2.8 out of 5 with 4 ratings

Simple Machines Forum Reviews

Decent free solution but heavily lacking on customization

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Pretty decent forum software solution if you need some basic functionality and don't want to spend money on it.

However, if you need customization then better start looking somewhere else. The modding community, which produces plugins and themes, has been dead for years and offers almost exclusively stuff that was last updated two-three years ago. The main reason for that is that the underlying code architecture of SMF 2.0 is still based on coding practices from 2007 when it was first conceived. Horrible spaghetti code throughout templates, a pretty bad plugin system with no clear design pattern in mind and a lot of duck-taped stuff throughout the code base.

That also means if you wan't to implement stuff that is pretty much a must in 2015 like social networks integration, support for modern services and their APIs you are pretty much out of luck. Chances are there is no plugin that provides such functionality or its heavily outdated and doesn't work.

Bottom line, if you need an all-round forum solution for your website with a lot of customization potential then avoid SMF 2.0. It's free though so you can test it and see if the lack of customization is something you can live with.


Managed to death

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Used to be great during the golden era of forums. Then it got managed to death during the last decade. Last stable release was six years ago. Customization is wishful thinking due to messy code and awful templates (hard-coded HTML/CSS/JavaScript). Mods are non-existent or heavily out of date with no support from the dead modding community. SMF 2.1 beta has been in development since SMF 2.0 release (2011) but while it fixes one thing with every beta release it also breaks at least two.

If you are looking for reliable, up to date, forum software with at least a decent level of support and don't want to commit seppuku every time you want to customize it, look somewhere else.


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Provides a decent amount of functionality users might have come to expect from forum software but suffers from hopelessly archaic design and architecture. Most plugins are obsolete and do not work anymore while theme customization is one giant mess of template files which are choke full of conditional logic and markup riddled with both inline styles and JavaScript. The majority of JS is not even namespaced resulting in a huge number of variables that pollute the global window object.

The update and the plugin installation system also both use a form of diff patching which alters the original source files and simply begs for something to go wrong when a conflict between plugins arises. This also means that if something goes wrong during a plugin installation or an update the only available solution is rolling back to an earlier backup.

Bottom line is SMF is a decent choice for hobbyists or people that just want to play with their own forum but I wouldn't recommend it for business use because in 2019 there are far better solutions that are not even remotely so archaic and hard to customize like SMF.



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I recently switched to SMF because I was having issues with my members uploading on Wordpress and drupal plugins. Is fast, smooth, and very customizable. Best of all. it looks nice and its FREE!