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:
- The taxiway layout – this lives in the apt.dat file.
- The ATC taxi layout and flow information. This also lives in the apt.dat.*
- 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.