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Simple Machines Forum

This is an extremely powerful and easy-to-use forum, probably one of the more robust systems Ive come across. Considering the price FREE you cant beat it.

Simple Machines Forum, or SMF, is a free, professional-grade software package that allows you to set up your own online community within minutes aka, its forum software. SMF is written in the popular language PHP (Andy may disagree) and uses a MySQL database. The Simple Machines Forum is the benchmark for these programs because it is widely known and appreciated; it is one of the most frequently installed; and most forum users will be familiar with it. Its easy to install remotely via FTP and browser. The usual MySQL database parameters need to be input username, password etc and installation is smooth and quick. Documentation is improving and offers real solutions to issues now. And of course, the Support forum is excellent. Templates of some kind are the basis for the page layout in all dynamic web applications; in this project they are called Themes. Three default ones are supplied as standard, and you can get up and running with one of these easily.

The plugin system as a whole, and the installation procedure in particular, is very good in SMF. There is nothing any webapp developer could teach the SMF people about plugins the entire system here is excellent. There is even a pre-install test run that tells you if a new plugin is likely to cause problems, and what those might be. The SMF plugin system scores 9 out of 10 and is a joy to use compared to some webserver software. Plugin numbers have about doubled in the last year or so, with around 1,000 available now.

Features:
  • Advanced permission and user management
  • Supports multiple languages at once
  • Open and well-documented source code
  • Tracking of new and old unread topics, not just from your last visit
  • Designed for optimal performance and scalability
  • Multi-media output (XHTML, XML, RSS, WAP)
  • Multi-language support from a large community
  • Package manager that automatically installs or uninstalls mods (also known as hacks) as well as product updates

There is only one glitch in the install and admin procedures worth mentioning; the common situation which all forums seem to suffer from, that there is no working board after installation. Trying to set up the first board, on a new forum program, by a new forum owner, will be the most difficult task faced in connection with forums. This seems common to all forums, and of course should be fixed, but usability is never a priority.

In conclusion, the negatives are common to all forums. This is a very smooth forum solution that deserves its tag as the benchmark in freeware forums. It looks simple, but does many complex things so smoothly it is deceptive. The good points are SMFs mature status and smoothness; its superb plugin system; the vast range of templates; its easy LAMP install; the attractive page layout; the good ACL; the good visitor experience and of course its notably good security recordArticle Submission, in marked contrast to one or two other big-name forums.

The bad points are the Stone Age SEO; the complete lack of any on-page assets; the tricky first board set-up; the occasional session IDs; and the lack of an included manual with the basic download.

Source: Free Articles from ArticlesFactory.com

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