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Simple Machines Forum

Software Review

of the New

Version 2.1

You might have heard about the Simple Machines Forum software which is one of the most popular discussion forum software platforms available on the market.

Unlike forum software such as vBulletin and XenForo which cost money, Simple Machine Forum software is free to those who wish to use it.

Simple Machines Forum Software recently had a major version upgrade to version 2.1. This new version released many new added features and development upgrades to the core software.

I recently downloaded and installed Simple Machine Forum to test drive the new version release. I’ve used previous versions in the past. In order to help you make a sound decision on potentially using the software, I wanted to write this extensive and detailed review of the software.


What is Simple Machines Forum Software?

Simple Machines Forum is an online community software platform where a discussion forum is its core feature. The software became available in 2007 under Lewis Media, Inc. Eventually the forum was split to create its own company as Simple Machines, Inc.

In 2010, the company was registered in Nevada as a Non-Profit Organization. In 2011, the Simple Machines, Inc was dissolved as the non-profit was now established. Simple Machines is now a member ran organization with bylaws and a Board of Directors.

The forum software is the only project of the organization, and it is free to everyone and open-source software. Simple Machines Forum Software is used by many different online communities all across the internet.


What are the Features of Simple Machines Forum Software?

The core forum software is PHP and requires a MySQL, SQLite, or PostgreSQL databases. The software should be able to perform on most web hosting platforms. As the forum grows, the server resources will need to be upgraded as with any forum software.

The forum software features a modern threaded discussion forum system where users can post new topics, reply to topics, reply with quotes to topics, and attach polls, images, attachments, smileys, and Bulletin Board Code (BBC) to posts/threads.

The forum software features a registration system, member profile system, notification settings, security settings, and privacy settings. Members can upload avatars and submit basic profile information to display to users that they choose to display too based on their privacy settings.

The forum features an administrative control panel where admins can adjust forum settings, anti-spam settings, languages, themes, modifications (package manager), boards and categories, posts and topics, calendar, search, emoticons, attachments, logs, stats, members and groups, member permissions, warnings/bans, paid subscriptions, forum maintenance, and reports.


What’s New in Simple Machines Forum Software 2.1?

A new WYSIWYG editor has been added. The editor is SCEditor. Real-time alerts in addition to email notifications has been added. A new default theme with a better mobile/responsive theme has been added to the software. You can now create and save draft messages in Private Message. You can use the @username to create mentions like on social media platforms. You can drag and drop attachments from your computer/device to the forum. Attachments can also be directly embedded into the text on the post.

For the backend, new features have also been added in this release. The admin control panel has been improved. Support for moderator groups has been added, not just individuals. Two-factor authentication and other account security features have been added. IPv6 support has been added. GDPR compliance features have also been added. Expansion of modification hooks have been added. More BBCode features have been added. And some background and developer features have been added as well.


What do I like about the new Simple Machines Forum Software?

I like the fact that the software is continuing to keep it simple as their name states. Many premium forum software platforms a featured stuffing. This is a term I use to describe adding more features than needed. It is important to understand that when you add a new feature, three things occur. (1) You create additional backdoors to the software which will require security attention (2) You make the software bigger which can slow it down and (3) many of the feature take member attention away from the forum and to the feature. Simple Machine Forum Software has created a simple forum software and they have continued to live up to their name.

I like that they added much needed modern features. Real-time alerts, mentions, and the mobile-friendly default theme are my favorite new features. Let’s face it, more people are using their smartphone to access the internet than computers these days. Non-mobile friendly software is obsolete, so I really applaud Simple Machines Forum for taking that step. Mentioning feature are also a nice touch because they expand the community encourage engagement which is what forums need these days. Obviously, real-time alerts can help keep members active on the forum during their visit. This will be especially useful for larger and active discussion forums.

For the backend, I appreciate the new GDPR and two-factor authentication feature additions. I’m not living in Europe, but I definitely want to cater to those who are. With GDPR compliance features, I can do that without too much concern. Internet safety and privacy is important, and I feel that this feature helps forum owners’ emphasis on that importance. And with that, account security is also very important. I use Two-Factor on most accounts that have it available. There are too many bad people out there that want to do bad things. Anything to further protect your account is a good thing.


What do I dislike about the new Simple Machines Forum Software?

I really don’t dislike anything about the new version. But I do dislike some things about the overall forum software. I dislike the SEO-friendly URL system. It needs to be friendlier as in using keyword from the created content. I would love to see a WordPress permalink styled setup than what they have now.

I found it funny that they still had default profile fields for ICQ. I mean I understand it is still around, but does anyone actually use it anymore? I forgot all about ICQ until the day I installed this software. In all honesty, I think forum software platforms should clear most profile fields and just let the downloader decide on which custom fields to add.


Would I Recommend Simple Machines Forum Software Over Other Software?

Yes and no. For free forum software choices, yes. Simple Machines Forum Software is the only free software that I have heard about being recently updated. It is also one of the few forum software platforms with premium membership capabilities allowing by default, users of the software to be able to make money with their forum. I remember a MyBB developer telling me once that MyBB will never have a paid upgrades default feature. I think that is wrong. People should be able to make money with a forum. I applaud Simple Machines Forum for that feature. Simple Machines Forum seems to be updating their software.

The no part is determined if you have money to spend or not. If you do, I’d recommend you go with a paid forum software such as XenForo. Nothing against Simple Machines Forum Software but a paid software is going to get you more modern features (although some are not really needed) plus the support of being a paid customer. I found the Simple Machines Forum Software support community difficult to be active on. Some areas I can’t post on and in order to get full posting abilities, I need to post more but the areas where you could post are restricted. That’s their policy though and even though I found it unfriendly, it is their choice.

But I’d use Simple Machines Forum Software over any other free forum software available today, for sure, and I totally recommend it to people who do not want to pay for a forum software.


Thanks for checking out my review of the Simple Machines Forum Software. If you have enjoyed this review, please share it with others. Comment below and tell me what you think of the Simple Machines Forum Software. Why would you or would you not use it?



Founder, Forum Tips Blog

Howdy! My name is Shawn and I founded ForumTips.Blog! I created this blog to share my 20+ years of message forum knowledge with other community administrators and moderators. Learn about useful topics here such as managing, marketing, profiting, and sustaining your message forum community!