With the recent change from the IVAO Software Development Department to become a separate/external organisation “Terminal 2” (referred to as “T2” below), we know there are a lot of questions. Please bear in mind that some things are still subject to discussions and may change, but as of 02-Jun-2017 the following is correct.
What is T2?
It is currently a group of private individuals working together informally with the shared goal of creating next-generation systems and software for flight-simulation use. It is our aim to formalise that into creating a separate legal existence for T2 so that the individual members will be a part of the organisation; at the time of writing the details of that organisation remain to be decided.
Who are T2?
The members of T2 are all currently IVAO users, between us we have over 100 years of IVAO membership. We have all held either IVAO HQ and/or divisional staff positions at some time. Several of us have experience of working with real-world aviation applications. Many, but not all, of us are software developers; we also have members with experience such as project-management, public-relations, human-resources and finance… so we have a wide range of skills needed to support our software development aims.
Why External to IVAO?
Over a period of many years, we have developed software to be used by IVAO users, and anticipate continuing to do so. We have been generous with our time, and incurred significant personal expense in the pursuit of creating the various software. We have tried on multiple occasions to reach a mutually acceptable agreement with IVAO that would allow us to continue the development within IVAO, but we never managed to find terms that were acceptable to everyone. Stumbling points included such items as the provision of support, the assignment of intellectual property rights, or the ability to have a derivative of the software used outside of IVAO. Ultimately we wished to continue the development, and for IVAO members to be able to continue using the software, but the only way to do it was without feeling constrained by the IVAO management structure and demands.
On 20th January 2017, the former IVAO software developers gave their individual personal agreements to allow IVAO to use (free of charge, with no expiry) the software previously developed for IVAO users; this included: IvAc 1.2.4 , IvAp 2.0.2 , FSD b0.6k , IvAi , MTL , HAL
On 17th March 2017, T2 reached a collective agreement with the IVAO Board of Governors. This further provides for IVAO to distribute a future version of IVAC2 at such time as it is ready for beta release (ie. including possible technical defects or incomplete features). IVAC2 automatically downloads the FIR data needed for the ATC position being worked; there are no “sector files” as the data is integrated with the software. It is therefore necessary for T2 to provide the server infrastructure for this data to be created, maintained, and distributed.
This agreement states that T2 must provide IVAO with 12 months notice of intent to withdraw the software, and IVAO must provide T2 with 30 days notice of intent to prevent it from being used by members. The agreement will come to an immediate end in the event of any party attempting to modify or reverse-engineer the software. We can confirm that there is no truth to the various rumours that have been circulating about IVAO being required to pay T2 to develop or use the software: the agreement is clear that the software will be provided by T2 to IVAO completely free-of-charge.
We are aiming to get a beta release of IVAC2 to data-preparation team members as soon as possible. The change to become an external organisation means that we no longer have access to the the IVAO domain (*.sd.ivao.aero), and together with the requirement to have our own test environment it means we need to develop replacements for those systems. At the moment the bulk of our collective efforts is going in to providing a means for IVAO data-preparation team members to be able to upload their data to the new servers.
We anticipate that the server work will be ready before the end of April 2017, and that the various infrastructure will all be in place so that data-prep members can use IVAC2 on the IVAO network either at that time or very shortly afterwards. There may be a further release a few weeks later to fix any show-stopping problems before a public beta release available to all IVAO users, and we expect this to be around the end of May 2017.
(We believe that the above are reasonable and achievable timescales, and we will give our reasonable endeavour to meet or beat them. However we need to note that we are all devoting our free time on an unpaid basis; family and work commitments can change, and unforeseen issues can crop-up with the software or related systems. So we need to stress that the above dates are NOT contractual commitments.)
Update: Work was completed on our servers on 19-Apr-2017, and the data-preparation portal was opened for access on 21-Apr-2017. IVAC2 went live for use by DP members on 24-Apr-2017.
Update: The first public BETA version was released on 02-Jun-2017. It can now be downloaded by any IVAO user from our Software download page.
T2’s aim is to create the software and systems to enable “the next generation” of flight-simulation. The IVAC2 beta is not the end of the story, and we will be continuing development on the software over the coming years. As you may be aware, the core of the IVAO network is the FSD server protocol that was designed more than 20 years ago. Over that time, many changes have been made to the FSD software, and today there is little left of the original FSD code; it is largely backwards compatible with the protocols of the original FSD, but it has changed significantly in order to encompass new features over the years.
However, we have pretty much reached the end-of-the-road in terms of what is technically possible using the now outdated server protocols. In order to add the significant new features that we plan, it will require a completely new server architecture and infrastructure. We have managed to cram in as many features as we could to the current IVAC2 beta version whilst retaining backwards compatibility with older software and systems; however, the fully-featured release of IVAC will need more significant changes to those systems, and that is why the current agreement only covers the IVAC2 beta release as we cannot foresee all the details of those required changes.
IVAP3 is currently in development, but it is currently unclear whether it can be successfully released as a public beta version (in a similar way to IVAC2) or whether it requires more significant infrastructure changes in order to achieve the features that we want to include. At the moment all our time/resources as focussed on IVAC2 so no decisions have been made regarding IVAP and we will post further information when available.
We recognise that HAL is an invaluable aid in training members to use the network effectively, and we know that it is currently significantly out-of-date. IVAC2 beta will not be able to connect to the HAL network, nor will it be able to send commands to the HAL2000 server. It is our plan to create a new piece of software as part of the new server architecture which will be closely integrated to provide HAL-like features. Whilst it is technically possible to update HAL to work alongside the forthcoming IVAC2 beta, it would require extensive time/effort without being able to reap the full benefits which would be possible with the new infrastructure. We are yet to make a final decision and will post further information when available.
There have been many rumours that our failure to reach an agreement to continue development within IVAO was related to commercial applications for the software. To be clear, there are presently no other users of the software, and no money has been received. On the contrary, many of us have individually incurred very significant out-of-pocket expenditure in our pursuit of developing software for IVAO users, including travel, hardware and software for development purposes. We have also committed very large amounts of our personal time that we could have used for commercial projects had we chosen to do so.