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January 2022 on vAMSYS

George Peppard

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January 2022 on vAMSYS

Welcome to the first of our regular monthly (or thereabouts) updates where we will be describing what has been going on, what we've changed, and what we plan on doing in the coming weeks. This month's update is particularly exiting for us (although probably not for you, the reader!) because we are in the process of taking delivery of two brand new machines which we're migrating the platform onto over the next few months. We've also made some changes to the platform itself - some visible to all our users, some only to our VA staff and owners, and some that aren't visible at all! Grab a cup of tea and some biscuits - let's get into it.

Platform Changes

As promised in our end of year update, we've made several internal changes to the platform over the last few weeks. Most of these are in the name of improving stability, but some are to make preparations for future changes and upgrades. Some highlights include:

  • Changes how we dispatch scheduled and ad-hoc tasks across the platform to improve stability, especially as the number of VAs increases.
  • Changed some details relating to how we generate and cache (remember) statistics data to improve consistency across the platform.
  • Better support for Chinese characters in some places such as events.
  • Added a more prominent note in case there is an issue with a VA's vAMSYS subscription.
  • Removed two factor authentication for the time being - we'll replace it with a much better system in the future when we re-visit that area of the platform.
  • Various typo fixes and language improvements.
  • CSS changes to make the navigation menu float over the map/exporter/importer selectors.
  • Improvements to our back-end central admin panel, to have a better overview of subscriptions.
  • Improvements to the PIREP claim system to make use of new statistics generator.
  • Applications for VAs on vAMSYS will now automatically reject applications which are duplicates of current customers. 
  • Several extensive code consolidation changes.
  • VDS area edits will now correctly hide/unhide and "hub"/"un-hub" an area.
  • Enabling or disabling manual PIREPs in Orwell now functions prototypically.
  • Added 12,339 stands to our stand database.
  • Improvements on how equipment, transponder and PBN codes are sent to SimBrief.
  • Fixed the auto-reject meant to detect in-air refuelling so that it actually detects in-air refuelling.
  • Fixed an issue where in some cases, removal of a stand group was incorrectly propagated across the system (or was not propagated at all).

If you are a member of multiple VAs, you may also notice that we have implemented a new select page. This page takes greater advantage of the screen space available to us to display more VAs, and is an example of the look and feel we are going for with our new user interface elements. Over the coming days, weeks and (hopefully not) months, we will start reworking Orwell (our management panel for VA staff) to use this new design and technology. We hope you like it, and we're happy to hear any feedback either directly by email, via our Discord server, or in the comments below this post.

Upcoming Changes

With the upcoming infrastructure change, we do not want to make any radical code changes which will introduce instability. We will continue to refactor and optimise our code; time permitting, we have our eyes set on a new feature - finally, we hope to start rolling out design changes and related code modifications to Orwell.

Scheduling, importers and tasks

As part of our changes to task dispatching, we made comprehensive changes to our so-called "hierachy" of tasks. Every minute, hundreds (or thousands) of tasks are queued for the automated processing system to run. The system must decide where to route this job, pull in all the data required (in some cases from hundreds of different locations), execute the job itself and handle monitoring and recording of the result, as well as working out whether there are any follow-up jobs required. Tasks run from really minor things like moving single pilots to their destination when they file a PIREP to more major things like generating flight lists, leaderboards, and parsing and scoring any and every PIREP filed on the platform. If you do something and feedback is not instant, it's likely your actions have triggered one (or in many cases, several) automated jobs which the system then needs to prioritise and execute on top of the hundreds more already scheduled for processing by the system or other users.

It is for this reason that we sometimes have to sacrifice performance of one area of the platform in order to make another run faster. In the most recent case, we de-prioritised import and export jobs so that tasks which require more "real-time" feedback (like moving a pilot) can be executed sooner. We never designed imports and exports to be fast or instant - it so happened that in the original implementation this was the case, but this was beginning to take it's toll on other areas of the platform. After we made these changes, some users contacted us to inform us that these tasks were taking a now abnormal amount of time to complete.

In response to feedback, we re-prioritised import and export jobs again and we now feel that the current priority strikes a suitable middle ground between speed and reliability of other areas of the platform.

File Management

We continue to review the many areas of the platform, and are always looking for opportunities to replace or upgrade functionality with a more relevant and intuitive system. The File Manager in Orwell (for VA staff) was implemented quite some time ago, and has seen little to no changes since original implementation. With better ways of accomplishing the same thing now available, we will be retiring the File Manager in Orwell in the coming months. What you should do with files currently in the system depends on what the files are, and what they are for.

  • If the file is a custom stylesheet, we will make provision for you to upload the file directly to the relevant settings page and you will be able to upload the file there instead.
  • If the file is an image for Pages, then we will make provision for you to upload the file directly to Page Management - you will need to upload the file there instead.
  • If the file is a VA resource, then you should use the vAMSYS Community Forums' downloads feature, which is free to all non-trial VAs. Setup is instant and automated, and you can be up and running in minutes. If you have large files, or more complex requirements, then vAMSYS Customer Services will be happy to discuss any custom arrangements for your VA - please get in touch.

We are providing advance notice so you can begin to prepare for this change and incorporate these changes into your VA's ways of working. We're happy to answer any questions either directly by email, or in the comments below.


It wouldn't be a post from me without mentioning infrastructure (besides - apparently now it's my thing?!). This week, we took delivery of one of our two new dedicated servers. Each server boasts an AMD EPYC processor with 48 cores and 96 threads of processing power, 256 GiB of RAM, and 2 TB of high-speed NVMe SSD storage. Hopefully, we'll take delivery of the other ordered server next week We have now taken delivery of our second server(!), so we will begin to work towards a timeline for migration.

Please keep an eye on the usual channels for announcements of downtime so that you can cascade this to your VA, in good time, ahead of any planned maintenance.


Thanks for reading this month's update! I'm interested to hear what you think about the format, style and relevance of content - please let me know in the comments below this post.

Until next month!

George (on behalf of the vAMSYS platform team)

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George Peppard
Systems and Infrastructure Advisor to vAMSYS, ex-Infrastructure Director

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 02/02/2022 at 00:29, Mike Gold said:

Thanks for the update, and congrats on the servers! My only feedback on the new selection page is as follows:



I'm a bit late(!) but I believe this has now been done?


George Peppard
Systems and Infrastructure Advisor to vAMSYS, ex-Infrastructure Director

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  • 2 weeks later...
4 hours ago, Marc Van Loo said:


What's going on with the website? I can login, but then i get an almost blank page. So i can't fly any flights for sky express virtual. This is going on for almost a month now.



We are not aware of any problems with the website - you will need to contact your VA and get them to escalate this up through the appropriate channels.

VAs do not pay vAMSYS for first line pilot support, so we are unable to assist directly.

All the best


George Peppard
Systems and Infrastructure Advisor to vAMSYS, ex-Infrastructure Director

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