Well hello there!. Welcome to the new SFFReview.com! Built from the ground up by our magnificent coders, we present the new home of everything small form factor.
Now, for a little bit of history. Back in 2007 Craig Brugger began a site known as LOSIAS.net, as a home for his projects, beginning with Project, you guessed it, LOSIAS. LOSIAS stood for Lots Of Stuff In A System, and that’s a statement we still stand by today. Small Form Factor is a high density computing system. Lots of power, performance and potential in a small box that takes up very little room.
Slowly LOSIAS.net grew to be a home for SFF modding projects, with many awesome builds calling the forum home. As time passed, new faces joined the team – Jordan Stewart (j0rd), Steven A. Hall (looseneutral), Jon Seppänen (ashtefere), Danelle Vivier (razer2007), Michael Salsman (armourcore9brker) and myself, John Morrison (confusis). Eventually this team got together and worked out a plan for a new look, and more features. A new LOSIAS.net was born.
in 2011, ITXGamer joined the family, bringing with it new opportunities and a new focus. Some discussions followed, and a secret plan for a new brand, and a stronger focus on SFF was formed. This plan was started in early 2013, with the acquisition of the sffreview.com name. After months of hard work by our coding team (Ashtefere and j0rd) and the design team (CraigBru and confusis), we now have this result you see before you. Spectacular isn’t it?
I talked to the code and design team to see what inspired them:
First of all, who are you?
Craig Brugger: I sort of fell into computer modding over 7 years ago when I bought a Shuttle SN25P barebones computer. At the time modding was still pretty young, but after I got that little shoebox home, I couldn’t stop thinking about all the ways I could make it better. I ended up adding an Alphacool LCD display and custom machined aluminum front panel. The overwhelming response from the ‘Alpha Blue’ project lead directly to LOSIAS, and every iteration of overkill since. Although modding is still a passion of mine, I’ve managed to find time to work on other side projects related to my love of all things Jeep. Endlessly enduring my obsessions, are my supportive wife, two daughters, and a stepson.
Jon Seppänen: Hi, I’m Jon Seppanen, one half of Endoframe and a more than slightly crazy Joomla developer. I’m also a modder from way back. Anything from SFF, atx-in-matx, laptop, monitor, etc, I have done it.
John Morrison: I’m a long time listener first time caller….wait what? Nevermind. I’m one of SFFReview’s writers and editors, as well as a friendly moderator and media contact. I also organise event sponsorship when appropriate. I’m from little ol’ New Zealand, have two children aged 3 and 4, and am a full time student in a Computing Degree. I’m a modder, a gamer, and a designer.
So, what was the overall aim for this re-design?
Craig Brugger: We really wanted something different from the norm. All of us being tech guys, we spend countless hours reading other sites. Most of them are really only marginally different from each other. We started out that way as well, but soon realized that a clean slate was in order. It’s all about the user, and if the user doesn’t find something clean and functional, they simply won’t visit. We want everyone to feel at home here.
Jon Seppänen: We felt that SFFReview was a chance to reboot content heavy web design. Everything out there has so much unused whitespace and expanses of emptiness, with all their content clustered into tiny little blocks trying to look modern.
With SFFReview we completely forgot everything we knew about conventional design and started from scratch. What goes where and why was very important, and iterative processes of shaving off unneeded parts and hiding the needed stuff in plain sight finished it all off.
John Morrison: We were hoping to pull ourselves ahead of the curve, breaking all ties with the older platforms we used. I think we achieved that.
What is the new system built on, and why this choice?
Craig Brugger: The new site is based on Joomla and Kunena cores, with a completely custom and hand coded theme. You’ll not find this anywhere else. Using those platforms have allowed us a degree of functionality you can’t get with any ‘preboxed’ or packaged solution.
Jon Seppänen: The core is Joomla and Kunena, but that’s where it ends. All of the forward facing stuff is completely custom and written from scratch. Even the plugins were rewritten!
John Morrison: I think it was time to move on from the old systems we had used – they had issues with what we were wanting to achieve and held us back.
Why rebuild instead of iterative changes?
Craig Brugger: To be honest, we were headed in the direction of being reiterative. I’d spent money on a few plugins and addons for vBulletin, when it suddenly hit me. We just weren’t going to end up with the results we wanted. I literally hopped in IRC one night, and said “Wipe it guys”, and there was no turning back. Jon had really been pushing Joomla, but prior to that I hadn’t wanted to make such a large overhaul. Needless to say, he got his wish. Haha, we have gained a site, but he may have lost his sanity.
John Morrison: I think Jordan’s usual greeting sums this up nicely – *BOOM*
How much of a challenge was building this new platform?
Craig Brugger: Other than hopping in IRC and pointing out what I hated, it wasn’t a challenge at all… :D Seriously though, I’m not a coder, but I’m not oblivious to the countless hours put in here to make the changes needed. There may be small tweaks here and there going forward, but I’m really happy with what the other guys accomplished.
Jon Seppänen: See my previous answer.
What will the new platform offer to our readers in performance, features and usability?
Craig Brugger: Faster, cleaner, and media-centric. We wanted the content easily seen and read, and we wanted a natural flow to the commenting and posting. It’s a tricky balance, and some may say we’ve taken a bit of a risk compared to the traditional content and forum ecosystem. However, I’m confident that we headed in the right direction.
Jon Seppänen: Currently the Site and Forum are probably the fastest on the net (with content included). Just take a look, it’s quite zippy.
Where to from here – what updates and upgrades do you see being performed in the near future?
Craig Brugger: We’ll continue tweaking things here and there as needed, but anything significant will be the result of user feedback. Please let us know what you think of the design and feature set, and we’ll take it under consideration.
Jon Seppänen: Large chunks of the site are still unfinished but they are in the dark corners where you can’t see me working. No spotlights or camera flashes, please!
What does this new design offer our supporters – advertisers, manufacturers?
Craig Brugger: The modern and fresh platform will showcase featured content front and center.
Jon Seppänen: Fast, modern, new! Also, it’s fast!
We hope that this new design brings you, our readers, pleasure in viewing, and that it entices you back for more in the future! Let us know what you think in the comments below.