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Any chance P3D changes its installation model?

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Posted (edited)

Hi all,

I'm curious what you think about it. Is there any chance that P3D will change its installation model in the future? This is one of my biggest wishes for the platform. I mean, all folders located under a single directory just like X-Plane or DCS. MSFS has also a more organized structure for addons though I think its not totally independent from the Windows C drive. Recently coming from a full Windows reinstall I realized how big of a hassle is to reinstall everything I have for P3D. The change P3D brought from FSX to install add-ons in other than the sim locations, is useful for P3D reinstalls but still to my eyes, P3D installation path is very messy.

If I'm not forgetting any, P3D and its add-ons are using besides the main installation directory, also the following directories to install components as well as registry entries:

C:\Users\UserName\AppData\Local
C:\Users\UserName\AppData\Roaming
C:\ProgramData
C:\Users\UserName\Documents

I am not a software developer but to me it doesn't make sense why all these directories couldn't be under one?

Maybe if we could raise enough our voice LM could look into it for the future versions of P3D. What do you think? Is it possible and would you prefer it?

Edited by ComSimPilot

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Posted (edited)
14 minutes ago, ComSimPilot said:

Hi all,

I'm curious what you think about it. Is there any chance that P3D will change its installation model in the future? This is one of my biggest wishes for the platform. I mean, all folders located under a single directory just like X-Plane or DCS. MSFS has also a more organized structure for addons though I think its not totally independent from the Windows C drive. Recently coming from a full Windows reinstall I realized how big of a hassle is to reinstall everything I have for P3D. The change P3D brought from FSX to install add-ons in other than the sim locations, is useful for P3D reinstalls but still to my eyes, P3D installation path is very messy.

If I'm not forgetting any, P3D and its add-ons are using besides the main installation directory, also the following directories to install components as well as registry entries:

C:\Users\UserName\AppData\Local
C:\Users\UserName\AppData\Roaming
C:\ProgramData
C:\Users\UserName\Documents

I am not a software developer but to me it doesn't make sense why all these directories couldn't be under one?

Maybe if we could raise enough our voice LM could look into it for the future versions of P3D. What do you think? Is it possible and would you prefer it?

I’d love that. It’s pretty messy at the moment. But they KIND of did - with v5, the requirements were changed for devs to install under Documents\Prepar3D v 5 Addons...

 

Problem is.... Very few developers have switched their installers. The only ones I can think of are Aerosoft, RXP, ActiveSky... Most aircraft still live wherever they feel. 
 

So that wasn’t a hard requirement, but more of a recommendation. And we all know how those go. 😉 Devs need to be told “in order for your stuff to run, it now MUST live in this folder”... Otherwise no one will follow it. 

Edited by BostonJeremy77
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I like the current structure.  MSFS is the one I don't like.  Sure it's simple.  But what happens if you want to save scenery on other drives?

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2 minutes ago, micstatic said:

I like the current structure.  MSFS is the one I don't like.  Sure it's simple.  But what happens if you want to save scenery on other drives?

Ah. Didn’t think of that. Because my scenery IS being saved to another drive - Orbx library sits there and it’s on an external drive which contains everything Orbx for both P3D and MSFS.

 

Similar technique though can be used without Orbx. You can put your scenery wherever you want and simply place shortcut to that dir into Community folder like Orbx does.

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Posted (edited)
5 minutes ago, micstatic said:

I like the current structure.  MSFS is the one I don't like.  Sure it's simple.  But what happens if you want to save scenery on other drives?

For MSFS, there's a freeware add-on linker software tool that creates symbolic links to the community folder.

Similar to P3D's add-on.xml method, you can install wherever you like and link only the add-ons you want to have active.

I much prefer MSFS' one or two folder(s) method over P3D's several 'wherever the hell a developer feels like putting it' way of installing.

 

Edited by F737NG
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thanks @F737NG didn't know that.  I'll have to get that.  I also love using lorbys add on xml with p3d.  But yes it's not as simple as msfs. 


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1 hour ago, ComSimPilot said:

Hi all,

I'm curious what you think about it. Is there any chance that P3D will change its installation model in the future? This is one of my biggest wishes for the platform. I mean, all folders located under a single directory just like X-Plane or DCS. MSFS has also a more organized structure for addons though I think its not totally independent from the Windows C drive. Recently coming from a full Windows reinstall I realized how big of a hassle is to reinstall everything I have for P3D. The change P3D brought from FSX to install add-ons in other than the sim locations, is useful for P3D reinstalls but still to my eyes, P3D installation path is very messy.

If I'm not forgetting any, P3D and its add-ons are using besides the main installation directory, also the following directories to install components as well as registry entries:

C:\Users\UserName\AppData\Local
C:\Users\UserName\AppData\Roaming
C:\ProgramData
C:\Users\UserName\Documents

I am not a software developer but to me it doesn't make sense why all these directories couldn't be under one?

Maybe if we could raise enough our voice LM could look into it for the future versions of P3D. What do you think? Is it possible and would you prefer it?

I think the move to take add-ons out from installing into the P3D main folder (as they used to do in FSX) is a huge improvement and I absolutely would not want to see them go back. What I do want to see is add-on developers following the new model (I say new, the add-on.xml-based model has been around for years now). Of course, plenty of developers put their add-on.xml in a folder in Documents as per the spec but then put the actual files wherever they like (because the add-on.xml can contain the absolute path of each element of the add-on). I'm less of a fan of that.

It wouldn't be rocket science to create a tool that will back up (and restore) all the files from all add-ons registered via the add-ons.xml method. Perhaps someone has already done it. Then you wouldn't have to run all those installers again when you flatten your machine. And you can completely erase all trace of P3D from a machine if you need to (without reformatting the box itself) and leave the add-ons in place so when you re-install P3D it just picks up all your add-ons again. In principle, it's a great system. In practice, developers take short cuts. 

There's a good reason for having multiple config files in AppData and ProgramData (and for some files being in Local and some in Roaming) which is to do with how the Windows user profile system works. Specifically, you can install a program for all users or just one. P3D installs core data for all users in ProgramData and then user-specific data in each user's AppData, so different users can have different P3D settings, add-ons etc. Granted, very few people actually use that. But you have to do it that way to be properly Win10 compliant.

I am a software developer, BTW 🙂 Most other apps and programs on Windows and other platforms do things this way. The days of 'everything in one folder' are pretty much gone, they were a legacy of single-user OSes like DOS. And they never really existed on other platforms (*nix, MacOS etc).

If you had everything back in one place then there would be one set of settings for everyone, and all your add-ons would be intermingled with your P3D folders and you'd have to nuke the whole lot every time you want to re-install. No thanks!

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6 hours ago, neilhewitt said:

It wouldn't be rocket science to create a tool that will back up (and restore) all the files from all add-ons registered via the add-ons.xml method. Perhaps someone has already done it. Then you wouldn't have to run all those installers again when you flatten your machine. And you can completely erase all trace of P3D from a machine if you need to (without reformatting the box itself) and leave the add-ons in place so when you re-install P3D it just picks up all your add-ons again. In principle, it's a great system. In practice, developers take short cuts. 

Freeware Lorby's P3D Addon Organizer and payware, SIMstarter NG P3D.

Lorby's PAO covers a lot, with my limited experience, but Simstarter just has so much more.

Only issue with SIMstarter for most is the learning curve to use the software. Once you get used to it though, all these lengthy full-reinstalls on the same hardware are so simple.

 

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16 hours ago, F737NG said:

much prefer MSFS' one or two folder(s) method over P3D's several 'wherever the hell a developer feels like putting it' way of installing.

Really ? Did you install MSFS ? It is far more complex than P3D. Just for fun, try locating the actual exe file to start MSFS - good luck !

 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, willy647 said:

Really ? Did you install MSFS ? It is far more complex than P3D. Just for fun, try locating the actual exe file to start MSFS - good luck !

Yes, really.

When it comes to add-ons, MSFS is far easier to control.

No files in the main core folder structure like P3D's /scenery/world/scenery folder for ALT files, no texture, sounds or effects files needing to be placed in the core folders either.

Using Lorby's P4AO tool, I can use .xml method in P3D to control where every add-on is placed. However, I have to search for where 3PD installers originally place the files before I move them.

MSFS is all self-contained in the Community Folder. I only use the 'addon linker' tool to turn on add-ons I want to use in the current session.

 

Edited by F737NG

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6 hours ago, willy647 said:

Really ? Did you install MSFS ? It is far more complex than P3D. Just for fun, try locating the actual exe file to start MSFS - good luck !

 

That only happens on the Microsoft store version. It's elementary easy to locate everything on the Steam version. 

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23 hours ago, F737NG said:

No files in the main core folder structure like P3D's /scenery/world/scenery folder for ALT files, no texture, sounds or effects files needing to be placed in the core folders either.

This can - and to my knowledge should - be done in P3D as well. Unfortunately, not all developers adhere to the “new“ (it's been around since what, V3?) add-on activation method.


Best regards, Dimitrios

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58 minutes ago, d.tsakiris said:

This can - and to my knowledge should - be done in P3D as well. Unfortunately, not all developers adhere to the “new“ (it's been around since what, V3?) add-on activation method.

Exactly.

I'd love a P3D add-on installation to be as simple as an MSFS one, but there are just so many steps to reorganise poorly-structured installs by a lot of developers.


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Posted (edited)

Wait till you have to do a full re-install of MSFS after a couple of years then ask the same question, more Devs are moving to ORBX market place which I like you can have your ORBX Folder anywhere you like on the PC that suit you.

I did a full re-install of MSFS and still had to download the UK update after on a 200+mbts broadband cable and still took some time, I could have done a full P3Dv5.1 install in half the time and installed all my addons with addon organizer.   

There are some MSFS users when a big update comes they have to leave it installing overnight, 2 years from now it could take them days to do a full install.

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Edited by G-RFRY
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I don't like the way either P3D or MSFS set their directory structures.  I also understand that Lockheed probably won't convince MS to change the standard.  So my 2 cents is if there was a 1-2 page cheat sheet that showed the structure and where everything goes that would help out quite a bit when trying to find a cfg or xml file.

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