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Planning ahead for retiring VRC


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1 hour ago, Karl Mathias Moberg said:

On a side note: with CPDLC being more and more adopted on VATSIM with multiple aircraft now supporting the Hoppie CPDLC client and quite a few our European collegues using it through Euroscope: any chance for this new client to either support it natively, or allow for others to build a plugin at a later point that could allow for that functionality?

Thanks for the suggestion. However, I won't be adding any new functionality to the client just yet. Have a look at my previous reply for more details on that.

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

Senior Controller, Boston Virtual ARTCC

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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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8 hours ago, Ross Carlson said:

 

8 hours ago, Kyle Sanders said:

The name "Consolidated Radar Client" is good but considering that you are designing this not completely around RADAR, maybe Triple C "Consolidated Controller Client" would be more accurate.

I like it. And it reminds me of my favorite aircraft, the triple 7. :classic_smile:

"Calverton" 😄 

New York ARTCC

Instructor // ZNY/ZWY Facility Coordinator

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1 hour ago, Alex Ying said:

"Calverton"

Yep. The temptation seems to be to choose a descriptive abbreviation as a mnemonic, so we have an interminable list which includes VRC, vSTARS, vERAM and yawns like that (NOT the software, I hasten to point out, which is incredibly useful, just the abbreviation) so it would be refreshingly different to call the thing something else more intimately associated with the interests of the author, rather than a shorthand for the functions of the software itself.

Like calling an OS Linux. Every time I see that OS mentioned, I picture a little cartoon guy with floppy hair, comfort blanket placed close by, focussing intently on his current obsession, with Charlie Brown and the girl with the naturally curly hair looking on, bemused but keeping their distance. It always makes me smile.

Or maybe Schroeder, with his intent to play music and to [ModHappyThoughts] :) with the world's expectations of him. Maybe that smacks too much of pretension, but Ross has none of that and any name he comes up with will be OK by me. No pressure... :)

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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11 hours ago, Ross Carlson said:

call it ROXX

Suck deep on a ROXX

Down into your SOXX

And soon you'll be thinking

Outside of the BOXX

(Sorry, I'm starting to post the kind of stuff you normally only find on Discord :classic_angry: )

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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  • 2 weeks later...
Posted (edited)
On 5/21/2021 at 1:55 AM, Ross Carlson said:

In terms of functionality, the ERAM and STARS modes would work just like they do now in vERAM and vSTARS, and the top-down mode would be removed. These modes would be for the user that is looking for realism in the client.

Would there be some option to enable it? I believe it would be very difficult to run a top-down session on an ERAM display on a single-monitor while having to 1) take up space with an ASDE-X display 2) be constantly switching between airports.

On 5/21/2021 at 1:55 AM, Ross Carlson said:

Updating the facility definitions and maps will happen when you first run the client and it will be mandatory, not opt-in. That way everyone knows that everyone is using the same information.

Would you be able to add an "external host URL" field or something similar for any member that wants to download custom files? Additionally, would the facility engineering client be made a bit more user friend? The current map editors for vSTARS and vERAM are clunky and it's very hard to make changes to things at times. I know users have created applications to help with this, but ideally I would imagine most day-to-day functions should be handled from the client. This becomes a problem when files get complex.

Some issues with the current setup I thought of off the top of my head:

  1. POF/Alias uploading: being able to upload an alias/POF file to multiple facilities at once (or only to certain facilities if you wanted a different alias/POF per-facility), similar to my "custom file" point above, I know many users that use their own alias file.
  2. Maps: rearranging maps is extremely tedious in vERAM, and slightly tedious in vSTARS, quickly uploading new maps is a process.
  3. Profile saving: I understand it's not existent in vERAM, but if we're going with a new client with many different "modes", maybe the profile selection can include an organizational structure (at least the ability to create a group that holds multiples types of one profile [e.g. having "West Ops" and "East Ops" groups]).
On 5/21/2021 at 10:36 AM, Kyle Sanders said:

Scratchpads (4th line data) would not transfer between ERAM & STARS.

How would a scenario where a controller running an ERAM scope top-down points out to a STARS/Generic facility (that would have normally received the pointout if the controller was running a STARS scope)?

^^ EDIT: disregard this last section

Edited by Josh Glottmann

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

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18 minutes ago, Josh Glottmann said:

How would a scenario where a controller running an ERAM scope top-down points out to a STARS/Generic facility (that would have normally received the pointout if the controller was running a STARS scope)?

I am unsure of what you are asking.

Can you put this into an actual scenario with some details please?

Kyle Sanders
VATUSA
ZLC ARTCC

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54 minutes ago, Josh Glottmann said:

How would a scenario where a controller running an ERAM scope top-down points out to a STARS/Generic facility (that would have normally received the pointout if the controller was running a STARS scope)?

One STARS facility can’t send automated pointouts to another STARS facility, unless you’re speaking to a situation where a controller would be working one area or sector of a large TRACON with the center controller working the rest of that TRACON’s airspace top-down, which is a conceivable split in ZOA I guess.

Dhruv Kalra

VATUSA ZMP ATM | Instructor | VATSIM Network Supervisor

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8 minutes ago, Dhruv Kalra said:

One STARS facility can’t send automated pointouts to another STARS facility, unless you’re speaking to a situation where a controller would be working one area or sector of a large TRACON with the center controller working the rest of that TRACON’s airspace top-down, which is a conceivable split in ZOA I guess.

After re-reading this, I think that this is probably too much of a fringe case. I'm thinking of a large TRACON scenario where one controller is only working a certain area and the top-down enroute controller is handling other areas in the TRACON. Probably not worth the complexity to implement.

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

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3 hours ago, Josh Glottmann said:

Would there be some option to enable it? I believe it would be very difficult to run a top-down session on an ERAM display on a single-monitor while having to 1) take up space with an ASDE-X display 2) be constantly switching between airports.

Maybe, but I think the idea is going to be to keep the ERAM/STARS modes realistic, and if you want to do something like you describe, where you are working top down and only have the ability to have a single display, you would use the Generic display mode.

3 hours ago, Josh Glottmann said:

Would you be able to add an "external host URL" field or something similar for any member that wants to download custom files?

There would be nothing stopping you from hosting your own file. I would highly discourage it, though, since you would be responsible for keeping your custom file up to date with any changes made to the official one.

What kind of customizations would you want to make?

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

Senior Controller, Boston Virtual ARTCC

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3 hours ago, Ross Carlson said:

Maybe, but I think the idea is going to be to keep the ERAM/STARS modes realistic, and if you want to do something like you describe, where you are working top down and only have the ability to have a single display, you would use the Generic display mode.

I feel like if this client is possibly slated to replace vERAM/vSTARS and VRC down the road (which it may or may not be), there should probably be some support for a single-display top-down mode that allows for some aspects of realism. I have worked top-down on a small laptop screen using vERAM. It's fine and totally doable, but if I had to have a separate screen taking up some of my vERAM display to work ground at every airport, I think it would be chaotic. I don't know what a good solution is for this but including TDM probably helps.

3 hours ago, Ross Carlson said:

What kind of customizations would you want to make?

At least in ZOA, there are some controllers who prefer to have more detailed video maps, while the official file has more simplified/a reduced number of maps. I think since sector files have existed, many people have gone ahead and modified their own maps. How would you handle if I wanted a custom map for the "NCT" STARS facility but not custom maps for "ZOA" or "SFO"?

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

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Posted (edited)

 

1 hour ago, Josh Glottmann said:

I feel like if this client is possibly slated to replace vERAM/vSTARS and VRC down the road

It definitely will replace all three. vERAM and vSTARS will be retired as well, since there would be no point in maintaining them going forward.

1 hour ago, Josh Glottmann said:

I have worked top-down on a small laptop screen using vERAM. It's fine and totally doable, but if I had to have a separate screen taking up some of my vERAM display to work ground at every airport, I think it would be chaotic. I don't know what a good solution is for this but including TDM probably helps.

Yeah, there needs to be a better solution for a center controller working top down. I've talked to quite a few controllers, and the general consensus is that vERAM is not suitable for top down.  TDM helps, but it doesn't quite do the job. That's the number one reason I hear why controllers stick to VRC for center. And I hear similar things about vSTARS.

There are a number of problems with the way TDM works in vERAM/vSTARS currently:

  1. FEs have to add ground maps to the ERAM/STARS facility files.
  2. It muddies the user interface in that some commands work on TDM targets, some don't, and vice versa.
  3. It makes the code MUCH more complicated having to deal with some aircraft that are within radar coverage, and some that are not.

I want to keep the ERAM/STARS modes "pure" in that you are only working with radar tracks, just like the real systems.

For users with a single display working top down, I think the solution might be to have a way to quickly switch your that single display between different emulation modes. For example, normally it would be in ERAM mode, but when you invoke a bookmark, it switches to Generic mode and centers/zooms in on the airport where you set the bookmark. So it would be similar to TDM, but it would do more than just enable the display of simple data blocks for targets that are not within radar coverage. It would also enable all the functionality of Generic mode (which, remember, is essentially just like VRC.)

Not sure what the right approach is yet ... needs more thought.

1 hour ago, Josh Glottmann said:

How would you handle if I wanted a custom map for the "NCT" STARS facility but not custom maps for "ZOA" or "SFO"?

You would just create and host your own NCT STARS facility definition file.

Edited by Ross Carlson

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

Senior Controller, Boston Virtual ARTCC

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I’ve never had a problem working top-down with vERAM? 🤷‍♂️

Matt Bartels
VP: Marketing & Communication
## vpmkt (at) vatsim.net
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Unless otherwise stated, opinions are my own and not representative of the official opinion of the VATSIM Board of Governors

 

 

 

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

 

For users with a single display working top down, I think the solution might be to have a way to quickly switch your that single display between different emulation modes. For example, normally it would be in ERAM mode, but when you invoke a bookmark, it switches to Generic mode and centers/zooms in on the airport where you set the bookmark. So it would be similar to TDM, but it would do more than just enable the display of simple data blocks for targets that are not within radar coverage. It would also enable all the functionality of Generic mode (which, remember, is essentially just like VRC.)

This sounds like a GREAT approach to resolve the issues.

However, if you wanted to keep with the TDM system, the attached corrections to the system as it is now would make it 100% more usable.

I (as an FE) also make use of the TDM because I can have it bring up certain maps that are hidden by default and it acts as somewhat of a simulation of the RW device called a Keyboard Selection Device (KSD) to just easily press a button on a small device and it displays certain GEOMAPs and then is easily toggled back off. It’s used for TAVs, Special Airspace, to toggle high boundaries if you are working lows, etc… I have also used it (vERAM) to display NAVAID and Significant Fix names. If you get rid of TDM, I would appreciate the ability to continue to have this type of ability in some other fashion.

DEB81735-0A9A-4F9E-909B-955C81D8A5B9.jpeg

09B005B1-7D03-4EB2-BDD0-EB6ABB8BE138.jpeg

Edited by Kyle Sanders

Kyle Sanders
VATUSA
ZLC ARTCC

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9 hours ago, Ross Carlson said:

For example, normally it would be in ERAM mode, but when you invoke a bookmark, it switches to Generic mode and centers/zooms in on the airport where you set the bookmark.

I think this doesn’t fully help with the problem still. I use the CTRL+T shortcut to do a quick scan of aircraft on the ground at my airports. If I had to cycle through all the airports with different bookmarks, or if all my datatags got funky, that could be challenging. Here are two ideas I thought of:

Ground Information mini-menu

  • Have a very small “ground information” window that lists all aircraft on the ground at airports in a selected group.
  • First column is callsign, second is airport, third is a “D”/“A”/“?” to indicate their departure/arrival status. List is sorted by airport, D then A, then callsign. 
  • When you double click on an aircraft’s row in that window, it centers on a pre-defined airport zoom for the airport they are at in ASDE-X or Generic mode (as determined by the FE). Double right click to hide from the list (and use a key command to manually add back). Maybe some other functionality like opening FP, etc. could be included. 
  • There is a setting symbol in some corner. The settings button pulls up a menu to select which airports are included with check-box menus where you can select the whole group, subgroups, individual airports, etc. Examples (facility->area->airport or just facility->airport): “ZOA->North->KSTS” or “NCT->Area A->KSJC”.
  • The overall idea with this mini-menu is that you could be able to scan your ground coverage without even having to zoom in. You only need to pull up the display when an aircraft calls up or you are doing a periodic scan. Maybe some other functionality like highlighting a callsign if there is movement > 5 kts with no beacon code assigned at specified airports.
  • Maybe this is too much work to implement but I feel like it could make top-down a bit easier. 

Ground-only scope

  • Press some key command and a generic scope pops up with only aircraft less than 1000 AGL and X NM from airports displayed.
  • Double clicking near an airport would zoom to a preset zoom level/center. Double click again to exit.
  • Bookmarks for this window to scan primary airports. 
  • Same keybind to close window as to open it. 

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

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1 hour ago, Josh Glottmann said:

I think this doesn’t fully help with the problem still. I use the CTRL+T shortcut to do a quick scan of aircraft on the ground at my airports. If I had to cycle through all the airports with different bookmarks, or if all my datatags got funky, that could be challenging.

So you use TDM like a "see all" or "quick look", essentially. I assume you still have to zoom in to an airport if there are multiple aircraft there, since their data blocks would all overlap if you were zoomed out. Probably it would be sufficient to just have a hotkey for "see all", and then also have the functionality I described earlier where you can use a bookmark to zoom in on an airport and enter Generic mode.

1 hour ago, Josh Glottmann said:

Ground Information mini-menu

I do plan to have aircraft lists similar to VRC. I don't think it needs to be as configurable as you describe, though. I think just a way of adding/removing airports from the list would be sufficient. The list of airports would be saved with your profile.

1 hour ago, Josh Glottmann said:

Ground-only scope

This is what I believe most top-down controllers will do ... they'll have a secondary window in Generic mode with bookmarks to jump between airports. I was also thinking there could be a row of buttons across the top of the window which would serve the same function as the bookmarks, but they would have a label such as the airport ID. So you can easily jump to an airport without having to remember which bookmark number you set for that airport.

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

Senior Controller, Boston Virtual ARTCC

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58 minutes ago, Ross Carlson said:

So you use TDM like a "see all" or "quick look", essentially. I assume you still have to zoom in to an airport if there are multiple aircraft there, since their data blocks would all overlap if you were zoomed out. Probably it would be sufficient to just have a hotkey for "see all", and then also have the functionality I described earlier where you can use a bookmark to zoom in on an airport and enter Generic mode.

Yeah, exactly. I use TDM to quicklook, then use a bookmark to get to the airport. If the generic display could filter aircraft not on the ground, I think that would be helpful. Then I could toggle the display open/closed similar to the text comms. Maybe to make things easier you could add two sets of bookmarks too?

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

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On 6/1/2021 at 4:53 PM, Josh Glottmann said:

After re-reading this, I think that this is probably too much of a fringe case. I'm thinking of a large TRACON scenario where one controller is only working a certain area and the top-down enroute controller is handling other areas in the TRACON. Probably not worth the complexity to implement.

This is a regular occurrence at ZNY/N90 so at least in my opinion this would be worth doing. I regularly cover only parts of N90 while on ZNY and send point-outs to N90 TRACON controllers for climbs, descents, and aircraft flying places other-than-where they should be.

If this is too complicated to implement, is there a good reason not to just allow point-outs between all facilities like VRC does?

New York ARTCC

Instructor // ZNY/ZWY Facility Coordinator

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28 minutes ago, Alex Ying said:

If this is too complicated to implement, is there a good reason not to just allow point-outs between all facilities like VRC does?

Interfacility pointouts were deliberately prevented in vSTARS and vERAM for the sake of realism. I think this is probably a case where it makes sense to depart from realism in order to make top-down controlling more feasible. I'll remove that restriction in the new client.

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

Senior Controller, Boston Virtual ARTCC

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21 hours ago, Ross Carlson said:

Maybe to make things easier you could add two sets of bookmarks too?
What do you mean by this?

If the TDM display is a toggle-able window like the text window, it could have its own set of bookmarks. If it is just a filter mode that occurs on the ERAM/STARS display, then maybe controllers could have two sets of bookmarks: the primary CTRL+#, then a secondary CTRL+A+# (or any letter) in order to add more options for zooming in on airports.

3 hours ago, Ross Carlson said:

I'll remove that restriction in the new client.

Maybe make it a checkbox in the facility settings?

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

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