History: The Aquatechnology Era .:
The Beginning (July 18, 1998)
iSoaker.com was originally known as Aquatechnology. The first splash page was designed using CorelDraw 8.0. The use of the crosshair signified both combat and precision. Due to the site's name, a futuristic-looking font was chosen. Transparent layers were being experimented with at the time, resulting in the main menu layout. However, something felt bare about the initial site. Thankfully, very few saw these pages since Aquatechnology's web presence was barely advertised.
Technotes: Small site. Five Super Soakers reviewed. A couple of Tips & Tactics posted.
The First Major Update
(View the 1998 site) Not to make it seem as if the site was not updated much, but the first major update included a minor enhancement of the main page. 1998 was definitely the year of the CPS. As such, the CPS 1000 was chosen to represent the site and be the first Super Soaker one would see upon entering. The CPS 1000 symbolized compact power in a well-designed package. However, Aquatechnology remained basically unknown in the online Super Soaker world with the exception of a couple of more popular sites that had chosen to put links to it.
Technotes: Larger site with more Tips and Tactics added. However, only six Super Soakers reviewed at its launch. Minimal Tips & Tactics posted.
Into the Super Soaker® Webring
Just after the start of 1999 marked a new dawn for Aquatechnology. Aquatechnology joined up with the growing Super Soaker Webring. While working on joining the ring, the site was given a face-lift and expanded quite heavily in terms of its Tips & Tactics section. However, in spite of the page's growth, the layout was kept as clean as possible. Upon Aquatechnology's acceptance into the Super Soaker Webring, hits became more common as exposure was increased. It was at this time that the slogan, "Leave NO one dry!", was adopted by Aquatechnology as the phrase which would identify the site. As the personal collection of Super Soakers increased, Aquatechnology's size grew in completeness.
Technotes: Seven Super Soaker reviews available at the start with more added as each was purchased. Tips and Tactics section reworked and slightly expanded.
Flashing It Up
(View the 1999 site) Mid-August marked the time Aquatechnology would begin its next evolution. Up until then, all images used on the site were static with image maps or pull-downs used for menus. However, with the release of Macromedia Flash 4.0, it was time for Aquatechnology to get away from still images and enter the world of interactive motion. The nice thing about Flash movies is their simplicity to design, built in interactivity (unlike avi, moving gifs or mov files) as well as relatively small file size. In fact, the fully-animated splash logo (with sound) was merely 10kb larger than the previous jpg image! Though this change would require visitors to have Macromedia's Flash player, this was not looked as a hinderance since most browsers already had it installed. Browsers that did not could easily be configued to view the Flash files by downloading and installing the Flash player which, itself, was not a large file.
Technotes: 28 Super Soaker reviews available. Tips and Tactics section had grown to well over 30 sections. Site occupied 1.21Mb divided between 159 files.
Maturing and the Formation of Aquatica
The autumn of 1999 saw the next phase of Aquatechnology's development. In late September, Aquatechnology and AquaNexus (one of the other major Super Soaker Websites) decided to combine resources and knowledge to create Aquatica. Aquatica represented what the Super Soaker Webring had promised but recently had lost touch with. However, beyond its webring, Aquatica also included a Yahoo Club, a message board for general postings and a Super Soaker photo-database which Aquatica member's could access and get pics from if they did not have access to a scanner or digital camera themselves. (This idea had been mentioned before by the creator of the MiB Alliance but never came to fruition.) Aquatica was created to act as a common ground and community to discuss Super Soakers as well as provide small websites access to some of the resources the larger one's had. During the birth of Aquatica, Aquatechnology was already being upgraded, having many of its previous images converted into Flash movies. With these changes, the main splash image was changed again, unifying the colour scheme of the entire site down to blues, yellows and greys. During the upgrade, inner pulldown menus were converted into Flash movies as well to add to the uniformity of the site.
Technotes: 28 Super Soaker reviews when launched with one more added about a week later. Entire site spread over 175 files occupying 1.63Mb.
(View the 2000 site) Year 2000 marked the beginning of a new styling for Aquatechnology. As opposed to the previous versions of the site, each of the four major subsections became represented by an icon for simplicity. In the inner pages, the side menu had been reduced both in file size and actual size making more room for the body of the page. For most of the weaponry reviews, a single Flash file was used such that all information could fit into a 600x600 window without needing to scroll. All Flash movies were streamlined to use up as little file space while retaining their appearance and functionality. (The Splash Flash file became only about 50% the size of the previous movie.) Of course, being made for the year 2000, the CPS 2000 now graced the front page of Aquatechnology. There are, of course, many other changes made to the site but the splash pages gives a good idea of the scope of changes made.
Technotes: Site occupied 2.35Mb spread over 210 files. 42 files were Flash movies. 44 files were still images. 124 files were HTML files.
Spring Cleaning, 2000
Aquatechnology was expanded to include a new section known as "Soaker World". As well, a 5th button was added onto its menu. Aquatechnology was never intended to be a five button site but submissions from Super Soaker® fans from around the world resulted in the reason for the addition of Soaker World. The Soaker World section provides a common page where most submitted ideas, modifications, comments, criticisms could be posted. This section was also created to ensure that visitors would not be confused about which parts of Aquatechnology were done in-house versus which parts were based on email submissions. In addition, the subpage layouts were modified, removing the side menu and expanding the main part of the page to a total width of 600 pixels. The 600 pixel dimension was chosen such that pages with text could be printed on paper without being cut at the edges. Removal of the side menu and its merger with the top graphic allowed more text to fit into less pages (if printed). Many other cosmetic changes were made to the site including the faint blue abstract art in all of the major Flash menus.
Technotes: Site occupied over 3.03Mb spread over 283 files. 49 files are Flash movies. 72 files are still images. 162 files are HTML files.
Aquatechnology wanted to greet the Canadian soaking-season with a redesign of the main-page's layout and a partial restructuring of the site contents. The "News/Updates" was moved onto the main page. The splash Flash image was reduced in area such that more could easily fit into one window. Moving updates onto the main page would allow visitors to quickly determine what changes had occured to the website since they had last visited. It also made updating the news much simpler. The "What's New?" section was renamed as "Info" as its contents was reduced to primarily Aquatechnology site-specific information. A Repair Guide was added to the armoury, making this site even more complete in the different aspects of water blasters explored.
Technotes: Site occupied over 3.61Mb spread over 323 files. The site comprised of 62 Flash files, 77 Still-Image files and 184 HTML files.
Summer, 2000 Update
To break away from simple design, Aquatechnology was reformatted to make more use of the current state of web technology. The Splash page and review pages had their Flash files reformatted, making them look more "techie". The layout of the main page was preserved but the Flash file was widened slightly. Images of the 2000 Super Soaker® line acquired thusfar have all been digitized and posted. Along with these changes, many other subtle changes were made site-wide, including removal of some redundant pages and minimization of other sections. However, Aquatechnology was closed on June 8, 2000 as iSoaker.com was launched.