Simple Machines Forum

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Simple Machines Forum
Developer(s) The Simple Machines organization[1]
Stable release 2.0.9 (October 2, 2014; 2 months ago (2014-10-02)) [±]
Preview release 2.1 Beta 1 (November 21, 2014; 26 days ago (2014-11-21)) [±]
Development status Active
Written in PHP
Type Internet forum

Simple Machines Forum, or SMF, is a free Internet forum (BBS) web application. The software is written in PHP and uses a SQL database for data storage. Starting with version 2.0, MySQL, PostgreSQL and SQLite are supported along SQL, however SQLite support is dropped in SMF 2.1.[3] SMF is developed by the Simple Machines organization.[1]


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.[4] 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.[5] 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.

A YaBB SE developer known as "[Unknown]" began SMF as a small project, with the intent to add more advanced templating. The project slowly grew to address common feature requests, efficiency problems, and security concerns. A revision of YaBB SE had been in development for several years, but was superseded by this competing project.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 the Simple Machines Forum.[6][7] The first SMF release was SMF 1.0 Beta 1a, released on 30 September 2003 to Charter Members only.[8]

On 23 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 24 November 2006 during a three-day retreat in Tucson, AZ, with the purpose of the "[solidification of] the team’s commitment to continuously providing free software, without the perceived risks of corporate influence".[9]

Simple Machines won's best free forum software award of 2009.[10]

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.

Current Version[edit]

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

On 8 April 2007, Simple Machines announced the introduction of their next version, SMF 2.0.[11] SMF 2.0.x 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 functionality 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.

SMF 2.0 was released on June 11, 2011. The current version is SMF 2.0.9, released on October 3rd, 2014.


SMF is available in over 47 languages,[12] including Albanian, Arabic, Bengali, Bulgarian, Catalan, Chinese, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, English British, Esperanto, Finnish, French, Galician, 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, Helpdesk, 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.[13]

Charter Members[edit]

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.[14]


As of June 11, 2011 Simple Machines Forum version 2.0 and later are licensed under the 3-clause BSD license.[15][2]

See also[edit]


Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]