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Data Server Retirements


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Members may or may not be aware that VATSIM retired it’s Wazzup and v1 JSON data feeds on the 7th April 2021 at 0001z. There have been a variety of questions posed in the days that have followed, and we hope the below provides answers to them all.

Why have we retired the old feeds?
This data feed has historically caused several issues - specifically for staff maintaining it, the accuracy of data and the data changing without notice. This has been the case for several years, and the benefits of continuing to support and maintain the feed, no longer outweigh the negatives given the reliability, data integrity, usability for developers and update rate of the JSON v3 Schemas.


Timeline for Retirement
Our first post went out on the 3rd of December 2020. This had our official statement on the non v3 data feed retirements laid out. There was some original confusion as we had initially set the date to the 1st January, but after internal and external consultations, we delayed the implementation date. In the end, we set 2 dates - a provisional date of the 1st March, with an extension to the 31st March should it have been appropriate. Through this time, we continued to reach out to the sources and divisions where we were able to, namely through the Development Discord but also through code repositories or other means.


Issues Since Initial Announcement
Tracking applications and usage is no easy feat. Some applications pass in a user agent, such as simtoolkitpro/0.6.75, VAT-Spy/1.3.3 or Little Navmap/2.6.11 Config/VATSIM which has made for making contact with those sources really simple. However, there are numerous applications and sites that make no attempt to identify themselves, nor have correct DNS configurations to allow us to reverse lookup the IP making the requests. This is made particularly hard by the fact a lot of applications are also self run on PCs.

We could easily impose a requirement to have a correctly formatted UserAgent to be able to retrieve the data, but we appreciate that some tools might not allow it. We would request services add these properties where able, or correctly configure their DNS settings.


Mobile Apps 
The V3 feed is fully compatible with, and accessible by mobile app developers.  There are a number of apps currently available, many of which do not provide accurate ATC information or lack additional data points. This appears to be mainly because the code is outdated, and not being actively maintained. This also has potential risks of leaving newer devices vulnerable.

VATVIEW is an example of a newer app that is using the V3 feed.  This feature rich product is available for free at:

The complete feature set includes:

  • An Interactive map displaying pilots and ATC
  • Detailed aircraft and terminal ATC station Icons
  • Enroute and FSS control areas
  • Always up to date FIR boundaries synced with VATSpy's data project
  • Detailed flight information
  • Filterable and searchable list screen


Transceiver Feed
We provide the AFV transceivers, and services are free to consume at the same rate as the v3 data feed. The data is also regenerated at a rate of 15 seconds. How services can utilise the data can be found at Transceivers · vatsimnetwork/developer-info Wiki (github.com)


Final Notes
If you are involved in a technical way, i.e Webmaster, Infrastructure Manager, etc at an FIR, vACC, Division, Region, Affiliated Virtual Airline, Authorised ATO, or other services, and you have not yet joined our VATSIM Technical Development and Web Discord Server, please send us an email at [email protected]t to get a link. Here you can communicate with all technical people across the network, share resources, assist others and get quick access to the VATSIM Tech and Development teams!

We’ll be working on a few things in the coming weeks to centralise all resources and discussions. This is going to bring Developer Information, Documentation and Discussion off the Forums and into an alternative resource. There is a lot of archaic information and messaging floating around being referenced that is not valid any more and our goal is to ensure we have accurate, and up to date information available to all services. 

As with the old datafiles, we request that you do NOT hardcode the datafile URLs, and instead download the file available at https://status.vatsim.net/status.json once when your application starts and then select one of the URLs available randomly each time you make a request. Even if we currently do load balancing server-side and therefore only one URL is available, this does not mean it will always stay like this. Doing it the correct way will also prevent your application from breaking if we change these URLs in the future.

We will always endeavour to communicate ahead of time, when changes will be made. These will be made on both the new resources, and the Discord. Where necessary, they will be put out in the wider community places such as Social Media and the Community Discord/Forum. However, due to the vast scope of usage of our data, services must be responsible for monitoring changes. Things come and go at a rate that makes us keeping a log of everything we see impossible.
 

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