It's been some time since we last checked in with some news about the state of the union - or rather, the state of the website. Over the last few weeks we have made some changes to Flightsim.to and in the coming weeks there will be more changes that we look forward to with confidence. First of all, I would like to personally apologise for the lack of communication and information during these weeks. Staying in touch with our community is a serious concern for me personally, and we all know full well that the success of Flightsim.to depends not only on fantastic creators who upload their add-ons, liveries and mods here, but also on the community who download, use and share these add-ons on a daily basis. We want Flightsim.to to remain a community project and it is unequivocally clear that we have to rely on the voices of the community to achieve this.
However, we have been holding back on the information as we simply haven't found a suitable time to reach you with news as we have never really been fully satisfied with the changes so far. Flightsim.to strives for perfection - and perfection is something that is difficult to achieve, as you probably know. We prefer to announce changes when they have been fully planned, implemented, tested and drilled to perfection: But this is exactly what takes time. Summer is coming, we all have real lives besides Flight Simulation, and time slots we liked to have were not always available. But we are very confident that we want to do things well and conscientiously, and if it takes more time, so be it. It's time for a few words about what we've been working on over the last few days.
- Flightsim.to lives from its creators and their creations. We have created a completely new design for the file page and now focus more on add-ons, their descriptions and screenshots. The updated file page is now more in line with the general appearance of Flightsim.to.
- We have added roadmaps, group messaging, polls and backlogs for creators. This way we want to encourage communication between creators and users. Creators can reach their followers via the group messaging feature, share progress of their work, start polls or post news that followers can react to. This feature is currently in testing stage and we will need to improve it further.
- We will now send email notifications if a file you follow has received an important update. This way you will know immediately when a new update is available. The only requirement is that your email is verified, that you follow the file you want to receive notifications for, and that you are opted in for newsletters, which is the default setting.
- We now provide a RSS feed for the latest uploaded and updated files.
- We now save images in JPG format by default. Originally, the uploaded images, wallpapers and screenshots were not converted, which led to considerable sizes and correspondingly longer download times. Thanks to the new conversion, the file sizes are now smaller, load faster and lose nearly no visual quality at all. In the course of the next few days, the existing images will also be converted, which should result in a faster website in general.
- We have improved minor bugs, display errors and translation errors here and there.
- Our scenery map has already reached over 13 thousand sceneries all over the world. That's incredible, and it's getting more every day!
- Creators can now make use of a so-called "Delayed Releasing" feature to schedule when their uploaded file should be launched. We will then automatically launch the file at the given time, even while you're asleep! This feature is available for users with more than three uploads and we support this type of releasing only in the scenery and livery categories.
- Creators can now thank commenters on feedback with a simple click on the new "Thank you" button. This eliminates the need for comments such as "Thank you for your feedback", as in the future one click will suffice for this. We will notify the comment author when a creator has thanked the user's comment.
- Other users can now also react to comments with a "thumbs up" or "thumbs down".
- There are some new categories, including for example a category for Stream Deck files.
- We now provide creators with even more information about who is downloading their add-ons. Previously, the statistics were limited to the last 14 days. We have now extended this period to just over a month. In addition, we now show 30 countries from which the most downloads originate instead of 10, and we now break down downloads even further by city, region and time zone.
- The "Modify File" page now saves which tab you were on last, so you don't have to keep switching back after a change has been saved. This saves exactly one click, one second and a lot of nerves!
- The "My Downloads" page has been fundamentally reworked - here, too, "browsing" now works much better.
- Premium Membership: You can read more about it right below.
- Payware: Preparations are in full swing.
- API: We want third parties to be able to connect to Flightsim.to to create cool apps.
- Re-designs: Some page designs and implementations are a thorn in our side. We will therefore adapt and improve them: for example the Requests page.
Controversy regarding the download countdown
A few days ago, we also implemented a change that affects file downloads. While the waiting time before a download starts is nothing new, we have changed this to the effect that during the waiting time - i.e. while the countdown is running - you have to remain active on the respective browser window or browser tab. The timer would no longer count down if you switched tabs or browsed pages in between. We have received mixed feedback on this change. First of all, we'll explain what our intention was and how we saw things:
- Downloads and the outgoing traffic are associated with immense costs for Flightsim.to. After all, we have to provide an infrastructure that allows parallel downloads between hundreds of users simultaneously without major losses in speed and available bandwidth. With the success of the site, costs naturally increase. Don't misunderstand - we are very pleased that the site has become such a major hub for Flight Simulation add-ons, and of course we already knew that running such a project involves high costs sooner or later. As we have no paid memberships or any other sort of steady income, we rely on advertising. The countdown helps us to cover costs by displaying advertisements while users are waiting for their downloads to start. For Flightsim.to, the income from advertising is a fundamental pillar that makes the existence of the project possible. The only problem is that if users switch tabs during the countdown, they will not see any advertising. On the other hand, the countdown also serves to prevent parallel downloads and mass downloads ("one hit downloads") by setting a small threshold of a few seconds between the downloads, which protects our server and thus also the entire traffic volume.
- We defended this change as follows: Flightsim.to does not actively throttle the bandwidth for downloading files. While other hosting services similar to ours limit and stop the download speed at a few KB/s, Flightsim.to allows users to download unthrottled at any time. The only limitation that applies is the capacity of our servers. There is no active throttling, and up to now we have not sold any premium memberships with which you can "buy" this unlimited speed - something other providers in our industry have always done. Our idea was therefore fundamentally based on this: the maximum 20 seconds that you wait for your download to start with us has - compared to other providers - no effect at all, since the downloads are faster once they start. In short: Yes, you initially have to wait 20 seconds, but in return, you would get a 20 seconds faster download - figuratively speaking.
So, here's your feedback: There were some users who didn't really care and were happy to put up with these few seconds if they could download at a faster speed. For others, the "activity requirement" during the countdown was a significant problem. And admittedly: Even if it was never our intention, it was annoying. Based on your feedback, we have decided to reverse this change. If you want to be a big help to Flightsim.to, you can voluntarily leave the tab active until the timer counts down, and if you have other things to do at that moment - for example watching cute cat videos on YouTube - you can also switch between tabs.
Introducing Flightsim.to Premium
But you can do both: Enjoy fast, easy downloads and support Flightsim.to at the same time. Based on your feedback, we will offer an optional Premium Membership in a few days for those who want to actively support Flightsim.to. No worries, we are not making any changes for non-premium users - that goes against our philosophy. Premium users can simply skip the countdowns and are directly routed through a global content delivery network to realize even faster download speeds - up to 10 times faster, to be precise, as Premium traffic is completely cut from all other traffic happening on Flightsim.to.
At the same time, Premium Members are not only supporting Flightsim.to, but also one of their favourite creators - because we will be donating a share of the price directly to a creator of their choice. We will tell you more details when the time comes!
What about payware?
We already announced a few months ago that we would soon offer payware add-ons as well. We are happy that more than 40 potential payware partners have already contacted us who would like to sell high-quality items on Flightsim.to. We are working on getting everything in place and we are confident that it will be ready soon.
The holidays are coming up: We're hiring!
So, if you are still reading this, you are a true fan and supporter of Flightsim.to - thank you for that! Now the summer holidays are coming up in many countries and we need a holiday too. We are actively looking for fellows to help us run and moderate the site. Specifically we are looking for: News Reporters, Video Producers and Site Moderators. Please come to our Community Discord server over here to find out how to apply.
See you then, have a good flight!