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Forum applications are server programs that create discussion-based websites. Many are free or open-source PHP codebase applications that use a MySQL database. They are small but complex webapps that generally come in at under 4MB for the zipped installer file. A 'forum' is the word we commonly use, though bulletin board was more popular at one time; and a forum now is usually a container for several different 'boards', which are the actual main-topic start pages.

SMF is my top tip in freeware forums. That doesn't mean it's problem-free, but it does its job, all round, better than any other I've tried.

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. It's 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.


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