Review of SmartSEF

Richard and his team from Joomlatwork have been busy. Just a couple of weeks after releasing the SEF Patch, which greatly improves Joomla 1.5 metadata, they’ve launched SmartSEF, which greatly improves Joomla 1.5 URLs.

Here’s our review of the beta version:

Why Do You Need Friendly URLs in Joomla 1.5?

To begin with, lets take a look at Joomla 1.5 default URLs:

  • Default URLs: index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=25&Itemid=28

These really have changed little since we cataloged the problems with these URLs in 1.0. So if those are no good, how about the default SEF URLs in 1.5:

  • Default SEF: component/content/article/3-newsflash/42-newsflash-4.html

I’m sure you’ll agree that these are a huge advance over the SEF URLs in the core of 1.0. However, they still have some limitations:

  • numbers in the URLs
  • no choice over the URL suffix (.html, .php, .asp etc.)
  • lack of the advanced options we’re used in component such as sh404SEF

If you’re still not convinced, try “In Defence of Search Engine Friendly URLs“.

My Impressions

  • Easy to Use. Installation is easy and an .htaccess file is provided. In its clean layouts and few, but important options, it reminds me of SEF Advanced. Almost all the configuration options are on a single tabless page.
  • Feature-Rich. it takes the most important options and ideas from sh404SEF. You can remove sections and categories, check for duplicate URLs, log 404 errors and cleanly strip awkward characters from the URLs.
  • Stable. I’ve not had the chance to use it on a live site yet, but during an intensive testing session we built up a database of 5000 URLs and the site did not slow or show any noticeable bugs.

Potential Weaknesses

  • Its Just Launched. Currently there aren’t any plugins available for other components.
  • Uncertain Future. This is also an inevitable problem with a new component. Will it become the default solution for Joomla 1.5 URLs? Both Artio and SEF Advance may rival it soon.


I was very impressed with Smart SEF. Its clear when you first install that this is the work of an experience and talanted development team. For beta software that has had to track a moving target in Joomla 1.5, its hard to imagine in being much better.

Is it ready for live sites? Yes, although mainly for sites that do not use many components. If you want SEF URLs throughout your site, you’ll need to wait for plugins.

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