In early 2020, back when the coronavirus was little more than a news story out of China, I started work on the project that would become the most popular Virtual Airline system for Infinite Flight. At first it was just a shiny new Crew Center for the VA I was CEO of at the time (VGVA), however as time went on it occurred to me that other VAs could benefit from this system as much as my own.
When lockdown hit in March last year, I decided it was time to start working on this for real. I have a thing with my projects where I try to learn something out of each major project I do. Although initially I wanted to push further my knowledge of PHP – a general purpose scripting language made for the web – I later decided this would be a perfect opportunity to learn a language I’d been eyeing for a while – C# (C Sharp).
I took a crash course on the basics of C# on YouTube then proceeded to learn about Web Development in C# with a similarly useful YouTube series. While it was very messy at first, these 2 playlists got me going on v1 of VANet. It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t fast, but it worked… just.
After a few weeks of most-of-the-time (like full-time, but not) work and a bit of help from Cameron, I had made a pretty good start on the backend system. At that point I decided it was time to start working on the Crew Center itself. I knew I wanted it based on the VGVA Crew Center but not much apart from that. I put out a call in the IFVARB Slack and was very lucky to have Lucas, better known as rebal15, reach out to me. Over the weeks and months that followed he rewrote much of the behind the scenes system from the VGVA Crew Center, and I soon joined in and we both worked pretty tirelessly to get v1 out to the world, then coordinated to post IFC threads at the exact same time for both VANet (the backend system) and Flare (the Crew Center).
Now, 6 months later, I am working on updates to both systems in order to take them into the future. VANet 2 recently came out, reworking the we handle everything on the backend, and next up is Flare 1.3, which will add themes, among other things. Long term, the plan is to merge VANet and Flare to create one unified product and a zero-setup, cloud-hosted, Crew Center.