Freeware Focus: Toni Agramont
By Andrew Herd (23 October 2007)
Toni Agramont has been developing freeware for so long that FlightSim.Com was only a gleam in Nels' eye when Toni's first package was released, so I am going to confine myself to discussing files I can find in the libraries here - but if you search around, there are more. The first contribution of Toni's I can find in the library here a 970k FS5 scenery of Al Magreb in Morocco (almagreb.zip), which was posted 10th December 1997 and, despite being a large file by the standards of its time (remember, the web had only existed for two years at that stage and most people were still using dial-up), it was downloaded over 2000 times. Al Magreb was followed by an ambitious Algerian scenery in the following June (algeria1.zip), which was designed for FS98 and proved equally popular, which was succeeded by an epic, three meg 'Canary 99' pack (canary99.zip), which provided photoscenery for all seven of the Canary Islands and was downloaded no less than 5000 times - a tremendous amount of interest back in 1998, this addon of course going on to become one of Flight Simulator's all time classic freeware sceneries.
One of the sceneries for which Toni has become best-known appeared in June '99, this being a Balearic scenery (balear99.zip), which was accompanied by another for Catalunya (catal_99.zip). Then, in late June '99, an addon Palma de Mallorca airport appeared (mallorc.zip), this time for FS98 only and developed with Berhard Kulisch (the readme says it was coded by Bernhard with Toni's help, which makes it the first addon compatible with Toni's sceneries, founding the basis of a movement that really gained momentum later on) and this got over 6500 downloads and collected the first developer's award with which Toni has been associated. This was back in the days when any freeware addon scenery worthy of the name meant you had to download all kinds of extra textures, in the case, Vod 2.7 were required, remember those? Before '99 was out, Toni released 'Spain 99' which topped six megs, enhanced all of Spain and Gibraltar and broke the ten thousand download mark by a very comfortable margin (spain99.zip). Even today, few developers can boast that they have produced an addon which is that popular and Toni still managed to squeeze in a Cuban scenery (cuba2000.zip) before the year ended and the new version of Flight Simulator was released.
Few of us remember FS2000 fondly, but its release did mark the beginning of a flood of addons for Flight Simulator and Toni was right at the front of what was to prove a tidal wave of new releases. First off the blocks was Canary2K (canary2k.zip), which was downloaded nearly 6000 times, then came the 4.7 meg Kingdom of Morocco (magreb2k.zip), which was posted before February was out, and then, after a six month delay, Toni released Balear 2K (balear2k.zip), which proved to be his most successful package to date, with over 7600 downloads. Part of the reason for the popularity of the package, apart from the fact that it was so well produced, in common with all of Toni's other packages, was that it covered one of Europe's most sought out holiday destinations, the Balearic Islands, and many simmers must have downloaded the addon to relive their memories of times past.
Like all good developers, Toni has always catered for the faithful and before 2000 was out he had updated his Cuba scenery (cuba2k.zip), following up by doing the same to his Spanish package (span2001.zip), which was released in March 2001, along with a new package covering Portugal (portugal.zip). This pairing proved extremely popular (I remember the excitement of installing them), enhancing as they did so much of the Iberian peninsula and such parts of North Africa as remained in the Spanish sphere of influence. Altogether the two packages were downloaded nearly 15,000 times. The addons covered over 80 airports, but it wasn't long before Toni started to release enhancements, which used the NOVA package and allowed the airports to be illuminated at night - Nova was the brainchild of Rafael Garcia Sanchez, and was a shareware utility which allowed programmers to design 3D objects for Microsoft's Flight Simulator 2000 and the Combat Flight Simulator 2, but the output could be distributed as freeware. Toni gave his Balearic scenery the same treatment (bale2001.zip), before releasing a Madeira addon in June 2001 (madeira1.zip) - Madeira is notable for having one of the most dangerous approaches in the world, coupled with a runway that isn't exactly over-generous in length, and Toni's package gave many simmers their first taste of the unusual curved approach lighting system that incoming traffic follows as it turns onto short final. Somehow, Toni found time on his hands that year to release a scenery of the Cape Verde islands (capverde.zip), enhanced scenery for Bilbao airport in Spain, a very popular Barcelona airport (barcelon.zip) addon (over 5000 downloads, including mine) and more detailed Granada (granada2.zip) and Seville scenery (sevilla.zip) for Spain 2001. By that time it was impossible to ignore Toni's prolific output and we reviewed his Balearics scenery in November 2001. Anyone remember the fantastic Lavigne/Banting/Young Dassault Falcon featured in the screenshots? That was freeware too.
It is no understatement to say that by this stage, Toni had a faithful following, and there was no better demonstration of it than what happened when he posted his first FS2002 scenery, Spain 02 (spscen02.zip), in November 2001. This was released in three parts, which racked up nearly 35,000 downloads between them, an absolutely astonishing total for a scenery addon at that time. Several addon packs followed and by the time the year had rolled over, Toni had updated his Madeira (madeira3.zip) and Portugal sceneries (portug02.zip) to full FS2002 compliance. A FS2002 version of his Cuban scenery (cusc2002.zip) was released in May of that year, followed by a new venture, which was a Jamaican scenery (jam-ta.zip), quickly followed by sceneries for Puerto Rico (prtorico.zip), the Dominican Republic (spaniola.zip), the Virgin islands (virgins.zip) and a slew of Caribbean scenery enhancements. It seemed there was no stopping the man and by December 2002 we had an FS2002 version of his Canary Island scenery (canary03.zip), which once again was heavily targeted and gave FlightSim.Com's server a run for its money. FS2002 compatible updates for the Cape Verde (capevrde.zip) and Balearic sceneries (balear03.zip) followed, along with a new Azores package (azores.zip), and then, in July 2003, came a real blockbuster in the shape of Balear04 (balear04.zip), an 11 meg FS2004 scenery that was downloaded over 18,000 times and took the first developer's award that Toni had been awarded personally. Balear04 is a tremendous package which is still in widespread use and many of us, myself included, are in Toni's debt for putting so much hard work into it.