Working on the installer is neither exciting nor glamorous work, but it is inescapably important. If the installer doesn’t do its job right, nothing else in X-Plane matters, because you can’t fly the sim until you have the sim. This is particularly true since we push out regular patches during the life of the product.
X-Plane 10.04 will complete it’s beta cycle in the next week, and this update includes a new installer with a fairly major change: the DVD installer (which also adds and removes scenery) and the net updater are being merged. (The demo installer remains separate.) The rest of this post explains what’s going on and why.
The updater and DVD installer were originally separated a few years ago so that each update/install product could do exactly one thing. We kept getting tech support calls where users tried to update and instead installed a demo copy. By having each tool do one task and only one task, it helped users to do that one task without error.
Fast forward a few years. People have faster broadband, we have more server bandwidth, and we’re using OpenStreetMap for our scenery; scenery updates are going to be part of the product. (We have already patched 5 DSFs that had major defects when originally produced.)
So now when you go to add or remove scenery, running a net update may be a necessary step to finish the scenery. That is, you need to get new scenery from you DVD, and then grab any newer patches off the web. By merging the updater and installer, we can build an installer that provides updates immediately, eliminating a second step. (This also means that when you first install the sim, we can update to latest before you run.)
The new installer/updater will also remove the “repair installation” option (which is now replaced with “update installation). The old repair option restores an installation back to the DVD version, which is almost always older than the net version, and thus undoes bug fixes (which is hardly a “repair” at all). A net update should be more useful.
Update from the about box is still supported – when you update from the about box, the sim downloads the latest installer/updater and runs it, skipping the main menu and going directly into an update.