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  1. #1
    In memoriam gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy Dan Schulz's Avatar
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    Question Why does everyone hate SMF?

    I know, hate is such a strong word, but I think it is more than applicable in this case. Wherever I go, whether it be here, WebDeveloper.com, DigitalPoint, et cetera, everyone seems to bash SMF, saying it's not secure, it sucks, it doesn't have all the mods that [insert the "l33t" forum package name here] has, "isn't the best by far or by near" (as one person literally wrote in a thread that SMF was recommended in), lacks a whole boatload of skins that (to me anyway) all look the same (nothing more than a color or image change here and there)...

    Now, I don't mean "why does everyone hate SMF compared to vBulletin or other commercial (read: paid) forum scripts," but rather "why does everyone hate SMF compared to phpBB, myBB, wBBLite, and other free offerings?"

    Why? I think we've already established here on SitePoint that among commercial forum scripts (again, commercial being defined as "you have to to pay money in order to use it"), nothing beats vBulletin. But why does SMF get the shaft as far as the free forum scripts are concerned? Is it because it's new (and therefore "unproven"), is it because it has a community that is truely passionate about development of SMF, is it because (despite being free) it has commercial backing (owned by Lewis Media afterall), or are people really hesitant to take it at face value and truely give it a fair chance?

    Now, I could sing the praises of SMF myself (having used it for almost two years now - for the record, I started using SMF on 6 January 2005), but anyone can do that (and if you like, you're more than welcome to). But I really, REALLY, want to know why people HATE it so much. So please, tell me why.

  2. #2
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    I like SMF. Yes, the older versions were lacking, but I am reasonably impressed with their newest release candidates. They are are marked improvements which put it into contention for the highest quality free solution.
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  3. #3
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    Speaking for myself only:

    It lacks the features I need for my big board which only the commercial products can provide. I'm a bit of free software zealot and free software it ain't so for smaller projects I go for something with a license that permits free modification and redistribution. If I can't fork it, I don't want it. People outside the open source community don't understand the degree of animosity that halfway licenses like the SMF license or projects switching from free to non-free (like IPB) can create.

    The default skin is ugly and not suitable for professional use. It would take a lot of work to turn into a demo to show potential clients.

    Compare that to FUDforum. It's developed by a php developer (wonderful proper readable code), GPL (you can do anything with it), and the look just screams suit.

  4. #4
    phpLD Fanatic bronze trophy dvduval's Avatar
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    I don't hate it. It is just that I am so accustomed to vbulletin and phpbb that I don't want to learn how to use a different script.

  5. #5
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    This isn't directed at the OP, Dan, since for all I know, he never said a bad word about any other forum software but, SMF users are not so innocent when it comes to bashing other software so...pot meet kettle. One thing I would credit vBulletin is that they don't allow comparison threads on their site because they know it degenerates into fanboy postings and they simply don't need it.

    BTW, my sense is that the open source community generally prefers GNU/BSD type licensing, so that may have something to do with the dislike. I use SMF on my website and think it's a good script so obviously I don't share those sentiments.
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  6. #6
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    what are some of the features in vbulletin that makes it so good?

    I was thinking of getting it.

  7. #7
    The Mind's I ® silver trophy Dark Tranquility's Avatar
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    I don't hate it I've used it before for some clients! but I still prefer phpBB...

  8. #8
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    SMF is the only way to go! Tranquility, try SMF, you will be so happy you did!

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by geekyideas
    what are some of the features in vbulletin that makes it so good?

    I was thinking of getting it.
    What I need that I've only been able to find in IPB and vb is permission granularity. I want to be able to selectively enable or disable as many features as possible on the basis of usergroup. My dream board would let me control which which usergroups get to use which bb codes. Phpbb3 looks like it's going to be the first free board that can really compete in this area.

  10. #10
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    Velvet, In SMF RC3 you can do any permissions you could ever imagine

  11. #11
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    I like SMF, but the only disadvantage I see is the lack of skins, as compared to phpBB. But I do some decent graphic design work so I usually just change a few things to suit my needs. Those people that can't make their own artwork, are probably put down by this, and go for phpBB instead, which has hundreds of skins, there's even a windows themed one which I thought was pretty cool. Aside from that, I don't see anything else wrong with SMF.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by VelvetElvis
    Compare that to FUDforum. It's developed by a php developer (wonderful proper readable code), GPL (you can do anything with it), and the look just screams suit.
    Interesting. How is it when it comes to modifications? Does it have a plugin system or is it all file edits?
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  13. #13
    Non-Member deathshadow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dchapman
    Interesting. How is it when it comes to modifications? Does it have a plugin system or is it all file edits?
    That's the thing ABOUT SMF that actually makes me favor it over other systems - it HAS a modding system built in, there are mods for it that are reasonably maintained - AND it has a modular skinning system that goes above/beyond what any other board offers.

    Most boards you have to go in and edit the code that handles the board itself JUST to skin certain elements which are inlined - like phpBB. phpBB has to be the WORST for skinning around as the CSS lets you control SOME colors, but most of the fonts and layout are inlined in the php output ALONGSIDE the queries all in one file. Now that's bad policy.

    SMF on the other hand completely isolates /sources from /themes in their own directories - if it touches the database it's in /sources, if it makes html output, it's in /themes... to make your own theme you only have to copy the files you are changing to your theme directory, and it will 'automatically use' the default ones if you don't need to modify them.

    @VelvetElvis - It's surprising to hear that said about SMF's skins, as it's one of the things it's best known FOR. Usually that's my biggest complaint about forum software, with crap like phpBB and it's raging hardon for 8px fonts, there are worse skins out there.

    Though that FUDForum looks promising, though it does have some layout issues on large font systems (I also hate the avatar bar placement)

    As to the original question - it's simple... the lions share of IT managers have been using phpBB, vBulletin or UBB/Infopop for close to a decade now and like anything else, they are hesitant to change gears - especially what is basically a fork of YaBBse, itself a php/mysql fork of the perl based YaBB.

    You can TELL they are too attached to REALLY BAD software like phpBB when they wont even consider changing after the 'Santy' Fiasco of two years ago.

    Both FUDForum and SMF are like alternative browsers compared to Internet Explorer... People aren't switching... Not because there aren't better solutions, but because they are used to what they are already running and they can't be bothered to learn something new as what they are currently using is 'good enough'.

    Comparison to Opera are also apt - as most of the things people 'need' to mod forum software for is already built in! Of course, I consider forum modding to be stupid since doing so usually nueters your upgrade path, making it harder to patch forums BEFORE they get broken into (case in point, the 'fix' that perl.santy exploited was 9 months old but nobody deployed it because the majority had so completely modded their copies of phpBB they COULDN'T upgrade... well, that or they were just lazy)

    This is even MORE true of IT managers, who don't like to deploy anything they don't already know.

    Oh, and Dan, I've not heard anyone argue SMF being insecure... I'd LOVE to get some links on that to rip people new ********. Compared to phpBB with it's security holes (and flawed design philosophy) even UBBthreads/Infopop/whatever they want to call it today is 'secure' - while SMF is a ROCK.

  14. #14
    In memoriam gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy Dan Schulz's Avatar
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    Jason, start looking here on SitePoint under the various forum threads. As for the off-site ones, you'll be getting an IM from me shortly.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by deathshadow
    Both FUDForum and SMF are like alternative browsers compared to Internet Explorer... People aren't switching... Not because there aren't better solutions, but because they are used to what they are already running and they can't be bothered to learn something new as what they are currently using is 'good enough'.
    Haha I absolutley love that description!

  16. #16
    SitePoint Zealot NuWeb's Avatar
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    SMF is simple and easy to use. It is lacking features compared to VB or IPB.
    BUT IS THAT A BAD THING?

    IPB is great, whereas VB (even though most commonly used, is the worst).
    vBulletin admin pannel is packed with a load of crap, too many settings. To much stuff you got to do. It takes AGES to set up properly, and the forum permissions are crap. Then when it comes to editing something, that takes ages also!!!! Try finding one setting in those pages and pages of settings. Summary VB is very bad.

    IPB has same, but more features. BUT IT COSTS.
    So you got PHPBB and SMF.
    PHPBB is too widely used, many vunerabiliies. and not well coded. (not sure about newest version)
    SMF is great, needs better mod/skin community, but apart from that its great.

  17. #17
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    This is ironic. The original question was why are there are so many bashers against SMF and it turns out SMF users are the biggest bashers. Just ironic. Note to fellow SMF users: You don't need to go bashing other software. It makes SMF users look very small and petty and desperate and it makes phpBB and vBulletin look like "the bigger man". If you like SMF, you can say how good it is without bashing other software.
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  18. #18
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    FWIW I dislike installing third party mods on a forum unless I'm 100% clear on what ever line of code does and why it's there and can support them myself or they have official support. That's why there is all that "crap" in vb. People tend to be wary of having their livelihoods depend on the contributions of third parties who can't be depended on for long term support. People who call it bloat do not understand that mods are not an option.

    Anyone who has ever run phpbb and had to wait for mods to be upgraded to install a security fix should understand this. If it's a client site, you can't take that kind of risk. I don't use vb because I don't need a lot of the stuff that it has in it and I'm able to get by with a smaller VPS by not using it. I'm glad it's there if I do though. If you think all that stuff is a pain, that's because vb wasn't made for you. Save your money and use SMF.

  19. #19
    SitePoint Addict Clenard's Avatar
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    SMF is the best free forum Software out right now, period. vBulletin is better but it's a little more expensive.

    Other than that - SMF is the next best thing.

  20. #20
    SitePoint Addict Clenard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by VelvetElvis
    Speaking for myself only:

    It lacks the features I need for my big board which only the commercial products can provide. I'm a bit of free software zealot and free software it ain't so for smaller projects I go for something with a license that permits free modification and redistribution. If I can't fork it, I don't want it. People outside the open source community don't understand the degree of animosity that halfway licenses like the SMF license or projects switching from free to non-free (like IPB) can create.

    The default skin is ugly and not suitable for professional use. It would take a lot of work to turn into a demo to show potential clients.

    Compare that to FUDforum. It's developed by a php developer (wonderful proper readable code), GPL (you can do anything with it), and the look just screams suit.
    As much as I wanted to really give FUDforum a shot - the irony killed it for me... it was developed by a PHP Security Expert and then it had all kinds of Security Issues right when I installed it on a live server. How are the issues coming along with it? It was the most promising of all forums and Ilia did a great job initially, in my opinion... but it just didn't live up to the hype.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by VelvetElvis
    The default skin is ugly and not suitable for professional use. It would take a lot of work to turn into a demo to show potential clients.
    Are you refering to the 1.0 or 1.1 default theme? I agree that the 1.0 default theme is pretty ugly, but I've never heard anyone say that the 1.1 default theme is ugly. It is simple and the blue is almost a cliche for forums, but it isn't ugly.

    It lacks the features I need for my big board which only the commercial products can provide.
    Which features do you need for a big board? As there are fewer big boards it can be hard to know what is needed, so any information would always be greatfully received!

    I'm a bit of free software zealot and free software it ain't so for smaller projects I go for something with a license that permits free modification and redistribution. If I can't fork it, I don't want it. People outside the open source community don't understand the degree of animosity that halfway licenses like the SMF license or projects switching from free to non-free (like IPB) can create.
    We understand that the licence can be a problem. The team has been discussing possibilities of a licence change for the version after 1.1.
    "Never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what
    it might appear to others that what you were or might
    have been was not otherwise than what you had been
    would have appeared to them to be otherwise."

  22. #22
    Non-Member deathshadow's Avatar
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    Wow, almost missed this one - thankfully someone quoted it...

    Quote Originally Posted by VelvetElvis
    People outside the open source community don't understand the degree of animosity that halfway licenses like the SMF license or projects switching from free to non-free (like IPB) can create.
    ... and people INSIDE the open source community don't understand why the naive 'Free as in freedom software or nothing' attitude creates animosity among people who haven't dipped into the FLOSS kool-aid... especially programmers with BUSINESS backgrounds who find the devaluation of the WORK involved in programming TRULY offensive - and hypocritical... (especially when the whole thing was started by Stallman throwing a hissy fit about not getting a cut of something he GAVE AWAY - sorry, my dumbass alarm is going off)

    It's the computing equivalent of being a non-conformist by dressing in all black and listening to Type-O Negative like all the other non-conformists... and about as effective as 'fighting the corporations' by rocking out to a crunchy groove while getting stoned.

    There's a REASON for the 'dirty linux hippie' stereotype.

    Of course, the big issue - and the most obvious for anyone with eyes and a brain - All this talk about choices and freedom, but HOW DARE anyone try to mix free and non-free... Somebody makes a good program I'm willing to pay money for the labor of writing and suddenly it's a cardinal sin... and then the OSS nuts wonder why business majors either laugh at them as 'commie nuts' or worse, rape them for all they are worth and then laugh all the way to the bank making money off other people's unpaid labor. (Why the whole debian vs. Firefox and Oracle rebranded Red Hat REALLY make me chuckle)

    OSS is a great idea, but taking it to the exclusion of anything else is narrow minded, arrogant, and to be honest smacks more of cultish propaganda and social engineering than the 'freedom' flag the die-hard's insist on waving; In fact, the FSF and it's fanboys REALLY need to learn what the word freedom means.
    Last edited by deathshadow; Nov 27, 2006 at 00:57.

  23. #23
    In memoriam gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy Dan Schulz's Avatar
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    Off Topic:

    You and your comics, deathshadow.

  24. #24
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    I've got hair down to my ***, haven't showered in a week, and am far too stoned to bother with responding to ad homonym.

  25. #25
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    More and more people will switch to SMF. I love it.

    Regards,
    Vince.


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