Joomla SMF forum installation guide

I’ve come across several website where they have integrated Joomla with SMF (Simple Machine Forum). I thought it would be nice to have the two programs together thereby having a same overall look and feel theme when you make your own website. It turns out to be not so difficult to do though initially I had to scratch my head pretty hard to get it working. There were much information out there in the internet but most of the explanation were very general and left me wondering what I did wrong when I followed their steps and instruction.

As it turns out, their instructions were too brief to be of any real guide. Several people who left comments in some forum also had the same problem of trying to integrate the Joomla and SMF component together without much success. And those that were successful only gave brief outline which still left many of us wondering what magic that they actually did.

After much tinkering, installing and uninstalling, reading and scrutinizing the so called instruction, I finally found the correct step to install the SMF component into Joomla though it took me the better part of a day to figure it all out.

For those of you who are still scratching your heads, scratch no more as I give my detailed steps here for your integration. Hopefully it will save you a lot of time! Some steps here may vary because it depends on your web hosting interaction control panel. But basically the steps below will give you the correct steps.

Required: You must have already installed Joomla into your website. This is easily installed if your web hosting provider provides you with the Fantastico auto-installs, like the BlueHost web hosting provider which I am using.

[Check out my Joomla-SMF evaluation page at Joomla-SMF Forum experimental page to have a look when you have successfully integrate it.] Sorry! I have decided to uninstall Joomla 1.0. Not planning to try integrating it with Joomla 1.5 (30/Oct/2008)

Step 1: Obtain the MySQL variables

You need to install the SMF forum on the same database as Joomla. To do that you will need the following three variables. Go to the file manager of your web hosting control panel and look for this file (it is located in the root folder of your Joomla installation, ie if you install Joomla in your_domain.com/cms, then find it in the /cms folder):

configuration.php

Open the file and search for these variables – username, password and database name that are used by the MySQL and copy and paste them to a text file. Reason for copy and paste is that you can just paste the variable when you install the SMF script and avoid any typos thereby rendering your installation unusable.

$mosConfig_user
$mosConfig_password
$mosConfig_db

Step 2: Obtain and upload the SMF installation files

Download the latest version 2.0 of SMF installation zip file. Next go to your web hosting control panel file manager and create a folder. Name it forum or smf or anything you like and upload the zip file into that directory. Use your file manager to extract all the files into that directory which you have upload the file. I’m using the BlueHost web hosting in build file manager and it has this feature. If you are using another web hosting provider this feature may or may not be available. In which case, you may have to do the tedious work of extracting all the files into your PC and ftp all the files into your website.

Here’s a caveat, do not extract the files into the same directory of Joomla. It won’t install because it will clash with the Joomla installation script! I have tried it and it was really messy when I had to delete the files from the Joomla directory.

Step 3: Install the SMF manually.

Goto the folder where you have extracted or placed your SMF files. Look for the install.php file. To execute it, open your browser, and key in the url. e.g. your_website.com/forum/install.php where your_website is the name of your website and forum is where you have extracted all your smf files.

When the page shows up, key in your details and the three MySQL variables which you have copied earlier. Use copy and paste especially for the password to avoid typos. This will install the SMF onto the Joomla database instead of creating a new database separate by itself. Without this step you can’t get it to work in Joomla.

Once the installation is complete you can now view the SMF forum on its own sub folder. You now need to integrate the SMF forum into Joomla by using a bridge.

Step 4: Install the Joomla-SMF bridge.

Goto this website to download the latest Joomla-SMF bridge installation files:

http://www.joomlahacks.com/joomla/components/Joomla-SMF_Forum/

You may need to register in order to download the files.

Login to your Joomla administration control panel.
Goto -> Installers -> Components

In the upload package file, browse for the Joomla-SMF file which you have downloaded and click upload file & install.

Once it is done, you may click continue or click continue with installation page. To go to the Joomla-SMF installation page yourself:

Goto -> Components -> Joomla-SMF Forum -> Install

Key in the SMF Absolute Path:
e.g.:
/home/your_id/public_html/joomla/forum
/home/your_id/public_html/forum

where
your_id is the id assign to you by your web hosting provider
/joomla is where you installed your Joomla files
And /forum is where you have installed your SMF forum files
/public_html is your root folder of your own website
The above is just an example so please check or recall where you have installed your files.

Key in the SMF Database Prefix which the default is “smf_”. You don’t have to change this normally unless you have changed the prefix during your SMF installation in step 3 above.

Click the “SAVE” button. Once the page refreshes, you are now ready to do patching if there are no error message displayed. If there are any errors referring to the Absolute Path and Database Prefix please check whether the path is pointing correctly to the SMF installed location and try to remember whether what prefix you used during the SMF installation in Step 3. If the error displayed refers to the “SMF Forum installed on the same database as Joomla” it means Step 3 was not done correctly. Possibly you may have key in the wrong MySQL variables. In which case uninstall the bridge and SMF and start all over again.

Once the patching is completed, there should be a “Forum” in your Joomla navigational bar. Click it and see whether it works. If yes, congratulations and give yourself a pat on your back!

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4 Responses to “Joomla SMF forum installation guide”

  1. Ian says:

    thank you so much for writing this. i was having a nervous breakdown with this smf thing. NO ONE said anything about having to actually do anymore than installing the bridge part until i read this

  2. Ian says:

    Grrr, i have errors and still no forum but joomla says it is installed! what the hell is going on?

  3. Ian says:

    When i click to patch the joomla source files i get this error “Catchable fatal error: Object of class JVersion could not be converted to string in /…/…/….com/…../htdocs/administrator/components/com_smf/admin.smf.class.php on line 1998” !! help me?

  4. Jan says:

    The above works with the older Joomla version 1.0. If you use the newer Joomla version 1.5 and above it may or may not work. I’m no longer using Joomla so I have no idea. Nowadays I prefer to use separate CMS/forum installation at least if one crashes it won’t pull down the other installation. If you want all-in-one (CMS/blog/forum), try BuddyPress or Drupal.

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