• Developer's Release Tips

    Developer's Release Tips

    If you have never released a file publicly before please carefully read the tips in the sections below.

    Please note: It is never necessary to login first before uploading! Just follow the links here.

    We offer two methods of uploading. Please use whichever one is more convenient for you:

    1) Use our anonymous FTP site: "ftp.trainsim.com".
    Note: You may be able to do this with your browser, though not all browsers can upload using FTP protocol. You can also use Windows Explorer; just enter "ftp://ftp.trainsim.com/incoming" as your drive and folder and it will connect you there, just as if it were any other folder on your own PC. A better way is to use an FTP client; see below.

    2) Upload using just your browser by going to https://www.trainsim.com/vbts/tsupload.php Note: maximum file size is 100 megs for this upload method.

    Please remember: our file library can only accept files whose names have 60 letters or less before the ".zip". Please name your files appropriately! Also please remember that we only accept zip files; no rar files please!

    If you've developed a trainsim add-on that you'd like to share with others you may be wondering what is the best way to do this? We at TrainSim.Com would like to offer some tips to help you do it the right way the first time (and not incidentally make things easier for our file librarian when he deals with your work!).

    First thing to consider is how you want it released, as a paid for product ("shareware"), as something you own the rights to but don't charge for ("freeware") or something you completely and freely give away ("public domain"). Let's define the terms:

    Shareware: Something distributed by the shareware method is a commercial product for which the developer expects to get paid. The developer holds the copyright and all other rights to the product, but allows some form of it (possibly limited in some way) to be freely distributed so that potential customers can evaluate it.

    Freeware: Something designated as freeware is given away at no charge by the designer, however the designer retains the copyright and other rights. In the sim realm some people use the term freeware to also mean that no one may charge for copying, distributing or otherwise making available (i.e., through an online system of some sort); this extension to the actual meaning is contrary to usage outside the sim world and has been the cause of some confusion. A designer, as copyright holder, can include additional terms and conditions beyond those implied by the term "freeware" but should not assume that "freeware" means more than it actually does. For a sample freeware legal notice, click here.

    Copyleft: A distribution concept developed by The GNU Project. Applying a "copyleft" to a release puts it somewhere between freeware and public domain. The legal terms allow the file to be improved on, but the source code must always be available for free. The standard legal notice that must be included provides strong protection for your release, much better than the legal mumbo jumbo that many hobbyists use. For the full details of copyleft visit the General Public License page at www.gnu.org/copyleft/gpl.html.

    Public Domain: For something to be public domain the designer must specifically give up all rights to it and declare that it is public domain. By doing so anyone else can do anything they want with the item so designated. Note that anything you create is automatically given copyright protection, whether you remember to say so or not; it only becomes public domain by specifically saying so.


    Some files are completely new work, developed from scratch. But many people base their work on someone else's earlier development. Repainted rolling stock is a prime example but other improved or modified files are common. If your release is not 100% your own work, consider the following carefully.

    Unless the original developer has specifically given up all rights to his work by declaring it public domain he still owns the work and all rights to it. You cannot use or modify any such item without following the original designer's terms. Some designers include usage terms in the release documentation, but more often than not these terms are unclear so to be safe it would be strongly advised to directly contact the original author before releasing any modified works.

    In freeware, copying other peoples textures, shapes, etc., whether you do or don't hack the internal names, or using even pieces of other peoples bitmaps, or any component without the written permission of the original author is breaking International Copyright Law. Just giving the original author a "Credit" is not sufficient.

    It is never legal to modify and release as your own work anything based on commercial software, whether shareware or store bought. Just don't do it.


    Whatever you release you need to include some documentation with it. How involved the documentation is will generally depend on what it is you're releasing. For example, if you release a route you'll want to include maps or some other form of description of the layout; if releasing rolling stock you'll want to describe how to install it and perhaps what routes or other rolling stock it goes with. These are just examples of course.

    When writing your documentation remember not to assume anything! Your audience does not have your background and skills and may not have the software and other tools that you do. It doesn't hurt to include extra detail, especially on how to install. It also makes sense to make your docs a plain ASCII text file, not a Word or other word processor file (what if the recipient doesn't have the right word processor?). Be careful with file names too...names with special characters (pretty much anything other than letters and numbers) may cause problems when viewed on the Internet (i.e. using our file library's zip file viewer).


    Taking screen shots is easier than most people think--because the function is a standard feature built right into Windows itself. To take a screen shot of the active window all you need to do is hit the Alt key and the Print Screen key simultaneously. An image of the active window is then copied to the clipboard and from there you can paste the image into any program capable of handling graphics--including the Paint program that comes with Windows. Then, just save it as a file and you've got your screen shot.

    Of course, that's just the absolute basics. You really should consider why you are taking a screen shot and how to make it come out looking as good as possible. For a picture that will end up as a tiny thumbnail image you should keep things simple. For example, if you're doing a screen shot of an locomotive put it in front of a very simple background so it really stands out. You also need to consider the same things that photographers do such as where the sun is located. It really makes a difference! You should take your screen shot so the sun is shining directly on the side of the object you are looking at as otherwise you tend to get a dull, gray image instead of a nice bright one. Put some thought and time into it and make your screen shot really look good!


    Ready to release? Here's a checklist to help keep you from forgetting anything:

    1) Obtain all necessary permission(s) for anything you are using based on another designer's work. Don't use other people's work without their permission.
    2) Include complete documentation in an ASCII text file. This way anyone can read the file (and it can also be viewed online at TrainSim.Com using the file library's View function). Don't forget to include your real name and email address (or some other way to contact you). Use ASCII text: anyone can read it, no matter what their system or software.
    3) Write a brief description of the file. You can send us this description in your choice of two ways: either by filling it into the form at the time you upload (only if you use the browser method of uploading) or you can save it as an ASCII text file with the file name FILE_ID.DIZ. This file must be no more than 10 lines long with no more than 45 letters per line. It must not have any formatting, blank lines, or special characters. The first line of the file should be able to stand alone as a single line headline description while the remainder describes the file in more detail. Don't include the file name but do give yourself credit and don't be afraid to go into some detail; you can a say an awful lot in those ten lines. If you need more details on how to create a proper FILE_ID.DIZ description, click here.
    Sample File Description

    This example shows a well thought out and properly written file description, and also happens to be in the exact correct format for a FILE_ID.DIZ:

    MSTS New Haven 40 Foot Single Door Box Car
    34537 repaint. A typical NYNH&H RR box car
    with the older style script logo and a
    Superior 7 foot wide sliding door. Original
    model by Larry Goss and Roger von Ahrens.
    Repainted by Nels Anderson. Public Domain.
    4) Create a screen shot. Where appropriate, TrainSim.Com includes a thumbnail image along with the file description. If you send a suitable picture we'll certainly use it. You can send any screen capture in any file format and we'll reduce it in size and make it fit. If you want to fine tune it yourself the format we use is GIF files and the image is set to 150 pixels wide and whatever height is necessary (though try to limit the vertical height to between 60 and 113 pixels as this looks best). The image should be cropped tightly to eliminate as much unnecessary background as possible and the background should be kept simple and uncluttered. Give the screen shot the same base name as the .zip file (i.e., if your main file is MYFILE.ZIP call your screen shot MYFILE.GIF).

    Sample Thumbnail Image

    Sample thumbnail

    5) Put your files, docs and FILE_ID.DIZ (if you choose to use one) into a .zip file. When naming your .zip file avoid using anything other than letters and numbers. If you're releasing an updated version of a previous release try to include version numbers right in the .zip file name (i.e., MYFILE11.ZIP would be v1.1 and would replace MYFILE10.ZIP).
    6) Unzip your .zip file and test it. Make sure you didn't leave anything out! You don't want to have an email box full of complaints and have to upload an emergency patch to fix things.


    Setting Up WS_FTP

    Click the "New" button to create a new profile.

    In the check boxes, put an "X" in the Anonymous Login box. Do not put an "X" in the other boxes.

    Then fill in:

    Profile Name: TrainSim.Com
    Host Name: ftp.trainsim.com
    Host Type: auto detect
    User ID: anonymous
    Password: your email address
    Account: leave this blank

    Remote Host: /
    Local PC: leave this blank

    Click the "Save" button to save your setup.

    Note: When doing your uploads always use binary mode, never ASCII.

    Tip: If you have problems with "Receive error: Blocking call canceled" messages check the "Use Passive Transfer Mode" option in the Options menu.

    Tip: If you are using a firewall, such as Norton Internet Security, there are firewall settings on your computer that will prevent you from doing ftp uploads. You will need to temporarily disable the firewall while you are uploading.

    When you have everything ready, upload your .zip file (and screen shot if you have one) to the TrainSim.Com anonymous ftp server or use the browser based uploader. If you choose to use FTP your browser may be able to handle uploading using this method, however many people seem to have trouble doing this so we recommend that you use a true ftp client such as WS_FTP (from Ipswitch) or CuteFTP (from GlobalScape). Please note that if you are using a firewall you may have to turn it off in order to upload.

    FTP Uploading Using Netscape

    For many people the easiest way to upload is with Netscape. Connect to the URL ftp://ftp.trainsim.com and then use the Upload File function in the File menu.

    FTP Uploading Using Internet Explorer

    IE version 5.5 and later can do ftp uploads, though this may not be obvious. Connect to ftp://ftp.trainsim.com and and then drag the file you want to upload from your desktop to your browser window ("drag and drop") and the file will upload.

    If your connection to the ftp site is denied, you may need to change your browser settings. Go into the Tools menu, then Internet Options, then Advanced. Look for a setting for "Passive FTP" and turn that setting on.

    Uploading Using An FTP Client

    If you can't upload with your browser you can upload using an FTP client. In that case you should do an anonymous connect (which usually means a separate setting on the ftp client setup and if not requires that you literally use the word "anonymous" as the login name and your email address as the password) to ftp.trainsim.com and then upload there. Make sure to switch to binary mode before starting your upload.

    Common Problems With FTP:

    The most common problem that people have using FTP is a simple failure to follow the instructions. The single biggest problem is entering the host name wrong. The host name must be entered as just ftp.trainsim.com. People frequently make the mistake of adding to this, using things like "ftp://ftp.trainsim.com" or "ftp://ftp.trainsim.com". Those are URL's that will work with a browser, but they will not work as an ftp client host name.

    If you need an FTP client, try FileZilla which you can download here.

    Uploading Using Our Browser Based Uploader

    If your have trouble using FTP you can also use our browser based uploading system. This should work with any standard browser; no add-ons required. Just fill in the form and wait for your upload to complete. To use this system go to https://www.trainsim.com/vbts/tsupload.php

    All done! We'll take it from there and have your file online in a day or so.


    The file you upload is not immediately added to our main file library. For the safety of our users and to catch as many technical and legal problems as possible all files are manually checked first. This means that it will usually be one or two days after you upload before your file appears on our new files lists (may be longer if you upload on a weekend).

    Once a day all uploaded files are removed from the upload area. They are then checked for:

    • File integrity (does the file unzip properly)
    • Presence of a virus
    • Proper description/documentation
    • Legal problems

    If any problems are found the file will be held or deleted. Please note, though, that no testing is perfect and we do not guarantee the safety or usability of files in our library.

    Once our testing is complete the file will be made publicly available in our download library. It will be dated with the day that we added it to the library, not the day you uploaded it or originally created the file.

    [ ASCII Text File How To | FILE_ID.DIZ How To ]