Our v0.0.10-alpha release introduces the Planetarium as a Progressive Web App, or PWA. What is a PWA? You can read about it here. For the Planetarium, it means: Faster revisits due to better browser caching. The option to install the app from the web page, which will give you an app shortcut, super fast start time, and automatic updates. Easier app distribution — it’s just a url link! And much less bandwidth required from our web server.
If you’re on a desktop or laptop, give it a try! (Sorry, we’re not quite ready for mobile devices yet.) Just click the link:
Our underlying Godot Engine introduced PWA functionality in November. It isn’t quite yet working as it should in official Godot releases. But, as usual, Godot devs are awesome and came through for us. With a custom Godot build we have a PWA! Thanks especially to Fabio Alessandrelli (Faless) for making this feature happen!
About installation: It’s easy to miss if you didn’t already know about PWAs. It works a little differently on different browsers, but on Chrome you will see an ‘Install’ icon in the URL bar. (Not immediately. It appears a little while after the app has already started.) Once installed, you will have app shortcuts on your desktop and start menu (or wherever these things go in your operating system). You can now start the app in near-instant time! It works without internet. It’ll update itself quietly in the background when we post a new version. It’s also quite easy to uninstall if you need to do so.
The benefit for us is that our web server doesn’t have to serve you many MBs of data each time you use the app. This was a bit of worry for us if we ever got popular. Hopefully we are ready for a little publicity and wider use now…
Have fun using the Planetarium! And please do distribute the link above to your friends!
In other news, our Downloads page changed to Developers. We don’t have downloads any more. The Developers page is more focused and hopefully more helpful for developers who might want to contribute to the Planetarium or to build their own projects using I, Voyager.
Also, in late November early December our Forum was invaded by more than a thousand bots. But we fought them off successfully! All is well now so please do sign up on our Forum! Due to higher security settings, however, new registrants will be asked an astronomy question. Here is the answer so you are ready…