First, two quick notes on comments: all comments are moderated, so if you post a comment and it doesn’t appear, please don’t repost.  Sometimes Chris and I are both out for a few days, and the comments sit there.  Without moderation, WordPress-based blogs get the hell spammed out of them.  Chris has also turned off commenting on very old posts.  We’ve had a few cases of people digging out old threads to try to jump in to a discussion after the fact, but a lot of what goes onto the blog is time-sensitive – by the time a month is up, a newer post covers the topic in more detail.

Now on to tools: I have posted new release candidates for MeshTool, version 2.0 release candidate 6:

MeshTool has been in a “perpetual release candidate” state for a while.  I think this is partly because we don’t eat our own dog food when it comes to MeshTool – the tool shares a lot of code with our default DSF generator but they’re not the same thing.  Not surprisingly, the MeshTool code that is specific to MeshTool and not used for global scenery is where the bugs crop up.

So my thanks to those MeshTool users who have patiently sent me bug reports and reproduction cases – I’m hoping that this release candidate is final.

What’s Next for MeshTool

I think MeshTool will go in a few different directions over the next year:

  • The scenery tools code is “branched”, with two forks.  The older fork targets X-Plane 9, and the newer one targets X-Plane 10.  I suspect we’ll eventually have to have two MeshTool versions, 2.xx for X-Plane 9 scenery, and 3.xx for X-Plane 10 scenery.*
  • One logical next direction for MeshTool is to add “processing” features. For example, we have code to roughly flatten an airport area – useful when using SRTM data (where concrete runways make false radar returns that turn into tiny hills).  This code could be made available from MeshTool.
  • The other logical direction is to put a real user interface in front of MeshTool.  Just like WED and OE provides graphical ways to place objects (where-as DSF2Text is low level), it would be easier to work with a mesh scenery if you could see your work, and have MeshTool run automatically in the background.

I don’t know what the time frame for future MeshTool work will be; future MeshTool work isn’t necessary to ship X-Plane 10 so it may have to wait a while.

* This is really not ideal, and it is not the way that most other compatibility will work.  Wherever possible, I’m trying to make the tools simply work for both X-Plane 9 and 10 in a single tool.  It’s less code for me, and more useful for you (because when we need two tools for two sim versions, inevitably one of the two tool versions will be less feature-filled than the other).

About Ben Supnik

Ben is a software engineer who works on X-Plane; he spends most of his days drinking coffee and swearing at the computer -- sometimes at the same time.

12 comments on “New Scenery Tools: MeshTool 2.00r6

  1. Hi Ben,

    I think what most of us would like to see is as with OpenStreet Map, a way of easily changing our local terrain to be more accurate and then maybe adding it to a Database. Not even adding any more triangles, just changing the node positions in an easy to see way, which probable means a friendly UI. I for one have stopped working on scenery for this very reason, there are just too many things that need changing/correcting in my local area here in Oz.


  2. “One logical next direction for MeshTool is to add “processing” features. For example, we have code to roughly flatten an airport area – useful when using SRTM data (where concrete runways make false radar returns that turn into tiny hills). This code could be made available from MeshTool.”

    We are definitly waiting for this !!!! at least all people using DEM data from SRTM or elsewhere. The runways are almost always really bumpy and the “flatten function” of X-plane (with the famous “runway follow contour” inactive) is not a really good solution as it flatten a very large and geometrical part of the DEM.

  3. If someone could remove my email address from the above post, that would be helpful. My bad.



  4. Gimmie a GUI !

    Making scenery for the prairies, I often place a building and find it perched on a terrain bump.
    Making scenery in mountainous terrain (Nepal), runway flattening produces absurd results.
    Many small runways have slopes, humps and dips. It would be wonderful to have an easier-to-use tool to get these just right.

    So I’m in full agreement with all the above responders.


  5. > we have code to roughly flatten an airport area

    Is that code already in the scenery tools repository somewhere? I had a quick scan through part of the sources the other day, but haven’t seen anything obvious in that direction.


  6. Thanks Folks,

    As madine says allowing X-Plane to flatten runways can result in a very alien landscape. There are of course times when this could be an interesting idea. Because of the large are flattened it is only a really usable when the area is pretty flat anyway.


  7. We definitely need better tools to control the mesh. Not only runways, but also the terrain mesh under large buildings such as terminals and hangars. Personally I’ve given up designing airports for this very reason!

    I also think the mesh underneath runways needs a sophisticated algorithm to increase the resolution of the mesh to smooth out the slope of the runway. In version 9 you get abrubt changes in slope/angle between two triangles, so it’s almost like if you’re hitting a wall sometimes. And the plane jumps into the air on take off/landing. I really hope this is an area you’re improving with version 10!

    1. My original naive assumption of MT was that users would “condition” their DEM (that is, make it smooth) _before_ sending it to MeshTool. For example, you can open up a 16-bit DEM in an image editing program and apply filters to runway areas. (It seems clear from the comments to this post though that having flattening in MT is of interest to a number of authors.)

      re: X-Plane 10 itself and the bumps, yes, I agree, having a better interpolation than piece-wise linear (with triangles, giving hard creases) would be a win, and allow airports to have higher frequency “data” in the airport mesh without damaging aircraft.

  8. Maybe MT is the wrong tool for the job, I wouldn’t know. What I do know after trying to wrap my head around MT and all things GIS is that it is extremely daunting for an “artist” like myself. Maybe experiened programmers have a better understanding of how to deal with GIS data, but for the average user the barrier is just to big. And then there’s the question of having access to the right tools, not to mention even work on the OS you’re running.

    To have a simpler solution with straightforward GUI would be a huge step in the right direction, for me at least! But then again, maybe there are more powerful tools out there for the job that I just don’t know about yet…

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