I had a chance to catch up with Robin the other day and discuss airports with him.  Here’s the basic road map for airports in X-Plane 10.

In version 9, an airport consisted only of taxiway layout data.  Robin collected and managed a big database of contributed airport taxiway layouts, which are available under GPL and ship with the sim.  WED 1.0 lets you edit these layouts.

In X-plane 10 we now have three categories of airport data:

  1. The taxiway layout – this lives in the apt.dat file.
  2. The ATC taxi layout and flow information.  This also lives in the apt.dat.*
  3. Lego brick building placements.  This lives in an overlay DSF.

Our plan for the version 10 run is to collect all of this data together and redistribute it all, just like we do the current apt.dat file.

We also plan to build a few airport building layouts ourselves, using the existing lego bricks, without custom elements.  This will help us further debug the bricks, get users some more airports quickly, and help us understand the authoring process.  We have some of Tom’s time earmarked for this.

WED 1.2 will support taxi layouts and airport building placement.  Based on my talk with Robin, I believe I will also need to build a more specialized “Send to Robin” export function that pre-checks and packs the submission to streamline the process; since an exported airport will include DSFs and apt.dat files (and should not contain custom OBJs) having the packing be automatic will save everyone a lot of time.

What about autogen buildings?  I don’t know.  We wanted to try this before we shipped and ran out of time.  I think we could autogen buildings for small airports that just have buildings next to the autogen taxiways, but for custom layouts I don’t know that autogen will ever be good enough to make humans happy.

Over the next few weeks I’m hoping to have more time to roll out tools and documentation to move this process forward.  The library is already complete, so the quicker we can get everyone using it, the better.

* If you have an airport layout wihtout taxi layout and flow information, X-Plane automatically generates default flows and layouts.

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.

9 comments on “Collecting Legos (or: the Roadmap For Airports)

  1. The most important aspect for me is the line, that is where the custom scenery integrates into the main default (OSM) world scenery, The JOIN, here is a problem and is were we will have to find a solution and noted is at the point of were OSM ends and the where WED airport layout is situated, in XP10 you get that cutoff road effect, in many cases the OSM will travel through the WED layout, the ideal solution is were both intertwine each other creating a perfect transitional effect, but more care is needed to make sure these areas have the attention required to create a whole, my biggest gripe was in Xp9 was that the airside was perfect, but the terminal side was barren, and in most cases the airport stood out on its own in a prairie landscape.
    so on the autogen situation, if there is plenty of .obj default buildings (LEGO) to fill out the airport immediate surroundings to the point of were the OSM takes over so why would we need autogen?…
    SimonW is trying to do the same thing with OSM2xp urban (City) scenery and it is a challenge, but get it right and one solution for all the effect would be flawless, and make XP a world class sim.

  2. There is one thing, I don’t see being solved (or at least, not described) in your description about airport buildings. How, do we handle the merging of different airport DSF overlays which fall within the same DSF tile (which might happen quite often as I doubt that one user will do all the airports within one tile alone)?

  3. And how about collecting legos bricks from… outside airports? In other words, we also can contribute adding buildings (or correcting them, exist in XP10 yet) in our areas.

    1. Not sure what you mean. If you mean collecting the placement of the bricks, that is what we plan to do. If you mean collecting new art assets, we do _not_ intend to do that.

  4. Hi Ben,

    “I think we could autogen buildings for small airports that just have buildings next to the autogen taxiways, but for custom layouts I don’t know that autogen will ever be good enough to make humans happy.”

    This is one of the best things I have heard as far as the X-Plane future plans.
    In my opinion, auto generation of buildings for small airports is VERY important.
    I do a lot of VFR flying and roads , landmarks and small airports are very important to me.

    On a side not, excellent job with the 3GB memory extension on XP.
    I experience no crashes ( well, very rarely when I am doing something “uncommon”), I can move from any airport to any place and X-Plane is stable.
    I also managed to set up my preferences and I am getting 35-60FPS depending on the area.
    I have custom airports scenery and last night I was taxiing at KJFK with the frame rate 40+FPS.

    It is not on the subject and I do not want to bother you with a personal e-mail but I am happy to see your and other LR team members efforts to make things better.

    Thank you VERY much for your dedication and consistency, X-Plane, thank to you guys, is the best simulator one can get.

    Cheers, Andrzej

    P.S. Merry Christmas and a Happy New year to all LR gang. 🙂

  5. Hi Ben,

    Would draped polygons on the pavement (runway numbers, etc.) be considered ‘custom objects’?
    And would it be possible to a change the appearance of the runway holds that have a black outline? right now they are hard to distinguish from ILS centrelines/black; if the spaces in between the double broken yellow lines of the holds are filled in with black, that ‘problem’ would be over, and they’d look even more like the real thing… but I’ll understand if this is not your top priority right now 😉

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