Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Fun With Installers

So first, if I promised you scenery tools about now (MeshTool, AC3D, or any of the other things I've been asked for), please wait two weeks and ask again. I thought Austin would be cutting master DVDs while I would have time for tools, but instead I will cut the DVDs, so tools will have to wait until the masters are done.

To calm any fear: if you have X-Plane 9 DVDs, you will not need to buy new ones. We will be periodically updating our master DVDs (just like we always have), but we've taken a number of steps to ensure that everything new since the original "Beta 1" DVDs will be deliverable by reasonably small incremental web updates.

If you are reading this blog, you're probably an advanced X-Plane user, possibly one who makes airplanes or scenery or even plugins, and you're probably comfortable with computers and know a lot about the sim. Please bear in mind as I describe some of the changes we're making in the installer that we have users who have never used a computer before, and purchased their first computer to run X-Plane.

Simply put, the primary goal of the installer is to allow the non-experts to use X-Plane too.

Anyway, with this post I'd like to call attention to a feature that I believe very few people know about (because it was broken for a long time and yet we didn't get many reports).

You can update X-Plane 8 or 9 from the About Box - when you pick "About X-Plane" the sim will check our update servers for new versions, and if one is found, it will give you an update button. This update button will then download the very latest installer and launch it, setting it to update the copy of X-Plane you were running.

X-Plane 9 beta 25 will be out soon; when it comes out, please try updating by using the About Box in beta 24. Let me know if the process works correctly.

(What's so great about updating from the about box? Well, one of the biggest tech support calls we get is users who do not successfully patch their existing copy of x-plane, but use the web updater to fetch a whole new X-Plane, which of course has no scenery. When you get the installer from the about box, you always get the latest correct installer, and the sim tells the installer which copy to live. In the future we'll be removing the "destination" button when you run this way, so it's as simple as "go".)


Austin G said...

All worked fine for me Ben - iMac 2.8 Intel Core 2 duo, Mac OS 10.5.2. It didn't re-launch X-Plane after the install was complete, but I suspect it isn't meant to.

Dan31 said...

I don't think removing the Destination bouton is a so good idea. I keep more than one folder of Xplane to be sure that the next update will not break my current version. And if so, i just have to delete the bad update.

Benjamin Supnik said...

Dan31 - You will be able to update and keep multiple x-system folders easily with the new system. Basically:

- To update any particular x-system folder, click the udpate button from the about box of that x-system folder.

- To make a copy of an x-system folder, just copy the whole folder in the finder/explorer, nothing more to do. don't need the destination button. All you need to do is have two x-system folders and only pick update from the APPLICATION you really want updated.

Paploo said...

I would think that since the installer already allows you to specify an install location, and the install option from the About menu auto-sets what the install location should be, that it wouldn't be a problem to leave in the install location selection area for the advanced users (including myself) that actually use this feature.

If you really felt the need to hide it, maybe there should be an 'advanced mode' button that brings it up with any warnings you feel are appropriate?

Quino said...

I had a problem with the x-plane folder name, that remained with 'b24'. I think it was because I was sharing the x-plane folder with other computers in my LAN, and windows asks the user in order to change the folder name.

Jens said...

worked fine here, updated my x-plane 9 beta24, living in y:\X-Plane 9.00.

It did not rename the folder afterwards because it could not, I keep a file open during updates to avoid that.

That is actually the only issue I have with x-plane updater: it renames the x-plane folder at the end. this breaks all kind of stuff: shortcuts on the desktop, goodway-preferences, my csl-manager prefs ... Please include an option to NOT RENAME after an update.

The only other thing missing: restart X-plane after successful update :)

Benjamin Supnik said...

Quino and Jens - the current installer has an option to turn off "rename when done". Just turn it off!

I suspect the new installers andu updaters will not rename at all...we are moving toward having app version info in the startup screen, about box, and get-info/properties but not the app file name or folder name. (Get info on beta 25 - note the beta number is in the about box.)

Paploo: there is no technical problem with having a destination's a work flow problem. That destination button is the single largest cause of tech support calls we get.

Basically the problem is this: we have one application which is both a DOWNLOADER for the demo and an UPDATER for all products.

I agree completely that the downloader for the demo must let you customize install locations, and it will, just like most installers. Similarly the DVD installers will let you customize install location.

But the updater and the web-demo-installer are going to become separate applications. when this happens, the updater won't need a destination button because it will always be launched by the x-plane that needs updating.*

* (If you have to get an updater from the web based on a dead app, THEN it will let you pick an x-system folder.)

The fundamental problem is that we have to take destination choice out of an update-existing operation.

Paploo said...

ben: Now that you've explained the full vision it makes sense. :)

Peter Meininger said...

Just updated to RC1 from within b25. It worked nicely.
(SantaRosa MBP 17" / OS 10.5.2)