Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Updating X-Plane (Take 2)

Now that X-Plane 9.00RC3 is final, we've released a complete set of "next-gen" updaters and installers, identifiable because they run at 800x600. With these new installers and updaters, we've changed the way updating the sim works.

In the past, we had one application (the "net installer") that would:
  • Update any existing files it found and
  • Get any files that were missing.
This was useful in that you could get a fresh copy of X-Plane or update your existing one.

But it also made life a living hell for our tech support folks; the single biggest tech support item we would get is users who would:
  1. Go to update X-Plane using this tool.
  2. Pick a new location, not their existing install.
  3. Download 700 MB of demo instead of 30 MB of updates.
  4. Run the demo and discover they now have no scenery.
  5. Become confused and call or email us.
To try to combat this confusion, we've separated the concept of installing a demo from the concept of updating the sim.

The new "web demo installer" always makes a new copy of X-Plane. It will not install into an existing location; if you ask it to install to an existing folder, it will demand you pick a new name. It will always fetch the full 700-MB demo.

The new "updater" always picks from an existing copy of X-Plane (presented as a list of known X-Plane 9 installs, rather than a file picker - one of the big problems was people picking a folder inside the X-Plane folder). It always updates this existing folder, and will thus never fetch a new install or create a new install.

My hope is that users can identify the task they wish to execute (install a demo, or update what they have) and thus use an application that will guide them through a path without pitfalls. Top concern is that the updaters not install second copies.

Advanced users: you can still do anything with these tools that you could before - but the functionality is now split into two apps. The updater will never rename an existing folder name (as this breaks people's shortcuts), and the installer will let you customize both the install name and the install location. You don't have to install "X-Plane 900r3 Demo" to the desktop.

Finally, a note on beta: previously we had a separate set of tools for beta; searching for betas is now a check-box preference that puts nasty red writing up. This is mostly to keep me sane and the number of installer builds down to what I can count on my fingers. So when the next beta comes out, just take your updater and enable "search for betas".


Anonymous said...

What about updating from x-plane about menu? I think it's a safe place for the average user to update the sim. Will it continue working as usual?


Benjamin Supnik said...

Yes - update from the sim will work! When the sim tells the updater where to work, all the "pick which copy to update" interface goes away.

Photos said...

I like the new updater.