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Quite a bit of time since we updated you with our status… sometimes it’s true that with our heads so deep into the code, it’s difficult to come up and take a breath… there’s quite a bit of development going on in the Labs, I won’t tire you with the same old “it’s very complex” reason, but it remains true today. Those of you who have read my status updates in the past will understand that my roots are in programming and development, so my skill set is more honed towards writing code than spreading hype and marketing fluff. As such, forgive me for sometimes forgetting that it’s nice to put a little bit of text together for you all, if only just to say a nice hello and give you some heads-up on our status.
So – what’s been going on:
We’re doing great.
The team is working hard, as always and every new alpha release brings more functionality to our testers and advisers. Technical terms, such as “extended vertical profile calculations”, “altitude/speed constraint triplets”, “leg fuel prediction variability” are included in our daily discussions. While these discussions might excite me personally (didn’t I say my background is in programming and development?), they don’t offer themselves as presentation material for public consumption, not just because they tend to be dry in nature (calculating the Dx/Dy step for TCF/TAD predictions is in itself a matter of various US Patents but hardly instagram-worthy), but also because if we attempt to start such discussions in the forum, they have a tendency to diverge significantly into other forms of human fun (such as the displays we had recently).
We have also been working hard on the visual aspects of our simulation product – external model and virtual cockpit have been receiving lots of attention (always with the help of our advisers and testers). As is usual historically in such projects, code programming takes significantly longer than the development of visual elements, but in our case, we use that to our advantage – it’s typical that some of our visual work has been done over more than once, as each round of alpha testing might identify elements that we wish to improve upon and beautify.
Why, then, “are we so late”?
Well, we are and we aren’t. As I mentioned previously in my past “update” notes, I originally set the bar very high in terms of what we wanted to deliver, but failed to realize how hard that is in terms of development – in the past, all our simulation projects had been done solely with the entertainment market in mind, meaning that we were able to “cut corners” where corners could be cut (to a degree that would allow us to stay within the 18 month development time frame period).
With the A320-X family, we aim much higher – we want our product to be able to deliver proper functionality in so many different areas and each one requires absolute attention to detail. As such, where in the past we’d spend two-three days to develop the cabin pressurization system (for example) and call it “good enough” as a platform, in the A320-X it took us significantly longer to develop, as it tied into the bleed systems, our pneumatic simulation model and also took account of sealant leaks where they might play a role in the real aircraft. It also tied into the electrics wiring – the switches and knobs that control pressurization are properly tied into our electrical grid which meant that work in electrics had to coexist with the development of cabin pressure calculations.
This is but a small example of what attention we bring into our product – but it also means that we can’t be accurate in estimating how long each system might take to fully be developed. Thankfully, it also means that when they are complete, these systems are so elegantly done they can be plugged into each aircraft type without requiring much more than the rewiring for each aircraft’s input / output requirements.
I have been discussing with our team how we can bring some visual elements to life for you before our product is released. We have a few ideas that we will be showcasing in upcoming posts but for now, I just wanted to write you a small update just to say that we appreciate your continued support (it’s amazing how much of that you keep showing us every day) and to ask for your understanding when there’s some time between updates – I know it’s frustrating, I’ve been there myself as a customer, but it’s even worse as a developer because we’re the first to want to give you the fruits of our labor.
That is all for now – I have asked Bob Lyddy, our new QA manager, to keep me honest in providing these updates so if I don’t come up with a new one soon, you now know exactly who to blame (see how easy it is to point fingers elsewhere? 🙂 ).
Talk to you soon!