Welcome back Pilots! It feels like it’s been an age since my last update but here goes…
Easter & April Fools Day special events!
As per tradition here at FsHub and since we introduced the flight achievements feature, throughout the year we design and publish various “Special Events” for important days of the year or dynamic “world events”.
With Easter weekend approaching, we (or more specifically, JimG) have designed and published an Easter-themed event that will run over the Easter weekend (for two weeks), virtual pilots from all over the world, flying on FsHub will visit Jerusalem in a Christian-themed event. More information on this event can be found on the special event page.
For April Fool’s day, we also took this opportunity for pilots to test their skills – yep, Cody devised a special/unique achievement and reached out to me to “make it possible” – I’ve spent several hours implementing new “requirements” that will see this “foolish” achievement made possible – I’m not going to give away any spoilers but rest assured, it’ll be fun (and probably challenging)… We’re not sure that may of you pilots would have attempted this before 😉
So do keep an eye out for when these achievements go live – The April Fools day one will go live around 00:00 (UTC) on the day (1st of April) and will run for one week!
Progress on the new LRM client
I know that I may have mentioned this before but development up to this point has been arduous, to say the least – ensuring that the next generation of the LRM client meets (and exceeds) the current performance of the existing LRM client, some annoying “bugs” that exist in the current client (specifically the aircraft manager duplication issue) are squashed and ability to retain flight information if the simulator crashes have been the top of my priority list.
To date, I’ve spent literally hundreds of hours (probably over a thousand actually!) working and fine-tuning the new LRM client that not only includes a modern UI but also supports multiple backend data connectors (SimConnect, X-Plane’s SDK and the trusty FSUIPC) and new features.
Whilst I massively underestimated the timescale for this to come to be released and work is still ongoing – the majority of which is simply flight testing across all simulators in my test environment and fine-tuning for performance at this stage.
I honestly wish I had a “hard date” for release at this point but I’m still fine-tuning the different data connectors behind the scenes and for lower-end hardware too – at this present time, getting consistent performance between all three is causing me a slight headache (SimConnect works differently to that of FSUIPC and the X-Plane API) – hence taking a couple of weeks away from it and having implemented the other features and new achievements mentioned in this blog post – I will return to the
grind stone code again in the next week or so for the final push and then run the same tests on Linux (for those X-Plane users of whom are using Linux as their desktop operating systems) – this should be reasonably quick though as only X-Plane (and more importantly the Xplane SDK) is supported on Linux!
As you may have seen too on Discord, I invested time last month in implementing WASM support for LRM – since then Microsoft has now released WASM support for the XBox (or atleast, that is my understanding)… Whilst not wanting to leave all of my PC users in the dark for another few months and seemingly
“leaving baby in the corner” (you get it?) “leaving FsHub in the corner” in the corner… I will be finishing the release of the next-gen LRM client and working to add a few more highly-requested features to LRM before saving up my pennies to get my hands on an XBox to then fully test and then finally release the embedded (WASM) support for XBox users so that manual PIREPs for those users should then be a thing of the past!
New features and improvements to the FsHub platform
Whilst most of you know that I’ve been hammering away on the new LRM client, I’ve also been adding some new features and improving some existing features within FsHub too – generally those that have been requested or from users on Discord that have
I won’t go into too much detail here as the majority of you already know about these new features, have seen my screenshots in Discord and have already started using them (I did announce them on Discord) but in summary, they are as follows:-
- Personal arrival and departure stats on the airport information pages – Enables you to quickly see how many times you have departed or arrived at a specific airport (if you ever did) – useful to find new airports that you’ve never been to before!
- Virtual airline achievements can now be deleted – this was an architectural nightmare given how FsHub is developed (as a distributed system) but a highly requested feature from some of the larger virtual airlines which literally have hundreds of bespoke virtual airline achievements!
- Flight hours by aircraft (Pilot Stats page) – The pilot stats page now also shows details of the number of flight hours per aircraft type, not just the number of flights – including a new pie chart!
- Fixes to the “light theme”
- Prevention (and warning to users) when attempting to designate or re-designate an aircraft with a missing (invalid label) – Whilst this might not make sense to some of you, rest assured, some pilots might have been aggravated by this – our change now informs the user of the issue and how to resolve it.
We released another ton of single and multi-leg achievements!
We’ve kept to our word and, every few months (to enable those who will have less time to complete them before getting overwhelmed with the number of flight achievements available) and have been drip-feeding you pilots with new achievements over the last couple of weeks.
I have recently started building out the European version of our popular “US Cities” series and are called “Euro Cities”, so far, two volumes have been released and more coming soon!
In summary, those new achievements can be found here:
- The Azores!
- Flying the Greek Islands
- A Fun Fantastical Flight to the Fjords with Friends
- New Zealand North Island Bespoke Airport Tour
- Euro Cities Volume 1
- Earn your salt! (designed by Tyler K)
- Euro Cities Volume 2
A new “Pilot Achievement” system is being released shortly!
Originally I was very sceptical about adding “achievements” of any kind into FsHub but having had them added to the platform for almost a year now, I can see from the stats that these are really enjoyed by many members!
At this present time, all of our achievements centre around flights and landing style challenges, I have some annual leave from work (for two weeks) starting Monday 3rd of April and during of which, I will be releasing a new “Pilot achievement” system.
The Pilot Achievement system, much like the existing achievements can be disabled by pilots of whom feel may increase anxiety or promote “grinding” but for those of whom have previously asked for this feature should be excited to know that they will now be able to be recognised for general achievements and will be able to collect badges for various pilot activities and “long term” use of the platform.
At this stage, I’m doing some final testing and adding a handful more of these achievements prior to the “go live”.
Whilst I don’t want to entirely spoil the surprise just yet, I can confirm some of the badges that will be awarded (and why) are as follows:-
- GA Pilot (Amass over 500 flight hours in any “common” GA aircraft)
- Boeing Pilot (Amass over 500 flight hours in a Boeing commercial aircraft)
- Airbus Pilot (Amas over 500 flight hours in any Airbus commercial aircraft)
- The day job (Amass over 1,000 flights and 1,000 flight hours)
- The Explorer (Visit over 200 countries)
- The long hauler (Complete 50 long-haul flights, each flight time > 10 hours)
- I crossed the pond (Complete a flight departing England, Ireland, France or Germany and land in North America or Canada! – or in reverse!)
- The Butter King (Perform 10 landings at less than -20 f/m)
- Achievement Master (Complete over 200 “global” achievement legs)
These achievements will be “back dated” and so, if you already have completed any of the above, the badge will automatically be awarded!
Upon release of this new feature, there will be approximately 10 other “Pilot achievements” that I won’t be sharing at this time – we’ll keep them as a nice surprise!
I haven’t mentioned this recently but want to reassure you all that this is definitely NOT forgotten…
Aeroconomy, whilst an “opt-in” feature for VA’s will bring about the ability for virtual airlines to operate (and compete with other VA’s in a “dynamic” and evolving economy) and will give a more realistic “score” to those smaller airlines that are operating more efficiently than simply having a ton of pilots and routes.
Aeroconomy will provide another level of immersion at VA management level where carefully balancing the books, finances, routes and customer satisfaction is paramount in operating a “successful” virtual airline – other “competing” airlines will be waiting in the wings (pun intended) to steal first place if you don’t keep tabs on your business.
I quite literally just want to work on this now – This is going to be amazing and it honestly feels like it’s been a long road already – web, cloud and API platforms are my passion and having a completely blank canvas to work from on this is super exciting for me.
This will, once the new LRM client has been released be the next major thing on my priority list – I’ve mentioned it before in other posts and shared my excitement to start working on this.
Stay tuned for more updates soon – much like the development and release of features on FsHub, the good news being that progress on this will be much more rapid when compared to the LRM client (as it’s all web/API/cloud-based – I don’t have to worry about the various client-side computer configurations and other things that are “out of my control”)!
Financial support for the features we want to bring to FsHub
You probably read “financial support” and thought, oh, here we go… begging for money but this isn’t and has never been the case but lack of forecastable, on-going of financial support is holding us back to a degree.
As you’re probably aware, in order to help support the ongoing hosting costs of FsHub (so it isn’t too strenuous on my personal wallet), we offer “premium” access to some features of FsHub for those that show support (by donating) to the platform – many of the features we provide with this are actually very taxing (performance wise) on the platform (such as routes, VA achievements and duty schedule features) – whilst I’d love to share these features with everyone (I like free stuff too!), this isn’t really an option right now.
With more features and the requirement for third-party (expensive) services that I simply cannot develop myself due to not having “the data” (such as mapping API’s and weather overlay maps, huge improvements to AeroPad etc.) I may look to start offering the ability for users (or companies) to “sponsor” on a monthly basis, the platform – this should bring in more money but more importantly a “known” amount (that I can budget for the use of such services) in return for having their logo’s and links on the homepage of FsHub and will mean that I don’t have to rely on individuals in future to help me prop up the monthly costs of the platform infrastructure and then, all existing features can be “open to all” – don’t worry though, this won’t be intrusive at all and will remain easy on the eyes!
Whilst I won’t waste my time if people HATE this idea this will mean that more advanced features that we cannot “afford” (at the expense of risking the platform stability in it’s current state) at the moment will have to hold off.
Some users have also asked for us to support debit/credit card payment mentions for donations – I will also look to add this as an option very soon.
I’d love to hear your feedback on this specifically though – feel free to DM me on our Discord server (with good or bad feedback) – My Discord username is “ballen”.
Whilst I know that, partly due to the fact that I’m back in full-time work now (I used to work extensively on FsHub between “contract” jobs) but also the sheer amount of work that has been going on behind the scenes on the next-gen LRM client things appear to have “stalled” with development – this certainly isn’t the case and whilst I’ve been a little quieter on Discord recently, it’s just because I’ve been trying to keep my head above the water.
In the coming weeks, I will also publish a new “User Survey” to get your opinions and future requests – Once the LRM client is done and dusted we’ll be running at the speed of light again on the web platform and releases will be supersonic as they have been in the past!
I’m super excited to finally finish off and release the new LRM client – this has been really hard work (the amount of time required and if I’m honest, boring too) but the end goal will be a truly stable, super efficient LRM client that will be used for another 10 years hopefully (yes, it feels weird to say it but FsHub will be ten years old next year)!
…I can then go back to working on what I’m most passionate about which is the web and API side of things – FsHub and the new Aeroconomy platform.
I’m almost certain that in a couple of months time the sheer amount of features and new “toys” that I will be bringing to you all will utterly amaze you 🙂
In the meantime, if you appreciate everything that has been going on, and would like to either buy me a beer or simply help with the ongoing hosting costs and support the work that we’re doing – remember that you can always donate. I also just want to mention and thank you to all of those that have donated in the past and continue to support the project on Patreon each month – this is massively appreciated and I’m hugely grateful – you know who you are 😉
That’s all from me – I hope you have super fun with the new April Fool’s day achievement (it’s going to be a strange one for sure ;)) and I look forward to updating you again very soon with some amazing updates and new features!
Hope you have a fantastic weekend!
ballen (and the FsHub team)!