Simple Machines Forum

  Image: Club Sony Ericsson mobile  Simple Machine Forums (SMF) is free server software for hosting a user forum. The reason why I’m writing about SMF on Wap Review is that every SMF forum by default, is a mobile site. This a great feature and I think as the mobile web continues to grow in popularity more and more server packages will offer this sort of built in mobile version. I first saw this trend with Microsoft’s Live Spaces (review) blog platform and now there’s SMF.

Some of the sites using SMF are mobile oriented like (mobile forum), The SMS Forum (mobile) and (mobile site). But what really makes the built in mobilisation of SMF so great is that it’s not limited to sites with a mobile phone focus. There are hundreds of SMF forums and they’re all hosting a mobile edition. A quick Google search turned up over a hundred, including the following sample of just a few of the many mobile forums with non-mobile subject matter:

  Image: Friendster Forum

Sure, there are mobile plugins for many web platforms like the wp-mobile plugin for WordPress or WiForums for phpBB and several other forum platforms. But a plugin requires extra steps to install and that’s only going to happen if the forum or blog host has some awareness of the mobile web. Including built in mobile support with web application platforms like Spaces and SMF is a kind of a stealth feature that expands the mobile web into new areas. The full web is a success largely because of its long tail – the great variety of obscure and arcane sites of that are each individually of interest to only a few, but collectively have a bigger audience than the largest sites. Stealth mobile sites like Spaces and SMF are helping to create a mobile long tail too.

SMF was launched in 2004 and seems to be rapidly gaining popularity as a forum platform. Available in 21 languages, SMF is highly customizable with many themes and mods available. Users have given SMF very good reviews, citing it’s ease of installation, administration and customization.

So how do you locate these stealth forums? Obviously some sites like provide links to the mobile forums off the main site. But most SMF sites aren’t on mobile topics and their owners may not even be aware that they are hosting a mobile site. Google’s mobile search is indexing many of the SMF mobile pages so they turn up in a variety of topic searches. If you want to search Google only for SMF forums, try the query allinurl: ?wap2 which will find over a hundred of them. The reason that query works is that SMF will return a mobile WAP2 page if you add ?wap2 to the end of the url of any SMF page. So if there is a forum you frequent you can try adding ?wap2 to the end of the forum’s url and see if you get a mobile page. SMF also outputs iMode if you add ?imode to the end of the url. There’s even WAP1 (wml) support with ?wap but it doesn’t seem to work properly on most SMF sites, returning a page with proper wml markup but the wrong (text/html) mime type. The WAP2 support is flawless with valid markup, spliting of long pages and good use of access keys.

13 thoughts on “Simple Machines Forum

  1. Hello everyone. Please how do i make my forum mobile compactible? When people view it on mobile, it does’t give them the register option. How do i solve this problem?

    • That’s a limitation of SMF’s mobile version. Users will have to register with a PC. If you have sufficient PHP skills (or can hire someone who does) you could probably add a registration option. Try asking for help or tips on the SMF community forum.

  2. Hello,

    The forum on my site is served by you. I can barely get to it let alone access the places on my forum I need to get to. Please let me know what is going on.

    Walk In Balance,

  3. Hello all. Using the smf forrum on wap (using the imode option) i found that replying from any post, the subjet of the response is always the last used, looks like the field subject is cached and not replaced when a new reply is made. I have tried to delete the cache but it doese’t work.

    Any idea?


  4. I’ve been running SMF forumfor over two years now and it’s absolutely the best free forum software out there. I have four forums running on it but I’ve tried YaBB, PHPBB and Invision but SMF has the best platform in my opnion because it’s so highy customizable. The wap feature is phenomenal for admins such as myself who travel a lot and need remote access.

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  6. Yeah, it’s a unique feature of SMF. I believe they’ve had this feature since SMF was launched (2004, like you mentioned)

    “there are hundreds of SMF forums”
    Hundreds? A search for “powered by smf” in Google has 1.5 million results!

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