Where Did London Go (Linux Testing Needed)

Update: several people have volunteered, and the installers are now tested – thanks!

One of the remaining bugs in 1030: when you install a 1030 update after having received DSF recuts (e.g. the update from 1030b8 to 1030 RC 1)  the Aerosoft custom EGLL pack disappears.

It turns out this is a bug in our installer/updater – the bug has actually been in the installer/updater for a long time but normally didn’t act up (unless you modified your installation in some very unorthodox ways).

I am working on a new rev of the installer (3.22) that will fix this.  But I need Linux volunteers to test, especially the 32-bit edition.  If you can run 32 and 64-bit apps on Linux, please email me (ben at x-plane dot com) and I will set you up with test apps.

There are a few straggling bugs that we’re hoping to fix in RC2 this week.

Update: I totally forgot this announcement for Linux users*: the new 3.22 installers come in 32 and (for the first time) 64-bit flavors.

This means that with X-Plane 10.30 and the new installer, all X-Plane apps come in a 64-bit app, and you don’t have to install multi-arch gunk on your 64-bit Linux install to run X-Plane.

We will continue to support 32-bits on all platforms for the lifetime of X-Plane 10, and the installer, Airfoil-Maker and Plane-Maker will remain 32-bit on Mac/Windows, where 32 bit support is guaranteed without any hassle.

* This is what happens when I sleep even less than normal.  You can only imagine how good these installers must be. :-)

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Posted in Development | 10 Comments

The Gateway Lives

It’s official:

August 28, 2014, Columbia, South Carolina. Laminar Research is pleased to announce the release of its Airport Scenery Gateway, as well as an updated and improved version of its airport scenery tool, World Editor 1.3. The Airport Scenery Gateway can be accessed on the internet at http://gateway.x-plane.com and the new and improved version of World Editor is available for download at http://developer.x-plane.com under Scenery Tools.

The Airport Scenery Gateway was created to facilitate the populating of X-Plane with 3D airport sceneries that are consistent in quality and appearance, error-checked, and will work with a standard installation of X-Plane 10. During the past several months Laminar Research has received hundreds of airports designed by World Editor users. World Editor is an airport scenery creation and editing tool for Laminar’s X-Plane 10 that allows the typical X-Plane user to create airport scenery.

By establishing an internet gateway for scenery submission, it is now possible with World Editor 1.3 for users to automatically submit airport scenery contributions directly to the Airport Scenery Gateway. X-Plane users can visit the Airport Scenery Gateway to search for airport scenery submissions. The scenery can then be immediately downloaded into X-Plane 10 before it appears in a scheduled X-Plane update.

Read more from this press release.

A few notes:

  • If your airport is not already in X-Plane 10.30, please use the Gateway to share it via WED 1.3; do not send it directly to Robin.  At this point Robin should only be getting navaid patches.  You must use WED 1.3 to upload to the Gateway!
  • The airports that are already in 10.30 are uploaded by ‘WEDBot’, which is an account we used to transfer our existing collection into the Gateway.  As users share data, we will start to get good attribution; I think this is important because we will know who to contact to sort out issues with airports.
  • If you could not upload an airport due to a missing ICAO, we are working on this now.
  • We are working on a Linux build of WED 1.3 and will post it as soon as we resolve the chaos of shipping a working app on multiple distributions.  mroe has done great work to make Linux happen.
  • We will periodically ‘roll’ shared airports into X-Plane via point releases to the sim.  I do not recommend collecting a huge pile of Gateway custom scenery packs; they will simply conflict with newer data from X-Plane when it comes out.  The ability to download a pack directly from the Gateway is meant for authors who want to view the state of a pack and possibly modify it.  The gateway is not meant to be a scenery file sharing site.

Finally, I think this has been discussed before, but…custom scenery authors:

Always put exclusion zones around your custom airports!  Even if there are no 3-d buildings at an airport today, they may appear in the next update.

With the Gateway open, 3-d is going to appear quickly!

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Posted in Development, News, Scenery | 22 Comments

I Am Not Really Here

Technically I’m kind of out on paternity leave right now, but a quick update on some, um, stuff!

  • X-Plane 10.30r1 is out.  Honestly, if you don’t know where the bug base and release notes are now, it’s too late.  We’re in RC already!  (I cut this RC about a week later than expected due to said paternity leave above – I’m sorry for the chaos this has caused third party developers who want to ship add-ons requiring the new GPS.)
  • WED 1.3 and the X-Plane Airport Gateway should debut in the next week I think – I’m cutting an RC now.
  • Philipp is working on updating our Oculus Rift support for the new SDK and DK2 dev kits. The SDK for the Rift changed a lot recently, and the docs/sample code are actually out of sync with the SDK, so I’m not sure how soon he’ll be able to tie this up.  We’ll cut a 10.31 with this code as soon as we have it.
  • We will update Steam to 1030 once it goes final.

 

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Posted in News | 46 Comments

Re-recuts and Last Minute bugs

It looks like the next cut of 10.30 will be a release candidate.  I am not sure when we’ll release it, but I am hoping for this weekend.

If you installed 10.30b8 on a full beta, and thus downloaded 500 MB of DSF recuts, I’m afraid to say you’ll end up re-downloading them again for the RC.  A user reported bad edge matching between the recuts and the original tiles for one airport.  The underlying bug is one that could affect any seam between a recut and an original tile, so to be safe I’m recutting the entire recut set with the fixed code.  So…I apologize for the bandwidth hit, but I think better safe and sorry here.

If you do find a last minute bug that you have not reported, please be sure to:

  1. Report it on the bug reporter.  If you haven’t used that page, we don’t know about it.  Blog comments do not count, forum posts do not count, and random emails to people with x-plane.com email addresses do not count!  Don’t send a bug to a place where it will be lost this late in the game!*
  2. Please make sure the bug is complete, with detailed instructions to reproduce it step by step and a way to get the reproduction materials necessary.  This close to RC, we no longer have time to spend a few days going up and back to understand the bug and then realize we don’t even have the payware ACF we need!

There are two features that will ship whenever they ship, e.g. in 1030 if they’re ready, or we’ll cut a 10.31 in a week or two if we have to:

  1. Oculus Rift support.  There is a new SDK for the Rift, and it’s not backward compatible with the old one, so Philipp has some coding to do there.  I think we’re going to enable the Rift as soon as it’s done, but given how few sets are already sold (since they’re just low-res developer previews right now) we’re not going to halt 1030; we’ll cut a quick bug fix release if we need to.
  2. Cylindrical Projection.  Austin reworked cylindrical projection for pro users for 1030; if we find we need to get a few more refinements into the warping code, that may go into a bug fix release too.

My goal is an RC by the weekend, but that’s more of an aspiration than a promise.

* If you like a bug and don’t want it fixed, perhaps emailing me directly or posting it on the forum is the best thing you can do!

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Posted in Development | 36 Comments

X-Plane 10.30 Beta 8 is Here – Authors, Test Your Aircraft!

X-Plane 10.30 beta 8 is now (after 27 hours of syncing!) live – more bug fixes listed here.

Aircraft, scenery and plugin authors: this may be the last beta; if things go well we’ll cut an RC next week.  If you have been ignoring 1030, go get beta 8 immediately! If you have been ignoring your users reports of problems with 1030, please start investigating.

If there is something in your add-on that doesn’t work with 1030, we don’t know about it and we can’t fix what we don’t know about.  Please get this beta and make sure your add-ons work as expected!

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Posted in News | 38 Comments

Some Recut DSFs for X-Plane 10.30

X-Plane 10.30 beta 8 is mirroring to our servers now; this beta contains a pile of recut DSFs, fixing some of the worst DSF bugs.  I will post a complete list of recut DSFs in the release notes; what follows are just a few hilights from really prominent DSFs.

I’m not sure how long the mirror will take to finish; I’m hoping we’ll go live with the beta tonight or tomorrow.

The X-Plane updater will download scenery updates if (and only if) you have the base scenery installed. So if you have the entire world installed, you’ll get the entire set of updates (the DSFs themselves are about 500 MB); if you only have the US, for example, you’ll get some tiles but not others, and if you just have a demo, you’ll just a core file update.

If you install scenery later, simply run the updater again (the install-scenery function gives you a chance to run an update at the end of DVD scenery install) to get any fixed DSFs you might not have gotten at the time.

(Alpilotx had a good suggestion for the installer that I’d like to do in the future: an option to skip scenery updates.  This would let users get a sim update immediately, and then fetch the scenery later if bandwidth is tight.)

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Posted in News, Scenery | 49 Comments

X-Plane 10.30 Beta 7 Is Out – Fixes Scenery Load Issues

X-Plane 10.30 beta 7 (finally) went live this morning.*  More bug fixes made it in, and the bug in the airport library that was stopping so many scenery packs from loading is now fixed.

* The master server was busy doing a backup and thus took forever to push out the beta to the download sites – I actually cut the beta Sunday night.  I ended up pausing the backup temporarily but not until we’d lost a day.

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Posted in News | 29 Comments

X-Plane 10.30 Beta 6 – a Hilights Real

X-Plane 10.30 beta 6 is out; as with the entire 10.30 beta 6 run, complete release notes are here.  The release notes are meant to be a complete reference; what follows is a few of the major things you might notice in beta 6 (if you’ve managed to update).

Frame Rate

Beta 6 fixes a major performance problem from the X-Plane 10 betas.  Beta 6 also sets the cloud graphic settings to match 10.25, so at this point 10.30 should be as fast or faster than 10.25 in all cases.

Airports

We used the X-Plane Airport Gateway to consolidate over 750 airports that users sent to Robin since X-Plane 10.25.  These updates include over 300 new airports and hundreds of updates. You’ll get these lego-brick airports automatically with the update.

I’ll post more about the gateway in a future post, but I believe that at this point WED 1.3 and the gateway are ready to go into beta shortly.

Please do not send any more airport updates to Robin; the gateway will go into beta soon, and we’d like to use it to collect all future changes.  (You can only imagine how much work it was for Robin to gather up 750 airports by hand!  We imported them into the gateway ourselves to test the gateway and get control of the process.)

GPS In the Default Aircraft

With beta 6 we now have the new GPS in the C172, the Kingair, and the Baron; all have the full res GPS in the 3-d cockpit, and the Kingair even gives you dual GPSs.

Still More On the Todo List

There’s still more bugs to fix.  On the top of my list is fixing bugs with the cloud visuals, and with their base height (which sometimes doesn’t match what you set in the weather settings).  I am also working on getting a few majorly borked DSFs fixed in the next beta (Sydney, Rio, etc.).  I’m hoping for another beta by Tuesday, which will also fix the auto update bug.

Where to File Bugs

I say something about filing bugs using the bug report form in every post, and yet readers try to post bugs on the blog.  Since writing “don’t do that” in each post clearly doesn’t work, I’m going to try it using the Swedish Chef translator.

Fur zee lufe-a ooff ell thet is mooppet, pleese-a du nut pust boog repurts tu thees blug. Pleese-a use-a zee boog repurt furm – a furm dedeeceted tu nutheeng boot…boog repurts. Iff yuoo pust a boog repurt tu zee blug, I veell delete-a it. Bork Bork Bork!

So…you have been warned – keep posting bug reports to the blog comments and things will only get sillier.

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Posted in News | 49 Comments

How To Update X-Plane 10.30 Beta 5 to X-Plane 10.30 Beta 6

I just discovered that apparently automatic update is broken in X-Plane 10.30 beta 5.*  If you are participating in the X-Plane 1030 beta program, then when you receive an automatic notification of a newer beta, then installing the beta will fail with an error number 2 or 3 (depending on what OS you are on).

Update: many users are not affected by this problem.  The reason: older auto-updates leave the installer in the right place, so this bug only hits you if you haven’t done a recent, functional auto-update, e.g. from beta 1 to beta 2.  Since my X-System folder was relatively clean (due to my recent C drive face-plant) this bug did hit me.

If you see this bug, here is how you can work around this.

  1. Launch X-Plane.  When X-Plane tells you there is a new beta, click “Get Beta”.
  2. When the installer downloads, click “Update”.
  3. When you hit the error message, click “ok”.
  4. When X-Plane finishes launching, quit.
  5. Go to your Output/preferences folder and locate the installer.  It will have a name “X-Plane 10 Installer.app” on Mac, “X-Plane 10 Installer Windows.exe” on Windows, and “X-Plane 10 Installer Linux” on Linux.
  6. Move the installer out of Output/preferences directly into your X-Plane folder, so that it is next to the X-Plane application.
  7. Re-launch X-Plane.  When X-Plane tells you there is a new beta, click “Get Beta”.
  8. At this point, auto-update will work normally.

A few notes on beta 6 coming shortly…

* There are two things that are particularly annoying about this kind of bug: first, you can’t just get an auto-update to get the bug fix, because auto-update itself is broken, and second, because we didn’t find out that auto-update was broken until shipping beta 6, the bug is still in beta 6, so it’ll take another update to fix it.  However, you will only need to use this ‘fix-it’ procedure once.

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Posted in News | 8 Comments

Fixing X-Plane 10.30 Performance

This week I received my new PC, set it up, and was able to actually look at 10.30 performance problems with AMD hardware on the Catalyst 13-9 drivers.  With the actual “problematic” configuration (and a hard drive that wasn’t barfing up sectors like an infant with reflux) it only took about 15 minutes to find the actual problem.

Which was…face palm…a GL drawing code path that I had disabled during private testing (due to low performance) was actually not disabled at all due to a lack of parenthesis.  So I’m an idiot.

What’s interesting is the relative effects of this code path on multiple platforms.

  • On OS X, this code path runs at pretty much full speed, so having it in the beta didn’t reveal any actual problems.  Hence while my PC was dead, my few attempts to reproduce the reported behavior on my Mac totally failed.
  • The code path is slower on both Nvidia 331.88 drivers and AMD 14-4 drivers.  But…1030′s basic performance is faster than 10.25, so the two canceled out, yielding somewhat reasonable looking fps tests.  That’s why when I asked Philipp to try to reproduce things on an NVidia windows box, he told me things didn’t look broken.
  • On the AMD 13-9 drivers, the code path is absolute death.  I believe that this is where the majority of bug reports were coming from.
  • The actual total performance win from 10.25 to 10.30 appears to be quite a bit bigger on NVidia hardware than AMD hardware. For some reason, one of the modernization changes in 1030 is more important for NV than AMD.  I don’t know what the specific changes that are helping are – the goal of 1030 is to simply use the best code paths we can find.

Here’s an excerpt from my performance testing numbers – this is with fps test 3 with the 747 replay.  The hardware for the test is a GeForce 680 GTX and a Radeon HD 7970.  Expect better fps with the NV card – it’s a generation newer than the AMD card.  Numbers are framerate, probably good +/- 1 fps.

Driver/hw   10.25       10.30b5      10.30b6 (fixed)
NV 331.88   34          34           42
AMD 13-9    28          11           30
AMD 14-4    27          28           29

So you can see here that on better functioning drivers (331.88, 14-4) even with the performance problems of 10.30b5 the net change in framerate from 10.25 was positive. But once I remove the stupid code path, things get a lot better.

That 11 fps in 10.30b5 with 13-9 is the bad code path behaving badly.  That will be fixed in the next beta.

I am hoping that this code path is also responsible for the remaining “low fps in local map” reports, but I haven’t confirmed that yet.

Your Mileage Will Vary

One of the problems with performance testing is that X-Plane’s content varies by add-ons, so how much the problems with 10.30b5 affect you will have a lot to do with which aircraft you fly. This is why some users already thought 10.30 was a win over 10.25 performance wise, and others thought the build was totally unusable.  How much speedup you get will depend on the kind of content you use.

AMD: What Drivers Should I Use

The 14-4 drivers are slightly slower than the 13-9 drivers for either shipping X-Plane 10.25 or 10.30b6 (not yet released).  I believe this represents a fundamental (small) loss of performance with the newer drivers. The loss is actually smaller than it looks if you view the raw fps numbers with fractions, and the precision for the tests isn’t better than 1 fps.

If you can run the 14-4 drivers you should – they fix a bug in sRGB blending with HDR that makes the 13-9 drivers look rather weird with HDR mode.

If you are stuck on the 13-9 drivers because you have old hardware (the oldest GPU the new drivers support is the HD 6000 series – so if you have the HD 5870 or older you need the older drivers) at least 10.30b6 will improve performance.

Clouds Are Their Own Performance Problem

The other big performance problem that I am aware of besides this one is that clouds use a lot more fill rate than they used to.  This is my next bug to try to fix – it is totally separate from this one, and affects all platforms.  My goal is to get the clouds to use the same fill rate as they did in 10.25.  That work isn’t done yet, but at least now I have hardware to work on.

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Posted in Development | 28 Comments