This tutorial will cover reviewing the SMF admin center, managing the SMF board, managing packages, managing newsletters, paid subscriptions and maintaining your SMF forum.
Reviewing the SMF Admin Center and Support Credits
This section will guide us through the process on how to review the Support and Credits information and what additional information for our forum we can find under the Administration Center section. In order to be able to access the administration section, you will have to login as the admin of your forum and the first page after the successful authentication is the Administration Center section. To check the Support and Credits page navigate to Administration Center>Support and Credits.
To understand how to review the SMF admin center, you will have to review these sections:
Step 1: Administration Center
Step 2: Support and Credits
Step 1 Administration Center
One of the first boxes that we are able to check right after login as administrator of the Simple Machines Forum is the Support Information box. From this box we are able to check the Version Information and Forum Administrators. If we click on the (more detailed) link we will be redirect to page where we can check in details the version of every file for the application. The other link we can click is the Administrator, this will redirect us to a page where we are able to check our profile as regular user.
Step 2 Support and Credits
On this page we are able to see several sections:
- Support Information Here we are able to check again the SMF application version and server information such as MySQL, PHP and Alternative PHP cache version
- Support Resources This includes links to the SMF wiki and a range of support boards to assist you with finding any information you may need to help you with any aspect of your forum
- Common support & Issues This section contains information for your current version of the application
- Credits This section serves as a thanking notice to all of the volunteers who have assist for the development of the application. Each of the members and their role is stated in this section
Manage Boards in SMF
Now, we learn how to to review the settings and features of the boards in SMF. In order to access the boards management page first you should login as administrator of your forum and then navigate to Administration Center>Boards.
Edit your categories and boards here. List multiple moderators as "username", "username". (these must be usernames not display names!)
To create a new board, click the Add Board button. To make the new board a child of a current board, select "Child of..." from the Order drop down menu when creating the board.
Create New Category
On this page you can create a new category on your forum. Supply a name for the category, choose a placement for the whole category using the order listbox, and choose if it can collapse. Collapsing means showing only the category title, hiding any of the category's boards which would normally be displayed below the title. With collapsing enabled, clicking on the category title will toggle between displaying and hiding the category boards.
- Membergroups allowed to manage boards and categories - Check the boxes for which groups you would like to have the ability to manage the boards and categories
- Count child's posts in parent's totals - Checking this option will mean that posts and topics in a board child board (sub-board) will count toward its totals on the Board Index. This does not include grandchild boards (sub-subboards)
- Enable recycling of deleted topics - Checking this will make it so your forum "recycles" deleted topics and posts. The relevant statistics are updated when posts are deleted and the deleted posts are no longer visible where they were before. However, these deleted posts can be viewed for reference in the board you specify in the setting directly below this one
- Board for recycled topics - Select a Board you wish to store deleted posts in. Choose a board to act as the recycle bin. If this field is left blank, posts will not be recycled
- Allow boards to be ignored - Checking this option will allow users to select boards they wish to ignore.
Manage Packages in SMF
Now we eamine how to browse, download, install, view the installed packages, file permissions and options. In order to access the package management menu you should log in as administrator of your forum and then navigate to Administration Center>Package Manager. On the following pages you can download and install modifications to your forum via easy to use interface.
In the Browse Packages section of the package manager, you will see all of the packages that are currently downloaded on to your forum under the Browse Packages section. You can install/uninstall them, view details of a package, and delete packages.
At the bottom of the Browse Packages section there is a link located on the right-hand side of the page. Clicking this will add an additional box to the page which allows you to emulate your version of SMF to another version temporarily. Just type exactly the version you want to emulate in the input box next to Emulate Version and click Apply. This is useful if a mod is set to only install for specific versions of SMF but you are certain the mod will still work with your version. Afterwards, use the Revert link to stop emulating another SMF version.
The Download Packages section of the package manager provides tools for loading and installing a package and for using the package server browser. To download a package is to obtain it from some place it is stored. In some cases, the package may be downloaded directly to your forum. In other cases, it must be first downloaded to your PC, then uploaded from the same to your forum.
Selecting the Browse button next to a server in the package servers list allows the viewing of the available packages on the package server. If this feature does not work, uploading a package may be used. The Delete button is used to remove a package server listing.
To add a package server to the list, we should type in a server name (e.g. SMF Mod Site) and a URL (e.g.http://example.com/mods), then select the add server button.
Download a package by URL
Download a package by URL is a quick way to download a package from the web to a forum. URL - The exact URL of the desired modification package. Name of the file – This is an optional value. Should be used when the url does not end in the filename. For example: index.php?mod=5
Upload a Package
This feature is used to upload a package from your local PC to the forum. The Browse button is used to navigate to the package file on your personal PC and then upload it to the forum. After the uploading is successfully completed, we can immediately apply the package or to use browse packages to install it at a later time.
If you prefer you can upload the package or a directory full of package files to your Packages directory, using FTP.
There are two ways of uploading your files to the server - using an FTP client, following our FTP tutorial, or uploading directly through your cPanel account > File Manager, following our cPanel tutorial.
On this page we are able to view the installed mods and the files which are included in every mod. We can uninstall any mods that we do not want at the moment.
We can select the Delete Mod List button at the bottom of the page to clear the list of mods we have installed, however we do not recommend it.
We can use this section to review the writable and readable status of important files and directories within the forum directory. Change File Permissions
We can apply individual file permissions settings which we have selected from above.
Settings for FTP Server, Username and Port are used by SMF to make an FTP connection in order to complete certain package installations. The Create Backup versions of replaced files with a tilde (~) on the end of their names checkbox instructs SMF to save a backup version of any file that is changed or replaced during installation.
How to Manage Newsletters and Announcements in SMF
We now look at the options and settings of the news and newsletter section in Simple Machine Forum application. In order to access the news and newsletter section you should login as administrator of your forum and then navigate to Administration Center>News and Newsletter. Please place one news item per box. BBC tags, such as [b], [i] and [u] are allowed in your news, as well as smileys. Clear a news item's text box to remove it.
The “News” page
This feature provide us with the ability to display a short news message. When the SMF is installed by default there is a SMF - Just Installed message. You can create your own message, just click on the Click here to add another item after you write the message press the Save button under the section.
The “Newsletters” page
This feature is very suitable if you need to send an email to a some or all members of your forum. You can check to whom you would like to send email from the checkboxes under the Membergroups. After we are ready with the selection of members we can proceed to the Advanced section of the Newsletters page. On this page we are able to see several options:
Email Addresses - Here we can add additional email addresses to send them the newsletter too
Members - We can add additional members to receive the newsletter
Excluded Groups/Members - Here you can select groups or members that absolutely can not receive the newsletter under any condition
Override Notification Settings - Send this to members even if they have chosen not to receive announcements
The “Settings” page
On this page the administrator of the forum can change the settings and permissions related to news and newsletters.
- Groups allowed to edit news items - Select a groups that you would like to allow to add and edit news items
- Groups allowed to send out forum newsletters - Select a groups that you would like to allow to send newsletters
- Enable XML/RSS news - Allows people to link to the RSS feeds of recent posts made on your forum
- Maximum message length - Here you can specify the maximum amount of characters to show for each RSS feed item.
Create Paid Subscriptions in SMF
Paid subscription is a method to give forum benefits to your users in exchange for a monetary donation or payment. With this function, you can choose the name of the donation, amount, and a membergroup that will be automatically assigned to the subscribed user, as well as other options.
Once you have set up subscriptions, your forum members will be able to buy the subscriptions from Profile → Actions → Paid Subscriptions.
Enabling the Paid Subscriptions
The subscriptions must be enabled first. This can be done by going to to Administration Center → Configuration → Core Features and selecting the Paid Subscriptions option.
PayPal is currently the only payment service supported by SMF.
It is not necessary to enable Instant Payment Notification (IPN) in your PayPal account for paid subscriptions to work. Your forum sends a notify_url, which contains the return url, when it posts a payment to PayPal. This overrides the account IPN settings, and PayPal will send an IPN to your forum regardless of the account settings. If you enable IPN, you will receive an IPN when any payment is made to the account for any reason. If the forum receives an IPN for a payment unrelated to paid subsciptions, it will generate an error, and send an error email to admins if notification is enabled.
- Send Notification Emails - Inform the admin when a subscription automatically is paid or changes
- Email for Correspondence - Comma separated list of addresses to which email notifications are sent in addition to other forum admins
- Select Currency - Selects the currency USD, EUR, GBP, etc.
- Enable test mode - This puts the paid subscriptions into "test" mode, which will, wherever possible, use sandbox payment methods in PayPal, Authorize.net etc. Note: The "test" mode must be disabled to make real payments
- Paypal email address - The email address which that links the PayPal account. Leave blank if you do not wish to use paypal. Primary PayPal email address - If different for business account.
SMF Forum Maintenance
Maintening your SMF forum and any other website you manage is a good practise as it will make sure that your website stays optimized properly for better performance and security.
The maintenance options that you have are:
Step 1: Forum Maintenance
Step 2: Scheduled Tasks
Step 1 Forum Maintenance
You have different options for the forum maintenance. The first thing to do is to access your SMF installation as administrator. Click on the Admin button from the main menu and then select the Maintenance tab and Forum Maintenance.
The first option you can use for the maintenance of your website is called Routine. It will offer the following:
- Check all files against current versions - Running this task will tell you which of your files need to be upgraded
- Find and repair any errors - Running this task will search for any possible errors in your database. Usually, these errors are caused by improper conversions, modifications gone wrong, or data corruption. It is a good idea to check this once in a while, just in case. Recount all forum totals and statistics - Running this task will recount the number of posts and topics in each board, the number of personal messages each member has, and a few other statistics
- Empty out unimportant logs - Running this task empties a few of the less important log tables. This is not necessary, unless you really want to save database space
- Empty file cache - Running this task will empty out the files generated by SMF for caching purposes
The second tab for the SMF maintenance is for your Database. It offers the following options:
- Optimize all tables to improve performance - Running this task will get rid of overhead, effectively making the tables smaller in size and your forum faster! Note that it causes SMF to instruct the database to attempt to re-analyze and re-optimize the tables in your database, so it is not a good idea to run this too often, because it can take a long time
- Backup Database - This area allows you to save a copy of all the posts, settings, members, and other information in your forum to a very large file. For larger forums, this backup may not be able to backup your entire database, in which case you may want to backup your data by other means, such as using phpmyadmin, or some other database backup utility
- Convert HTML-entities to UTF-8 characters - Running this task will convert your character set for both your database and data to UTF-8. This should be run with caution, as it is not desirable in all cases. Upon clicking this link you will receive more information on the effects of converting to UTF-8. SMF will attempt to detect your character set for your data, but if you know your data character set is different from the one which is detected, you can change it using the dropdown menu next to Data character set. This option is only available if SMF detects a compatible database version
The third option for the maintenance of your SMF website is for the Members. You can do the following:
- Reattribute User Posts - This function assigns a guest's posts to a specific registered user based on the email address or the username used to post
- Remove Inactive Members - This function allows the removal of inactive users. It is possible to delete all users who have not logged in for a defined period of time, or who have not activated the account. It is also possible to select to prune only one or more membergroups
The last option for the maintenance of SMF is for the Topics. You can:
- Remove Old Posts - This allows admins to remove old topics that have not been posted in for the specified number of days. It is possible to narrow down the posts to delete by selecting from removing any type of topic, moved topic notices, or locked topics. The option But don't count stickied topics prevents the removal of topics which have been stickied. Additionally, expanding the All Boards link, and checking boards, will ensure that topics will be removed only from those boards which have been selected. Please note that this is a manual process, so it will not be repeated automatically. Move Topics - This allows you to move all the topics in one board to another
Step 2 Scheduled Tasks
SMF comes with its own version of a scheduler. This is called scheduled tasks. The forum comes with several tasks installed by default, but you may have a greater number, depending on the customizations you have installed. SMF's scheduled tasks rely on people visiting your forum. If you have a busy forum, the tasks will generally be run on time. If you do not have a busy forum, the tasks will be run the next time someone visits your forum.
Tasks are organized by task name, next due, regularity, and enabled. There is also another column for run now which allows you to select tasks to be run straight away instead of their next due time. The task name shows the name and a short description of the task, as well as a link to edit the task. Next due gives you a time based on the server's set time of when this task will be executed. Regularity is how often the task will run when enabled. Enabled is a check box which will enable or disable the task.
The first option that you have is called the Scheduled Tasks. By selecting the task's name on the Scheduled Tasks screen, you will be brought to the edit window. This is where you can change information about the tasks. Remember, all times are based on the server time. The options you have are:
- Task name - The name of the task. Beneath the name is a short description of the task
- Interval - How often the task should be run
- Start time - Time the first instance of the day should start (hours:minutes)
- Enabled - Enable this task to be run
The second option is for the Task Log. It will list the logs of the tasks that have been executed. The list explains which task was run (task name), when it was run (time run), and how long it took to run it (time taken). Take note that all times are based on the server's time, which may be different from the time settings for the member viewing the log.