 03, 2014 Active[d]
SMF 2.1 Nov 21, 2014 2.1 beta 1 Nov 21, 2014 beta[e]
  1. ^ YaBB became a separate and active community[14]
  2. ^ YaBB SE became a separate and active community that disbanded in March 2004 to join SMF 1.1 effort.[8]
  3. ^ Replaced by SMF 1.1
  4. ^ There are 33 improvements between 2.0 and 1.1[15]
  5. ^ There are 54 improvements between 2.0 and 2.1[16]

Local language options[edit]

SMF is available in 42 languages in UTF-8 and non-UTF-8 encodings:

30 additional languages in development via an on-line tool called Language Editor.


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, Help desk, 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.

SMF team[edit]

The Simple Machines team consists of volunteers, and includes developers, support, customization, documentation, localization, marketing, and different management divisions.

SMF has a dedicated support staff and a volunteer user program called Community Support Helpers that provide free support in SMF related problems on the official community forum. Their duties include mostly helping forum owners with troubleshooting, optimization and customization of SMF.

The documentation and localization teams work on the SMF wiki, powered by MediaWiki and the Translate extension.[17]

Advanced support[edit]

Advanced support for SMF users including installation and upgrades by the Simple Machines staff, access to a hidden section on the SMF forum and access to advanced beta versions of software is available via a program name Charter Membership. Participants also have access to a private help-desk for one-on-one support outside of the public forum. On January 1, 2015, the annual fee was $49.95 USD.[18]

Prominent forums[edit]

There are more than 20 mega-forums, ranging in size from 1,000,000 to 75,000,000 posts, operating on this platform.[19]


  • SMF has been criticized[by whom?] for not being available under a free software license; the developers acknowledge this. Redistribution of earlier releases of the software (SMF 1), even unmodified, were not allowed without written permission. That source code is not redistributable either, although it is allowed to distribute instructions on how to modify it.[40]
  • Some users complain that being limited to the SMF website for customer support is a lot of work.[41]
  • Some users complain that navigating the website is difficult due to a usual layout that often requires visitors to navigate through multiple areas to find even the most basic information.[41]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "What is Simple Machines Forum?". WhoIsHostingThis. Retrieved January 15, 2015. 
  2. ^ "Best Forum Software of 2009". Forum Software Reviews. Retrieved January 9, 2010. 
  3. ^ "YaBB 1.0". Retrieved November 12, 2001. 
  4. ^ "Interview With Zef Hemel - Founder of YaBB". The Admin Zone. Retrieved Jun 15, 2005. 
  5. ^ a b c Bes Zain. "Interview with Jeff Lewis, creator of YaBB SE". Sitepoint. Retrieved August 13, 2002. 
  6. ^ a b c "Introducing Simple Machines LLC". The Simple Machines Organization. Retrieved November 27, 2006. 
  7. ^ "SMF 1.0 Beta 1 Released!". Simple Machines. Retrieved November 13, 2003. 
  8. ^ a b Lewis, Jeff. "YaBB Perl Software Community". YaBB SE. Retrieved March 4, 2004. 
  9. ^ Lewis, Jeff. "YaBB Perl Software Community". YaBB SE. Retrieved March 31, 2004. 
  10. ^ a b "Who are we?". The Simple Machines Organization. Retrieved January 15, 2015. 
  11. ^ "Introducing SMF 2.0". Simple Machines. Retrieved April 8, 2007. 
  12. ^ "2.0 Final has been released". The Simple Machines Organization. Retrieved June 11, 2011. 
  13. ^ "Simple Machines License". Simple Machines. Retrieved November 13, 2003. 
  14. ^ " is coming back". Retrieved December 18, 2014. 
  15. ^ "Differences between SMF 2.0 and SMF 1.1". Simple Machines. Retrieved August 27, 2011. 
  16. ^ "Differences between SMF 2.1 and SMF 2.0". Simple Machines. Retrieved March 29, 2014. 
  17. ^ Joshua Dickerson. "So Proud". The Simple Machines Organization. Retrieved March 25, 2011. 
  18. ^ "Charter membership". Simple Machines. Retrieved January 15, 2015. 
  19. ^ SMF Wiki. "Large forums". Simple Machines. Retrieved January 15, 2015. 
  20. ^ "Forum stat page". Warrior Cats RPG. January 15, 2015. 
  21. ^ "Forum stat page". Kanye West Forum. January 15, 2015. 
  22. ^ "Forum stat page". Red and White Kop. January 15, 2015. 
  23. ^ "Forum stat page". Bitcoin Forum. January 15, 2015. 
  24. ^ "Forum stat page". Hogville. January 15, 2015. 
  25. ^ "Forum stat page". Taleworlds. January 15, 2015. 
  26. ^ "Forum stat page". January 15, 2015. 
  27. ^ "Forum stat page". Fertility Friends. January 15, 2015. 
  28. ^ "Forum stat page". Itasa. January 15, 2015. 
  29. ^ "Forum stat page". Forum SCP. January 15, 2015. 
  30. ^ "Forum stat page". Simple Machines Forum. January 15, 2015. 
  31. ^ "Forum stat page". January 15, 2015. 
  32. ^ "Forum stat page". January 15, 2015. 
  33. ^ "Forum stat page". KBoards. 
  34. ^ "Forum stat page". Bay 12 Games Forum. January 15, 2015. 
  35. ^ "Forum stat page". Chevy Avalanche Fan Club. January 15, 2015. 
  36. ^ "Forum stat page". BenzoBuddies. January 15, 2015. 
  37. ^ "Forum stat page". avast! support forums. January 15, 2015. 
  38. ^ "Forum stat page". Candy Magazine. January 23, 2015. 
  39. ^ "Forum stat page". Marlin Crawler. January 15, 2015. 
  40. ^ Joshua Dickerson. "Simple Machines and Open Source". The Simple Machines Organization. Retrieved January 15, 2015. 
  41. ^ a b Smith, Matt. "The 3 Best Free Bulletin Boards To Set Up Your Own Forum". MakeUseOf. Retrieved January 15, 2015. 

External links[edit]