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orbx Introducing Orbx Central: Easy Installation, For Everyone

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Hi all,

 

Orbx and our Melbourne-based development team (Josh, Mitch and I) are very excited to announce the next generation in flight simulator software installation.

 

We are also looking for a group of people to help us test the functionality across Windows, macOS and Linux. If you're interested, please submit an application.

 

Quite a few commonly requested features have made it into Central. We hope you enjoy them!

 

Cross-platform

We realise Windows may not be the first choice for many of our customers. For our X-Plane releases, we currently offer the cross-platform zip (available via your account page) for macOS and Linux users.

 

However, for our X-Plane TrueEarth products, that means manually running scripts to convert the files into the format that X-Plane reads.

 

Orbx Central is the first program to allow a product (e.g. KCGX Merrill C. Meigs Field) to be installed into FSX, Prepar3D, X-Plane and Aerofly on Windows, macOS and Linux. We think that’s pretty cool.

 

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Orbx Central on Windows and Linux

 

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Orbx Central on macOS

 

 

Modern UI refresh

We’ve taken the best parts of FTX Central 3, and improved them in Central. You’ll see large screenshots, clear text, and a responsive interface.

 

The UI will appear the same on Windows, macOS and Linux. If you know how to use Central on one operating system, you know how to use it on all operating systems.

 

When logging into Central, you’ll be presented with a beautiful screenshot. This screenshot will be updated each month thanks to our screenshot competition.

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The Central log in screen

 

Home

When you start Central, you’ll be presented with a beautiful Netflix-style homepage. We’ll use this to let you know what we’re working on, and also for inspiration towards completing your Orbx collection.

 

Category view

Finding a specific product in our haystack of products can sometimes be difficult. To make this easier, we’ve added a whole bunch of real-time filtering options. For the power users, you can press Ctrl + F to focus on the filter box (or Ctrl + Shift + F to search products in all categories).

 

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Filtering the category list in Central

 

"My Products" view

Central’s My Products view is a great way to see all of the Orbx products you own from all regional categories. This makes it easy to immediately start installing your products.

 

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Central's library view showing owned and installed products

 

In-app purchasing

Products can be easily purchased in Central in just a few clicks. The Orbx store experience is now fully integrated.

 

 

That’s not all - we’ve taken it a step further. If you save your card in Central, you’ll be presented with a one-click purchase and install button. This takes away all the hassle of multiple menus and confirmation screens you may have experienced in the past when purchasing a product from us.

 

Your card data is saved securely with our payment gateway. For more information, please see this link.

 

 

Automatic updates

If you own a lot of Orbx products, keeping them all up-to-date can be a pain. But now, products automatically update themselves to the latest version when your simulator is not running.


If you don’t want automatic updates, you can disable them either per-product, or globally.

 

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Central's update settings page

 

Add-on packages

Recently, Lockheed Martin introduced the add-on package system into Prepar3D. This has a myriad of improvements over the traditional system of installing into the simulator directory, then hooking up the scenery in the scenery.cfg.

 

We can now distribute immutable add-on packages, which install in their own directories outside the simulator.

 

This means that if you choose to reinstall Prepar3D v4, you will not need to re-install your Orbx add-ons. After reinstalling Prepar3D v4, the next time you start the sim, your add-ons will be added again automatically. This can cut down the time for a completely fresh install of Prepar3D from hours to minutes.

 

Another advantage of using the add-on package system is that you can enable and disable products that previously did not support that functionality. As an example, in FSX-P3Dv3, Global BASE will overwrite the core simulator’s textures. Whereas now, in Prepar3D v4, it just adds an additional texture directory that the simulator will use for textures instead. This means that you can enable and disable Global BASE with a single click. If you want to see what the sim looks like without any Orbx products, simply disable all of the Orbx “add-ons” from Prepar3D’s add-ons menu. It’s as simple as that!

 

Libraries

Now that we have truly massive products exceeding 120 GB, a common request is to install products to a custom location. With Central 4, this is now possible.

 

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The library settings page

 

We have implemented a library system, similar to Steam’s libraries. When you install a product, you will be prompted to select which library you’d like to install that product to.

 

You could have one library on a large HDD for storing region products, then have a smaller SSD for airports. It’s completely up to you.

 

Central supports libraries for Prepar3D v4, X-Plane 11, and Aerofly FS 2. All other simulators will install into the simulator’s root directory.

 

In Prepar3D v4, libraries make use of the add-on package system mentioned above. In X-Plane 11 and Aerofly FS 2, Central will automatically handle symbolically linking the relevant directories into the simulator.

 

Downloader

The download component has been re-engineered. It is now faster and more robust.

 

We have done a lot of optimisation under the hood to ensure that installs don’t take any longer than necessary. As an example, the “scanning” stage for EGCB in FTX Central 3 took 4,080 milliseconds. Whereas in Central, it takes only 24 milliseconds. Although EGCB is a small product, the performance benefits here will be seen with products like Global VECTOR which contain over 60,000 files to scan.

 

Furthermore, JPG to DDS conversions are now done whilst the product is downloading. This cuts down an installation of TrueEarth Great Britain South Demo from 9 minutes (in FTXC3) to less than 3 minutes in Central.

 

More optimisation has also been applied to the various data formats Central uses when communicating with OrbxDirect’s API. This will mean less time between clicking install, and the actual install process starting.

 

The download code is now also multithreaded, whereas previously only one file would be downloaded at a time. We now download multiple parts of the files simultaneously - similar to how a download manager works.

 

Another improvement we’ve made is regarding the download queue. Previously, in FTX Central 3, you could only pause and cancel if the job was in the “download” state. But now, you can pause/cancel at any part of the installation process.

 

Backup and restore

In FTX Central 3 you have the ability to save and restore product backups - avoiding downloading them from the internet.

 

However, it’s clunky, hard to use, and not very obvious.

 

In Central, we’ve completely rethought how product backups and restores work. They are now seamless and happen in the background.

 

When you install an Orbx product, we automatically backup the files to a location you designate (a cheap external backup HDD, for example). Then, if you install that product again in the future, we’ll automatically use the files from the backup without user intervention required at all.

 

In addition to specifying the backup location, you can also specify a maximum size. So if you only want to allocate 50 GB for backups, Central will intelligently handle the files it backs up to avoid going over that limit.

 

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The backup settings page

 

By automatically handling the backup process, this reduces the time it takes to install a product, amount of data you download (and therefore cost to us) and finally allows us to continue offering lifetime free downloads and a large library of freeware products.

 

Account management

You can now perform most account management tasks from within Central, including changing your password, opting in or out of Fastlane, and enabling Multi-Factor Authentication.

 

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The account settings page

 

Multi-lingual support

Don't speak English? That's okay! At launch, we will be offering the main Central UI in German and French too! Have any other language suggestions? Let us know (even better if you can help translate it with us ;)).

 

Thank you to Richard Bui for the French translation!

 

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The Central UI in French.

 

Once again, if you want to get early access and help us test Central, please submit an application.

 

Expect a release of Central within the coming months!

 

We're happy to answer any questions you may have :D

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