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I have begun using this in ZAN (Anchorage) for anyone who wants to test it out. I will strive to have my link up whenever I am on Center. Login is PAZA if anyone is interested, it will be in my ATIS if it's available. Look for more of our guys to implement this in the near future, details will be on our website/forums as they come out.

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Anchorage Deputy Air Traffic Manager

VATSIM Senior Supervisor (Team 1)

Have a question or concern? Email me at [email protected].

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I'm working on a few features in the ATC interface, designed to work better "under" an ATC scope program. However I have no good idea on how controllers use the various scope programs available. Do they use multiple monitors, do they use a full screen mode (no title bar) if available in the program, etc.

 

If I put out a new version of the CPDLC program (ATC side), can a few of you pick it up and give it a test drive? I'm looking at scope coexistence, not yet at integration (the scope programmers would need to have a tiny little TCP callout to tell the CPDLC program which call sign they want to send a message to).

 

Like, if there would be a floating CPDLC icon somewhere on the screen that you can drag around so it is not in the way, and a mouse right click would call up the call signs of all planes currently in CPDLC contact so you can send them a message. Would this be helpful?

 

 

Jeroen

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I'm working on a few features in the ATC interface, designed to work better "under" an ATC scope program. However I have no good idea on how controllers use the various scope programs available. Do they use multiple monitors, do they use a full screen mode (no title bar) if available in the program, etc.

Here is our most comprehensive library of screen-setups Post-your-scope-thread: viewtopic.php?f=7&t=35766&start=255

If I put out a new version of the CPDLC program (ATC side), can a few of you pick it up and give it a test drive? I'm looking at scope coexistence, not yet at integration (the scope programmers would need to have a tiny little TCP callout to tell the CPDLC program which call sign they want to send a message to).

I am all in for trying new features, although I am not yet into scope-/EuroScope-plugin development.

Like, if there would be a floating CPDLC icon somewhere on the screen that you can drag around so it is not in the way, and a mouse right click would call up the call signs of all planes currently in CPDLC contact so you can send them a message. Would this be helpful?

This is a great idea. Could it change colour to show a needed action?

What I did on my first session was using an "always-on-top" helper program (WinPin) to let the plane and message list stay on top.

 

Absolutely great Jeroen. In our German forum rumours are that "we have text chat which is essentially the same" etc. That is true yet but I like the idea of datalink a lot and at least when using it inside another MCDU (perhaps the open-source vasFMC?) pilots will like to use it. Thanks to you for letting us get insight in this part of modern aviation!

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Here is our most comprehensive library of screen-setups

Helpful! Thx!

 

This is a great idea. Could it change colour to show a needed action?

Affirm.

 

In our German forum rumours are that "we have text chat which is essentially the same" etc.

Of course. Just tell Eurocontrol that we have something better, called text chat, and that they should revert their decisions to roll out CPDLC instead

 

http://www.eurocontrol.int/link2000

 

 

Jeroen

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Can some people test drive this alpha release?

 

http://www.hoppie.nl/acars/prg/atc/acarsatc-1.4-alpha-1-install.exe

 

I have added some fancy window configuration options to the system menus of all windows of the CPDLC console, so you can select each individual window to be transparent, always-on-top, or a tool window. Also there is now a floating icon option that stays always on top and has a right-click menu to quickly get to a specific plane.

 

I am aware of the large variety of scopes out there, so I'm trying to come up with an interface that allows for the best possible integration without modifications to the scope programs.

 

Any feedback welcome. This thing needs to be shaken out by many controllers before it can be declared "usable".

 

 

Jeroen

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Quick testing, looks good, did a couple of test, though not with VATSIM. The fader looks wicked!! Coupla qns maybe...

 

There is no clear button for the Telex send, so if I clicked on an acft by accident in the sent msgs, that message stays in the box unless I manually delete it. If that's intended funcitonality, well and good.

 

It is quiet possible that we loose focus of the application, so when getting back, you will have to find all 3 windows one by one. Clicking on one window will not bring all the 3 windows, PILOT, CPDLC, TELEX to the foreground, I was thinking that might be more useful!!

 

Other than that, I can't wait to test it out on the network, although I am only APP ctrlr and I will test it only for the sake of testing it

When is your next Flight||VATSIM HitSquad Member, ZOA/ZAK/P1

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There is no clear button for the Telex send, so if I clicked on an acft by accident in the sent msgs, that message stays in the box unless I manually delete it. If that's intended funcitonality, well and good.

Intended, but a clear button is not that difficult to add of course.

 

It is quite possible that we loose focus of the application, so when getting back, you will have to find all 3 windows one by one. Clicking on one window will not bring all the 3 windows, PILOT, CPDLC, TELEX to the foreground, I was thinking that might be more useful.

I worked under the impression that not all windows would be needed at the same time, but I can solve it by adding an option to just link them all up. Minimize one, all go; restore one, all come back. Or something like this.

 

Thanks for testing. More alphas to come.

 

 

Jeroen

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Alpha 2:

 

http://www.hoppie.nl/acars/prg/atc/acarsatc-1.4-alpha-2-install.exe

 

Any colour input? I made one window with a white background and one with black. Especially the black background can also be made truly transparent, so that you can even click through it, but not through the border.

 

 

Jeroen

 

PS. Shall we migrate this discussion to the Controller Talk forum?

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Yeh I think having them linked up would be good.

 

Jeroen, is there any chance as well you might look at changing the pilot client a bit? As in reduce the amount of windows open from 3 to 1, and not 'simplify' the operation of it, but make it a bit more straight forward? Because one thing I found with the ATC client compared to the pilot one, was that the ATC client was very straight forward to use, you didn't even need to read the manual to know how to use it. The pilot one on the other hand was very complicated to use if you weren't familiar with it, and the instructions on the website were a bit difficult to understand as well. Another thing I think would be good to have is a different style user interfaces for the MCDU bit, instead of just the 747 style. Or even if it was possible just to have 1 generic alternative texture.

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Yeh I think having them linked up would be good.

 

Jeroen, is there any chance as well you might look at changing the pilot client a bit? As in reduce the amount of windows open from 3 to 1, and not 'simplify' the operation of it, but make it a bit more straight forward? Because one thing I found with the ATC client compared to the pilot one, was that the ATC client was very straight forward to use, you didn't even need to read the manual to know how to use it. The pilot one on the other hand was very complicated to use if you weren't familiar with it, and the instructions on the website were a bit difficult to understand as well. Another thing I think would be good to have is a different style user interfaces for the MCDU bit, instead of just the 747 style. Or even if it was possible just to have 1 generic alternative texture.

 

Yeah I think it would be alot more easier if it was just one client for the pilot side aswell. I find that with all three open it clutters my task bar and I can't minimize the icons to the system tray.

Kind Regards,

James White 1054550

VATPAC C1 ENR Controller

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Jeroen, is there any chance as well you might look at changing the pilot client a bit?

Unfortunately this is not just one program. It is four, really. I ripped them all out of a large 25+ program moving platform simulator that truly does not want them rolled into one, as they need to be distributed over many machines.

 

Unfortunately there is no time to rewrite anything significant in the pilot side. It simply was never meant to be run near MSFS. So you're stuck with a 100% correct native 747-400 interface. About the only thing you can do is to provide another photo backdrop and adjust the MCDU .cfg file to your liking -- this is exactly what the MCDU was designed for.

 

It may not be apparent, but this software MCDU is so versatile that it is actually being used aboard operating 737 aircraft (it controls a satellite receiver from the crew's EFBs).

 

I am aware of the impractical side effects of not having a drop-in single .DLL for inside MSFS, but alas, I am not going to develop everything again for a dead platform. For now, I hope you can live with it. In the future, things may get more streamlined.

 

 

Jeroen

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The pilot one on the other hand was very complicated to use if you weren't familiar with it, and the instructions on the website were a bit difficult to understand as well.

[Mod - Happy Thoughts]uming that you minimise everything except the MCDU, what remains is the exact thing pilots work with in the real world. If it is confusing, that is because it is this way.

 

ACARS in particular is a 1970s technology, and it shows. CPDLC has been designed in the 1980s (FANS) and brings on the same crude interfaces.

 

But... the docomeentation should help you out here, and if not, I can and will update it. Has the walkthrough been of any [Mod - Happy Thoughts]istance?

http://www.hoppie.nl/acars/example.html

 

Funny enough, my CPDLC sim setup has been used by research organisations and training facilities exactly because CPDLC is such a confusing mess... it is too close to the real system!

 

 

Jeroen

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Just thought I'd post a picture of my CDPLC setup with a session on Shanwick today

Pretty!

 

If you want, you can drop the scope icons on the CPDLC windows and the minimize/maximize buttons, and also drop their task bar icons, by selecting their System menu, opening the Window Config, and selecting "Tool Window". You need to close and re-open the individual windows once.

 

 

Jeroen

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I think the stay-on-top feature is great, thanks!

 

(alpha-2 tested)

 

One little buggie I noticed is when toggling Toolwindow, the extra "Window Config" menu item is lost - but it comes back after closing and reopening the window.

 

What would you suggest: Leave just the messages window open or the TELEX as well?

 

I think for every-day-controlling I would like a rather small box open (Messages with the black background is great ) and accessing the TELEX and PLANES windows by a small icon out of this 1 stay-on-top window. This is out of that I guess as an ATC I would just have to monitor the "Messages"...

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Hey, did you notice you can remove any window from the taskbar by setting it "Tool Window"? That's great, you can effectively declutter the taskbar.

 

I have to add to my last post: I am already content on the usablity and look&feel as it is now.

 

I have Planes - Tool Window - Always on top - very small - does not show on taskbar

Messages - Tool Window - Always on top - small - does not show on taskbar

Telex - Normal Window - Minimized to taskbar

CDPLC (main) - Tool Window - does not show on taskbar

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One little buggie I noticed is when toggling Toolwindow, the extra "Window Config" menu item is lost - but it comes back after closing and reopening the window.

When the window gets reparented into a tool frame, its system menu is thrown away by Windows and needs to be reconstructed. I would effectively need to close and open the window as well. But probably I can hack this one out.

 

What would you suggest: Leave just the messages window open or the TELEX as well?

Any window will open when something comes in, but TELEX in all honesty should not be required as all communication with ATC should be via CPDLC. In reality, you cannot ACARS to ATC at all. I just added it (as a copy of the Dispatch station) for convenience.

 

The exception is a pre-departure clearance, which technically comes from ATC but not at all via CPDLC. For this specific use, the TELEX system is useful, especially since you can click on REPLY, click on the previously sent clearance, bump up the squawk and send it off.

 

You can also leave the "Planes Online" closed all the time if you don't need the overview. The floating green icon has a right-mouse-menu with the same call signs. My idea was to only have the messages window open and then if I want to send something, either click on the relevant message to reply, or use the right-click on the icon to initiate a new conversation.

 

Your suggestion to include the floating-icon-right-click-menu also on the message window is a good one.

 

 

Jeroen

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I had to think through a couple of proposals.

 

For now, the disappearance of the System window extensions when changing to Tool Window remains. The program structure does not allow the config to close and open the parent window. Since this typically is a one-time setting and reopening the window does not delete any data, I postpone this fix.

 

Adding a right-click to the Current Messages window is possible, but this would violate the interface guidelines I got from Aussie ATC. They have single left click stuff only on TAAATS, I was told. Especially when using touch screens, this makes sense. Given that the current ATC client was not designed for "home controller" use and was not meant to look and feel like Windows, I also postpone this fix. An interface redesign would likely be better and is not impossible (but not before World Flight).

 

However I did add another Windows trick to contradict myself. In the Window Config you now find the option "No Background". This does not work for all windows, only for the Current Messages and Planes Online windows, that typically remain on display all the time. When selected (and the window is reopened), there is indeed no background. It is not just transparent, it is Not There. You can click right through it.

 

I also removed the scroll bars from the Messages and Planes windows, so they reduce to just a dimmable frame when nothing is there to yell at. If ever people need the scroll bars, we are looking at a whole new situation anyway.

 

Alpha Three:

http://www.hoppie.nl/acars/prg/atc/acarsatc-1.4-alpha-3-install.exe

 

 

Jeroen

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I also removed the scroll bars from the Messages and Planes windows, so they reduce to just a dimmable frame when nothing is there to yell at. If ever people need the scroll bars, we are looking at a whole new situation anyway.

Seeing as how this is coming up a good 2 mos ahead of the CTP east, chances are that a lot of us will try to use it, I mean both as pilots and Ctrlrs. So there is a good chance it might need scrolling but if you can resize the window for more acft, then it shouldn't be a problem. Then again, CTP guys can tell us if they would like to use this or not, but I am hoping they would encourage it based on progress here.

 

Cheers and thanks for Alpha 3.

When is your next Flight||VATSIM HitSquad Member, ZOA/ZAK/P1

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