Orbx Formally Unveils New Product Installer: Orbx Central

Alex John
Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Orbx Central is a new product installer to replace FTX Central. It is not to be confused with TrueEarth GB Central.

Last year, Orbx said they would replace their FTX Central 3 application with Orbx Central: newer, better and overhauled software for their users. Today sees the details of Orbx Central released on their forum by Ben McClintock, which will also run on Mac and Linux a well as Windows.

The aforementioned platforms of Lac and Linux are supported. This will allow any product to be installed not just into X-Plane, but FSX and Prepar3D too, on any of the three main operating systems.

Orbx Central running in the Mac environment

The user interface has also been revamped, and will be the same across all operating systems. It will feature the winning screenshot of their screenshot competition, updated once a month.

"You’ll see large screenshots, clear text, and a responsive interface."

Ben continued by detailing the homepage of the user interface by stating:

"When you start Central, you’ll be presented with a beautiful Netflix-style homepage. We’ll use this to let you know what we’re working on, and also for inspiration towards completing your Orbx collection."

The application also has a filtering tool to find exactly what you're looking for. This can also be accessed by pressing Ctrl + F.

There is also a section dedicated to the products a user already owns, split into different categories. It will aid in making installations easier:

Another key highlight is the integration of the Orbx store, which allows any product to be purchased directly in the application. With a saved card in Orbx Central, impulse purchases only require two clicks to buy and install the product.

Furthermore automatic updates can be enabled to let a user's product be kept up-to-date whilst the simulator is not running. This can be disabled globally, or per-product:

One issue that TrueEarth GB products caused for X-Plane users is that they must be installed onto the same drive that FTX Central 3 is installed on. If there is not enough space on the drive (typically C:\), the product cannot be installed. Orbx Central solves this problem by introducing libraries: custom locations anywhere on a computer.

"You could have one library on a large HDD for storing region products, then have a smaller SSD for airports. It’s completely up to you."

The downloader is also much faster than FTX Central 3. A lot of optimisation has resulted in faster install times, such as:

  • Scanning - Scanning for EGCB takes 4,080 milliseconds in FTX Central 3, but only 24 in Central.
  • JPG to DDS conversions - This is now done whilst the product is still being downloaded, eliminating the requirement for the product to be converted separately from the download.
  • Multithreading - Rather than having one file download at once, multiple files can be downloaded at once.
  • Download pausing - This is only possible in the download phase in FTX Central 3. Orbx Central allows the download/install to be pasued or cancelled at any time.
  • Optimised - Further refinements to the code reduce the time it takes to communicate with OrbxDirect's API, reducing the time it takes to initiate an install.

Additionally, product backups in FTX Central 3 were not obvious and hard to use. This was so they didn't have to be re-downloaded for whatever reason. The whole process for backups has been re-imagined in Orbx Central, which allows products to be backed up quickly and simply:

"When you install an Orbx product, we automatically backup the files to a location you designate (a cheap external backup HDD, for example). Then, if you install that product again in the future, we’ll automatically use the files from the backup without user intervention required at all."

As stated in the screenshot above, the maximum backup size can also be defined, be it 50GB, or 100GB, or any other size. This allows products to be quickly and easily re-installed and also reduces costs for Orbx .

A user's account can now be managed from Orbx Central, with the settings account page shown below:

Finally, the languages of German and French will also be offered in addition to English for the whole application:

Orbx Central en français

A note about add-on packages for Prepar3D was also published. To see the formal announcement and apply to be a beta tester, see the forum thread here.

The application is expected to go live within the coming months.

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