It has been a while since we last posted. We have been quite busy getting some fun and interesting things done with TFM. The big news: A new user interface! The rest of the blog post will explain.
Upgrading to dotnet 7.0
TFM currently uses dotnet framework 4.8, which is fairly old. The concern is when Microsoft discontinues support for dotnet 4.8, TFM will no longer get security fixes and critical bug fixes in its underlying libraries. Some time after that, TFM may no longer be safe to use from a security standpoint. Considering this, it would benefit us to upgrade TFM to dotnet 7.0. It is the newest .net framework, is more secure, implements current programming practices, and is generally faster than .net 4.8. We recommend anyone who uses or is interested in TFM, install the dotnet 7.0 runtime.
A new user interface
Along with the dotnet 7.0 upgrade, we are switching out TFM’s current user interface elements for new ones. As a result, you will notice a few things.
- We have to back track through TFM and rebuild its UI, so new features are currently on hold.
- The current preview is no longer supported. When we get significant portions of the new TFM done, we will release preview builds as before.
- Portions of the new TFM are the same as the current version, and other portions are significantly different than before.
- Any bugs reported on the official and preview builds are held for historical sake, and won’t be fixed in 23.3 releases. They will be carried over to the new TFM, provided they are present going forward.
Users should see a significant increase in speed, less errors and bugs, and more stability from the new user interface. We are also increasing TFM’s accessibility with assistive technology such as screen readers, braille displays, and magnifiers.
There are limitless possibilities with the new user interface elements we are now using. The below list outlines some new features in the new user interface.
- It is generally faster than the old one.
- If a control has a key command, it can be clearly labeled.
- Generally, we can fix long standing bugs in the old TFM.
- New features are easier to build, and will take less time.
- TFM won’t be as resource intense as the old one.
We aren’t putting any deadline on the conversion. We ask everyone be patient and wait until we say that the new user interface is safe to use.
New TFM features
As already mentioned, TFM can bring you new features with the new dotnet upgrade and user interface rebuild. Here are some of the new features we are working on.
FMC new features
- Faster performance. The new FMC is roughly 3 times faster than the old one.
- Increased refresh rate from 30 seconds to 10 seconds.
- The caret remains at its current location in the display after an auto refresh.
- Includes an indicator that displays the current line select keys in use. A = alternate; d = default.
- Change line select key sets on the fly with CTRL+L while working in the FMC.
- All controls have clearly labeled names and key commands.
- Pressing ENTER now types the scratchpad text into the FMC.
- Pressing the clear button clears the TFM and PMDG scratchpad. When the scratchpad is cleared, TFM announces that it is now clear.
- The font size increases or decreases as the FMC window size changes.
In general, you will see some of the following new features.
- Controls in a window, especially small ones, will resize as the window resizes.
- New controls such as a toggle button. Instead of using the words ‘on’ or ‘off’ for on/off controls, TFM can now use the pressed state of a toggle button to indicate the on/off state of an aircraft switch. An example is auto throttle. If TFM announces ‘auto throttle button pressed,’ it means auto throttle is turned on. Otherwise, it is turned off. This eliminates the old indicators which were bulky and time consuming to use.
- TFM can now indicate the state of an aircraft switch with color. If the switch is on (toggle button pressed), it changes the background color to green and the text on the button to white. This makes it easier for sighted users to spot turned on switches.
There is much more possible than what we can put in a blog post. However, we will keep everyone updated on the current status of the new TFM redesign.
Don’t forget FlightSim expo on June 23-25, 2023. We are presenting on Sunday June 25 at 10:00AM EST. The entire weekend of presentations is streamed live if you register for online access. We hope to see you in person. If not, we will see you online!