Recently I’ve had the time to download routes which I missed to try while concentrating on work and I was quite upset with the way routes are distributed. You usually have to download several archives and then extract all those archives to some fancy folders. Of course, I know their names exactly. But do newbies know?
I provide my routes as a single archive but all around the world it is typical to split them into three: objects, routes, sounds. This causes extra work for the developer, because he has to do the job three times. Forget the developer, though, he knows his way around this. Consider the user. A newbie, for instance. Most certainly, it is extra work for them. And all the three archives go into different folders which the newbie shouldn’t even necessarily have to know about.
So, I started a thread on the BVE Worldwide forum with this question – what is the best way to distribute routes. I definitely think there should be no more than one archive for smaller routes. It should contain the Railway folder, which the user would just have to drag onto his already existing Railway folder. Much easier than digging in the folder structure three times.
Can we do even more? Maybe. Had Michelle wanted OpenBVE routes to have a specific place on computers, we could use Windows installers to set up routes. But would it be still possible to do this? I think, yes, even if we don’t know the location of the user’s routes. Let’s ask the user to browse to his Railway folder in the installer. The user should be able to find it because he often copies routes into it. And once the installer knows the location of the Railway folder, it knows everything it needs, and will install everything in the right place. Look at this screenshot, I tried to create a brief explanation in the installer:
It’s important to leave the path field blank in the installer because that prevents the user from accidentally installing the route somewhere he didn’t want to. This way the route won’t be installed unless the user browses to his Railway folder. The tool I created this test installer is an excellent and very simple one, Clickteam’s Install Creator. It is free, but comes with a textual ad page at the end of installation. If you pay for it, you won’t get the ad page of course.
Such installers may not be a bad idea to help route and train installation, in case of trains you would of course want the user to point to the Train folder. You can add two simple images about your addon to installers and if you wish to, you can present your readme file to the user after installation.
In this case there is a button to open the readme, but you can set it up to open it automatically.
Providing an archive is a must though, as such installers only run on Windows and not on Linux or Mac.
So it’s a good question if we should use installers or not, but what’s for sure is that routes should be easier to install than they are today.
What do you think? Here’s a comment section below for your opinions!