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Planning ahead for retiring VRC


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4 hours ago, Justin Blakey said:

Ability to assign squawk codes in the flight plan editor as with vSTARS

Unrelated to the discussion directly but probably noteworthy. If you assign a voice tag to an aircraft with no flightplan (QB V CALLSIGN), you can SR their callsign and then modify the flight plan as needed/assign an actual beacon code. Kind of a cheat instead of making a new flightplan the real-world way.

Josh Glottmann
Deputy Air Traffic Manager
Oakland ARTCC
[email protected]

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Hello all, I'm posting to let everyone know with as much advanced notice as possible, that I have begun planning for the eventual retirement of VRC. I have not done any new feature development fo

Everyone, thanks very much for the feedback and productive discussion so far. Regarding the balance between realism and ease-of-use, I still lean strongly in favor of realism when it can be achie

Step back for a minute and think how the real world systems keep trying to improve the interface so that the operator spends less mental capacity on using the tool and more on accomplishing the result

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Posted (edited)

I just started using VSTARS and I feel that it is a very good client for APP. I feel that the realism is great. With everyone else talking about easy mode, I personally feel ease of use features shouldn't be implemented. Like people have said, VATSIM tries to be realistic, not easy and video game like. A more cab friendly mode would be very nice, but right click menus (ease of use items) shouldn't be included in this mode. I feel with proper training and thorough research, people won't feel the need to have the easy mode.

Edited by Braden Kearney
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3 hours ago, Kyle Sanders said:

I find the “learning curve” argument to be a little invalid because it is coming from those that learned how to do this on an “easier” software and set in their ways.

 

No disrespect intended here, but this is a little bit disingenuous here, as it really cheapens the value of what controllers who have been here a long while have to offer, especially without having a good frame of reference of the clients we've had here over the past 20 years. I mean, while a lot of people haven't been here long (read: over 10 years), they do not know of the days when VATSIM had things real easy with ProController. If you want ease with a ton of bugs, that was what we had and was the only controller client we could use (as well as one port, kProController, which was a rewrite of ProController to be used in KDE on Linux).

ASRC was a HUGE learning curve from that, and had nothing to do with anyone being set in their ways. In fact, I'd venture to say that ASRC was not only harder, but more realistic than VRC. VRC came about not only because of how hard ASRC was to learn, but because we kept alienating those that wanted to become controllers because of how hard of a learning curve ASRC was. 

Now you're wanting to say that the learning curve argument is invalid because of ease of use? We can't have it both ways, where it's so hard that we alienate new people to the network, but complain about people being stuck in their ways (read: stubborn) because of not wanting to learn.

Personally, I started on ProController and worked my way up to ASRC, then VRC, and after taking a break, am getting back into things here. In looking at this thread as well as the features between Euroscope, vERAM, VRC, and vSTARS, I see things in each of them that I wish that the other clients had (a lot of them already listed here). That does not make those clients any cheaper or undervalued than the others, nor should it mean that those used to those clients are only set in their ways. That's a great way to alienate those controllers who not only know this network like the back of their hands, but built up this network with the software we have for those who are new here or have been here over the past 5-10 years to what we have now.

So no, I wouldn't say that they are "set in their ways" because of "easier" software; in fact, It would have been fun to see any of the new kids here have a crack at something like ASRC and see if they think that it is "easy".

BL.

 

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Brad Littlejohn

ZLA Senior Controller

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Before simply writing off controllers who want to provide ATC services on VATSIM but aren't interested in learning ultra-realistic radar tools as "wanting to play video games" (paraphrased), keep this in mind: right now, the ratio of pilots to controllers is much, much higher than it has been in the past, due to the influx of many, many new users this past year.  So decisions made which will tend to weed out controllers is probably a bad idea right now.

Cheers,

-R.

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I mean no disrespect when I mention those that are “Set in their ways”, as I have just recently switched to vERAM from VRC because I was comfortable with VRC. It took so long for me to make the switch because I had no desire to learn a new system that was so heavily based on a more complicated command syntax and have to worry about dealing with “newb” pilots with realistic limitations of a system like vERAM. I was challenged with the idea of “If you are pushing for a simulation of the ATC atmosphere but not willing to learn the realistic software to go along with it, what are you doing?”. I then switched have once learning the system (took about 5-6 sessions before I got a real hang of it).

 

Terms like “Ultra-Realistic” tend to only be used by those that aren't happy with learning/using realistic software. This entire thread is based around making these software easier to use in a situation where the actual way they do it in RW is just impossible to do on the network... so I wouldn't call vSTARS and vERAM “Ultra-Realistic”... but maybe just realistic.

 

“So decisions made which will tend to weed out controllers is probably a bad idea right now.”

I have zero interest “Weeding” out controllers but I am also not sad to see them go if they carry the mentality of vERAM and vSTARS being “too realistic”. The same way that we don't drop our training standards because of low ATC counts, I would suggest we don't make game-like/easy mode/right click/etc.. ATC clients. As I have stated before, we are having a lot of success teaching our new (OBS) students these more realistic clients right from the start without introducing VRC and we are doing great and as it has always been, as the ATC numbers decline, they will rise again.

 

I am also an advocate for making the RW limitations built into these clients for the simple fact of things like the 7110.65 and other documents are built around these limitations. Teaching our students the .65 and then teaching them something like vERAM with it's limitations, things just naturally “Click” with them.

 

 

Kyle Sanders
VATUSA
ZLC ARTCC

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The only two things that come to my mind, at the moment:

  • Being able to reduce the size of the ASDE-X window more so than I'm able to now. Even on a secondary monitor, the ASDE-X window takes up more real-estate than is ideal.
  • The ability to create a new display for users providing TDM services to airports without ASDE-X displays.
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Posted (edited)

From my perspective, I'd like to minimize the number of radar clients that we must support. Each one comes with a time investment. I see no way to eliminate either vSTARS or vERAM due to their distinct use cases, and I'm not crazy about the idea of adopting "yet another client." I'm also not thrilled with the non-US centric aspect of the other clients. We really like using your software, Ross.... so, getting a few more TDM capabilities in vSTARS seems to be the way I'd vote, also.

I have no strong opinion on the realism spectrum debate; I understand why some desire it and why some don't care. (Although I do find it funny that we want to emulate real-world systems that themselves have some poorly designed interfaces). Perhaps you could solve this with a plug-in or user exit capability (vis-à-vis vatSYS and EuroScope)? I'm sure it wouldn't meet every desire, but could give folks a way to get what they want.

As far as TDM in vSTARS, I saw the others mentioned some fine suggestions, so I won't repeat them. Did anyone mention static text or some way to label taxiways or features easily? I know you could do that with geometry in the video map, but the most granular scale requires the text to be rather large compared to taxiways (for example).

Regarding the end-of-life designation, the looming nature of a breaking VATSIM change probably worries some folks. Ross, how many cookies, dollars, bottles of whiskey, or _____________ (DM me your request) can we send to you for a pinky promise to fix any breaking changes in VRC only until the TDM stuff you're planning is available for vSTARS? 

Edited by Jason Cochran
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36 minutes ago, Kyle Sanders said:

I have zero interest “Weeding” out controllers but I am also not sad to see them go if they carry the mentality of vERAM and vSTARS being “too realistic”. The same way that we don't drop our training standards because of low ATC counts, I would suggest we don't make game-like/easy mode/right click/etc.. ATC clients. As I have stated before, we are having a lot of success teaching our new (OBS) students these more realistic clients right from the start without introducing VRC and we are doing great and as it has always been, as the ATC numbers decline, they will rise again.

Why should you care how realistic other controllers’ clients are? At the end of the day, we’re providing a service to pilots. They can’t tell what client we’re using if we follow the .65. If a controller wants to make it easier on themselves to provide this service, when why should we decide that that isn’t right? It’s 100% your decision whether you want to make this more realistic for yourself or not.

 

I personally only use the realistic clients because I prefer that realism, but as a mentor, I can tell you that students using VRC do not “lower the standards”. Students who use VRC are no less skilled than those using vSTARS or vERAM, they’re just using a different set of tools to accomplish the same thing.

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Posted (edited)
16 minutes ago, Will Wright 1252554 said:

Why should you care how realistic other controllers’ clients are? At the end of the day, we’re providing a service to pilots. They can’t tell what client we’re using if we follow the .65. If a controller wants to make it easier on themselves to provide this service, when why should we decide that that isn’t right? It’s 100% your decision whether you want to make this more realistic for yourself or not.

 

I personally only use the realistic clients because I prefer that realism, but as a mentor, I can tell you that students using VRC do not “lower the standards”. Students who use VRC are no less skilled than those using vSTARS or vERAM, they’re just using a different set of tools to accomplish the same thing.

 True.

I don't care about what other people are really using with a few exceptions that are outside the scope of this thread.

My opinion (and should be taken as just that; opinion) is that Ross is our main, if not only developer for these clients and his time is limited and valuable. It can be considered a limited resource and to me, our resource allocation should be shifted to things such as making a more functional QU (and like-commands) along with TDM rather than right click menus, request lists, double clicking to draw a line that tells you a heading and distance that you should be able to tell just by looking at the RVM and reference points, etc...

 

Also, im not saying that any "Standards" are lowered with those that use VRC... I am replying to Robert's argument that if we have low amounts of controllers, we shouldn't be making decision that result in lowering those numbers. If that is our standard by what we go by, we shouldn't ever raise standards or enforce the ones we have, because that could be taken as a decision that results in lower number of ATC.

Edited by Kyle Sanders
Clarification for "Standards"

Kyle Sanders
VATUSA
ZLC ARTCC

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1 hour ago, Jason Cochran said:

Regarding the end-of-life designation, the looming nature of a breaking VATSIM change probably worries some folks. Ross, how many cookies, dollars, bottles of whiskey, or _____________ (DM me your request) can we send to you for a pinky promise to fix any breaking changes in VRC only until the TDM stuff you're planning is available for vSTARS? 

It is in the best interest of everyone involved not to roll out any changes that break VRC until we have a suitable replacement ready to go. No cookies, dollars, or booze will be necessary. :classic_biggrin:

Developer: vPilot, VRC, vSTARS, vERAM, VAT-Spy

Senior Controller, Boston Virtual ARTCC

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3 minutes ago, Ross Carlson said:

It is in the best interest of everyone involved not to roll out any changes that break VRC until we have a suitable replacement ready to go. No cookies, dollars, or booze will be necessary. :classic_biggrin:

 

If that happened, I think we'd have a number of people fighting to get to the front of the line to secretly replace someone's Pepsi stash with caramel-colored pickle juice. 😈

BL.

 

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Brad Littlejohn

ZLA Senior Controller

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Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, Kyle Sanders said:

am replying to Robert's argument that if we have low amounts of controllers, we shouldn't be making decision that result in lowering those numbers. If that is our standard by what we go by, we shouldn't ever raise standards or enforce the ones we have, because that could be taken as a decision that results in lower number of ATC.

That's a pretty narrow view, Kyle.  I'm not saying controller numbers should be "the" consideration, but certainly "a" consideration.  All across this network we have to balance the degree of realism we want, from both pilots and controllers, with the degree of inclusivity we want.  Why is this any different?  Are we eradicating default aircraft next? 

Edited by Robert Shearman Jr

Cheers,

-R.

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Sidestepping the wishlist for a moment, considering the rather "confined/focused" feel of vERAM and vSTARS as is relates to their facility files, visranges, etc., as it relates to Supervisor duties are there plans to increase functionality there? VRC is simply out of the box boom it works, whereas with the other clients I can't readily hop across the world to check on a target. Or would you suggest we just look to VatSys for now?

Brad Lee

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ZJX ARTCC

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1 hour ago, Robert Shearman Jr said:

That's a pretty narrow view, Kyle.  I'm not saying controller numbers should be "the" consideration, but certainly "a" consideration.  All across this network we have to balance the degree of realism we want, from both pilots and controllers, with the degree of inclusivity we want.  Why is this any different?  Are we eradicating default aircraft next? 

I respect your opinion that you find my view narrow but "the degree of realism we want" is obviously variable between all.

I am here to express my desired future path for this network just as you are, and hope that the BoG will push forward based on the feedback they get.

 

"Are we eradicating default aircraft next?"
-This is a VERY good idea IMO and is what other networks are doing if that default aircraft is outside the range of realistic performance.

Kyle Sanders
VATUSA
ZLC ARTCC

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Posted (edited)
14 hours ago, Ross Carlson said:

No cookies, dollars, or booze will be necessary.

Not even Krispy Kreme donuts?

Edited by Alistair Thomson
edited a mis-quote

Alistair Thomson

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Definition: a gentleman is a flying instructor in a Piper Cherokee who can change tanks without getting his face slapped.

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Posted (edited)
22 hours ago, Ross Carlson said:

... it's already very unrealistic to have a single controller covering radar and cab positions at the same time.
It's also unrealistic to have a tower controller working a tower solely from a 2D radar screen when the weather is clear.

Agreed.
To facilitate VATSIM's unrealistic top-down coverage, corresponding radar client features appear appropriate.

Edited by Mike Sweeney
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Mike / 811317
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Posted (edited)
22 hours ago, Kyle Sanders said:

Also, im not saying that any "Standards" are lowered with those that use VRC... I am replying to Robert's argument that if we have low amounts of controllers, we shouldn't be making decision that result in lowering those numbers. If that is our standard by what we go by, we shouldn't ever raise standards or enforce the ones we have, because that could be taken as a decision that results in lower number of ATC.

 

I think it is safe to say that the standard here is REALISM. However, as you have mentioned before, that realism is variable to each person on the network. But for the sake of the argument, let's break it down into three different areas:

  1. Pilots. Yes, we have our varying degrees of pilots, from those who may think it is as simple as starting a car and watching it go (for anyone who owns a newer model car, that's as simple as pushing a button) to those with their own yoke and pedals, to a fully blown simulator. There are those who go from wanting to simulate the barrel roll that was done on the demo flight of the B707 in 1959, to using this network to practice what they would do in certain situations when they can't get time in an aircraft simulator, to using this as their first step into getting into the right seat of a C172 for their first flight ever, and wanting to be prepared for it better than others were. All of those are indeed real and provide that realism, from beginning to advanced.
  2. Controllers, and more importantly, controller software. This is the bone of contention that we have right now. But in all honesty, it's more of a bone of a goldfish than that of a shark. VRC, ASRC, ProController, EuroScope, vERAM, vSTARS.. Similar to the pilots, what we have here are those that are stepping stones to the bigger, more realistic (read: real world used) software. There's room for those that are currently able to be used right now on the network, especially when one can be used to get a new controller's feet wet, for them to then step up to something more realistic. We wouldn't take our 4-year old child out to swim 5 miles out into the ocean when the most water they've been in as been up to their knees in the bathtub, would we?

    So we paddle before we swim, and we swim before we dive. Either way, the end game isn't the software for controllers; it is the
     
  3. Phraseology. If we are real here, does the ATC client even matter? If VRC or vSTARS is only visually reporting back to me the results of my calls to pilots, the pilot isn't going to see that; they are only going to hear the call, and note that my phraseology is exact for what I need the pilot to do. I had the pleasure of not only visiting NorCal TRACON (it is 3 miles south of where I live) and showing them VATSIM and VRC (it was the main client used at the time). They weren't worried about what they were seeing visually; what they were impressed with the most is that our use of proper phraseology was more exact and on point than theirs in the real world was. By contrast, we have had some controllers who started out on VATSIM, transitioned into being RW ATC, and their phraseology became sloppier than what they were using here on VATSIM, and that was despite impressing those at the FAA Academy with how far advanced they were compared to everyone else hired off the street or through different colleges/universities. We can't get much more realistic when it comes to our phraseology, especially because if the standard is real world ATC, we've beaten that standard, because we've heard it firsthand from them that our realism with phraseology is better than theirs.

So the issue here is which realism are you referring to? Because some here will be more real in what they know and what they do compared to others, despite what they use to deliver that realism.

BL.

 

Edited by Brad Littlejohn
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Brad Littlejohn

ZLA Senior Controller

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24 minutes ago, Brad Littlejohn said:

If we are real here, does the ATC client even matter?

I am fully in agreement with all you said here, particularly regarding phraseology, which is fundamentally important (and I particularly agree about your comments re. some "pro" ATC in RW not rising to the challenge), but I think, to answer your question, my answer would be YES.  That creates problems.

If "real" realism is important for pilots in VATSIM, surely it's also important for ATC for the same reasons? I agree that the pilot doesn't know or care what ATC client is used, and vice versa, but while a pilot can easily self-limit (not taking a 4-yearoid offshore) it seems to me harder to do that in ATC-land.

Is there a case for some VATSIM Mandarins  "up there in hoi oligoi" to specify different appropriately realistic client sets for different levels of ATC?

Alistair Thomson

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Definition: a gentleman is a flying instructor in a Piper Cherokee who can change tanks without getting his face slapped.

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15 hours ago, Brad Lee said:

Sidestepping the wishlist for a moment, considering the rather "confined/focused" feel of vERAM and vSTARS as is relates to their facility files, visranges, etc., as it relates to Supervisor duties are there plans to increase functionality there? VRC is simply out of the box boom it works, whereas with the other clients I can't readily hop across the world to check on a target. Or would you suggest we just look to VatSys for now?

When I was a SUP, I always used Euroscope for this task. The "not to mentioned" sector file and a dummy .ESE file did it. To check on a pilot I either added another VIS-center near the pilot or I used the .findac command. If you need more info, shoot me a PM.

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51 minutes ago, Brad Littlejohn said:

They weren't worried about what they were seeing visually; what they were impressed with the most is that our use of proper phraseology was more exact and on point than theirs in the real world was. By contrast, we have had some controllers who started out on VATSIM, transitioned into being RW ATC, and their phraseology became sloppier than what they were using here on VATSIM, and that was despite impressing those at the FAA Academy with how far advanced they were compared to everyone else hired off the street or through different colleges/universities.

Same here in Europe. In the real world we are way more informal than some here on the network. By some miracle, we don't keep crashing all the time, despite the "easy going approach". Of course, and this is the difference to VATSIM, in the real world you will find 2 professionally trained pilots working with 1 or 2 professionally trained ATCOs at a time.

Top down cover? Happens a lot, but "only" on a TMA-dimension = 1 controller manages DEL/GND/TWR/APP at the same time during a traffic lull. Happens regularly at normally busy airports like LFMN (Nice) etc..

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2 hours ago, Brad Littlejohn said:

 

I think it is safe to say that the standard here is REALISM. However, as you have mentioned before, that realism is variable to each person on the network. But for the sake of the argument, let's break it down into three different areas:

  1. Pilots. Yes, we have our varying degrees of pilots, from those who may think it is as simple as starting a car and watching it go (for anyone who owns a newer model car, that's as simple as pushing a button) to those with their own yoke and pedals, to a fully blown simulator. There are those who go from wanting to simulate the barrel roll that was done on the demo flight of the B707 in 1959, to using this network to practice what they would do in certain situations when they can't get time in an aircraft simulator, to using this as their first step into getting into the right seat of a C172 for their first flight ever, and wanting to be prepared for it better than others were. All of those are indeed real and provide that realism, from beginning to advanced.
  2. Controllers, and more importantly, controller software. This is the bone of contention that we have right now. But in all honesty, it's more of a bone of a goldfish than that of a shark. VRC, ASRC, ProController, EuroScope, vERAM, vSTARS.. Similar to the pilots, what we have here are those that are stepping stones to the bigger, more realistic (read: real world used) software. There's room for those that are currently able to be used right now on the network, especially when one can be used to get a new controller's feet wet, for them to then step up to something more realistic. We wouldn't take our 4-year old child out to swim 5 miles out into the ocean when the most water they've been in as been up to their knees in the bathtub, would we?

    So we paddle before we swim, and we swim before we dive. Either way, the end game isn't the software for controllers; it is the
     
  3. Phraseology. If we are real here, does the ATC client even matter? If VRC or vSTARS is only visually reporting back to me the results of my calls to pilots, the pilot isn't going to see that; they are only going to hear the call, and note that my phraseology is exact for what I need the pilot to do. I had the pleasure of not only visiting NorCal TRACON (it is 3 miles south of where I live) and showing them VATSIM and VRC (it was the main client used at the time). They weren't worried about what they were seeing visually; what they were impressed with the most is that our use of proper phraseology was more exact and on point than theirs in the real world was. By contrast, we have had some controllers who started out on VATSIM, transitioned into being RW ATC, and their phraseology became sloppier than what they were using here on VATSIM, and that was despite impressing those at the FAA Academy with how far advanced they were compared to everyone else hired off the street or through different colleges/universities. We can't get much more realistic when it comes to our phraseology, especially because if the standard is real world ATC, we've beaten that standard, because we've heard it firsthand from them that our realism with phraseology is better than theirs.

So the issue here is which realism are you referring to? Because some here will be more real in what they know and what they do compared to others, despite what they use to deliver that realism.

BL.

 

I honestly think you hit the nail on the head when it came to the Phraseology topic.

Yes, there are many aspects to consider when we are talking about realism and one of the factors I believe we could do more with is the software we use.

You made mention about how VRC could be used as a stepping stone and I completely agree; Myself along with many others (maybe you?) have started with VRC and went on to do great things with that being the stepping stone. My argument is that we don't need VRC as a stepping stone. Had I started out with something like vSTARS or vERAM, I think would have done just fine, along with many others. I don't have to guess, we are seeing it right now over at ZLC.

"We wouldn't take our 4-year old child out to swim 5 miles out into the ocean when the most water they've been in as been up to their knees in the bathtub, would we?"
-I imagine you are using this metaphor to relate us starting these guys out on something like vSTARS is like throwing them into the deep end. I could not disagree any more with this metaphor or even the intended statement.

When you are working DEL, there are VERY few commands to learn on the more realistic clients. Then moving to ground... again very little commands to be learned (if any)... then to TWR, hardly any new commands with the exception of maybe learning to track targets and handoff/pointout.... then APP... by this time, these little amounts of commands that they learned at a slow pace has built to a pretty decent level and they know it like the back of their hands. By the time you get to approach, the only things that really change is your scope setup. Your experience by this time makes this a null-factor.

I would rather the person who develops the software focus their time developing realistic clients rather than game-like feel.
I am glad to hear that he basically feels the same way.

Kyle Sanders
VATUSA
ZLC ARTCC

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Posted (edited)
20 hours ago, Kyle Sanders said:

"Are we eradicating default aircraft next?"
-This is a VERY good idea IMO and is what other networks are doing if that default aircraft is outside the range of realistic performance.

This is ludicrous. I could fly the default FSX 737 and you wouldn't know, outside of maybe the equipment suffix but it'd be a toss up between default 737 or simulating deferred FMS. I'm much more experienced and I know how to use the tools, or lack thereof, the default 737 has. There are many pilots on this network that can say the same. There are also a lot of pilots on this network with the NGXu, Zibbo, whatever, and they have no clue what they are doing and usually end up destroying an event. The plane a pilot chooses doesn't matter so much as the skill of the pilot. The same is true for the controllers radar client. Whether or not somebody uses VRC, vSTARS, or vERAM really does not matter, the skill of the controller using the client is the only thing that truly matters. 

I choose the NGXu when I fly because I enjoy the realism, not because it makes me a better pilot. I like VRC when I control because I don't have interest in the complexity of a realistic radar client, I just want to move the blips, and I'm not a worse controller because of that preference.

Edited by Ryan Parry
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Ryan Parry - 965346

VATUSA Western Region Manager

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Step back for a minute and think how the real world systems keep trying to improve the interface so that the operator spends less mental capacity on using the tool and more on accomplishing the result.

Compare that to some of this discussion which is advocating forcing things to be more complex so that we spend less time separating airplanes and more time trying to remember the syntax of the commands.

I think this is the very definition of the term Luddite.

Ross - thanks for VRC.  It has its place and has been a launch pad for many virtual controlling careers.  I'm sure the community will adapt.

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Steven Perry

VATSIM Supervisor

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To get us back on topic (it seems it has been sidetracked into realism and speaking), I agree with Nate's posts on needs to accommodate non-radar tower use.

As FE, I have built files for vSTARS only for towered fields that are B's and C's. We have a bunch of D's that I would rather not built a file for in vSTARS. So the features mentioned by those above to facilitate tower coverage should be added to vERAM to allow that program to be used for other towers. It would seem to handle the limited code availability issue mentioned above also.

Also I intend to keep a clean copy of VRC for my own use as FE as it is invaluable in ringing out sector file issues before I load them into vSTARS or vERAM. Even if you terminate updates to VRC, please keep the sector file converters so I can translate .sct2 files in to vSTARS & vERAM.

Thanks for all you programming efforts VATSIM, Ed

Ed Sterling

ZAB C3/G-EDCS

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