Change is a part of life and usually it's for the better. We hope you will feel that the changes we've made to FlightSim.Com fit that description.
We've been working quietly on this in the back rooms of FlightSim.Com world headquarters for several years now. We looked at several methods of upgrading the site before finally settling on what you see today. We are using vBulletin software, the same that we've been running the message forums on for some years, but have now expanded to use their CMS system as well.
The main purpose of the change was to modernize the site "back end", the software that makes things work. We have moved from a loosely organized collection of thousands of static web pages to a "Content Management System" or CMS. What this means is that now the entire site is in a database which offers improved ways of organizing, displaying and linking to all the content we create. The overall look of the site has not changed drastically and we hope you'll be comfortable with it almost immediately. But you will see new things, like the ability to comment on articles and news, "widgets" (boxes with content) that link to other parts of the site, related content and more. You'll find now that the site search allows you to search articles, news, forums, etc. all from one place (the file library still has its own separate basic and advanced search, just as before). In the future we'll be able to add things like a mobile version of the site, which we could not have done without upgrading.
Another goal of the change is to make the site more "social". Online social interaction is one of the most popular uses of the Internet (i.e., things like Facebook). FlightSim.Com will now offer more of this sort of function, and this area of the site will grow over time. Your account right now has the ability to host picture galleries and everyone can have their own blog. You can make friends with other users and track their activities.
One of the reasons this upgrade took so long is that we have thousands of articles dating back to 1996. While other sites take shortcuts and only offer their older content as an archive that is inconvenient to use and not truly part of the site any more we felt that the only right way to upgrade was to have all site content, right back to day one, included under the content management system. So, you won't find any "archived" content here, every article is included in the primary site, readable and searchable.
Today we open the site for general use, after a period of open beta testing. Please report any bugs you find and also tell us your overall feelings about the changes we've made. Our initial beta testers have been very pleased with what we've done and we hope you will be too.