New X-Plane Beta, new WED Developer Preview

Announcements on the plethora of betas that went up this weekend.

Edit: beta 5 is temporarily offline while we resolve a missing scenery texture.  So you'll get beta 4 if you update.

X-Plane 10.04 beta 5 is now available.  Release notes here.  I think we will be winding down the 10.04 patch in the next week and going on to 10.05.  There are a number of cosmetic bugs that I hope to get fixed shortly; it looks like they'll have to go into 10.05 and not 10.04.

What's the logic behind this patching?  Basically we're going to keep doing small patches until we get a certain set of bugs fixed - bugs that we think are important and that we can fix without tearing the sim to bits.  The patch runs sometimes have to be closed off to burn new DVD masters* (this is the case with 10.04).  In all cases, if you don't want to deal with beta chaos, you can ignore the betas and get a new patch every few weeks with a little more performance and a few more bugs fixed.

I spent some time yesterday retuning cloud performance and the effect of the cloud rendering setting.  Besides trying to find a better performance-quality trade-off point, the old slider had way too much range on it.  It defaulted to 50%, but that 50% point really represented "a good setting for a high end gaming desktop"; going past that would put you into the range of "this isn't ever a good idea, but the engine can do this without crashing".  The side effect was that running at 25% clouds (a very reasonable setting) would feel demoralizing because the setting scale was so vast.

The new scale marks a "100%" point at about where I would put it for high quality if you're just sitting on GPU power (e.g. small screen, nice GPU).  You might still want to turn it down for performance reasons.  The range from 100%-150% is highly experimental land...if you want to turn it up to eleven, we're not going to stop you.

WorldEditor Developer Preview

There is now a binary build of WED 1.2 (download here).  This is a developer preview: WED is still in environment and doesn't meet the criteria for beta software.  Basically: do feel free to poke around with it, but don't use it on your real work.  Don't edit your scenery packs with it - make a copy first.  WED 1.2 has not been tested enough to use for production yet!

The main feature of interest is ATC taxiway editing: WED 1.2 contains complete support for taxiway networks, as well as "flow" information to control the direction of operations.  A number of weird ATC bugs actually stem from the automatically generated taxi layouts that X-Plane produces when the apt.dat layout contains no taxi information.  By providing a custom layout, you can get the AI planes to behave quite a bit better.

* We periodically re-burn the disc 1 master to put the latest sim on it whenever we are preparing new DVD inventory.  If you have an old DVD, please do not panic!  Once the updater is run, the sim looks the same no matter which DVD you have.

  • Facebook
  • Reddit
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn

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.
This entry was posted in Air Traffic Control, Development, News, Scenery, Tools. Bookmark the permalink.

51 Responses to New X-Plane Beta, new WED Developer Preview

  1. Bo says:

    Good work! When can we expect to see some preliminary documentation of the new WED features?

    • Ben Supnik says:

      Totally unknown at this time. We don't even have a manual for WED 1.1 right now.

      • Bo says:

        We need just a little something to tell us what how it works. I have figured out a fair deal myself, but there are some parameters for the routing segments that needs explaining. Same for the flow definitions. Or else be prepared to be peppered with questions 🙂

      • Robin Peel says:

        I have almost completed the addition of the new apt.dat data elements to my database and to my data import and export processes. For example, the revised traffic flows in the latest KSEA custom apt.dat were created directly in my database. Once this work is complete I'll document a file spec for the 1000 apt.dat version. After Ben, Chris and I agree on that spec we can publish it - this should make the feature set of WED 1.2 much clearer.

        - Robin

        • Ben Supnik says:

          Right - the eventual goal will be a clean spec, Robin's database in sync so that he can collect apt.dat 1000, complete editing in WED, and WED having the ability to export data to send to Robin, to automate the process for everyone!

  2. 1. Any update on the ATI/Windows performance issues?

    2. A blog post on the tradeoffs of HDR mode (performance and rendering quality) would be kind of neat. I'm personally on the fence regarding which is better. Curious on your insights as to how to decide if HDR mode is right for you.

  3. vonhinx says:

    10.04b4 was pretty good with 5% clouds, although cirri was all but lost at that setting. In-cloud with HDR on made the plane disappear in external view but not quite. The wingtips were showing through at some angles where they were nearer the viewpoint. The effect, whether intentional or not, missed glass objects. Don't know enough about it yet to figure what/why it's happening.

    Kudos for the pace of updates. Don't burn yourselves out now….

  4. Don says:

    Can I assume that a 5870 running at 1920 x 1080 is not "sitting on GPU power"?

  5. Mr. Will says:

    Is the ATI bugs still in effect of can i turn my clouds and cars back on some?

  6. Manuel says:

    Does the WED 1.2 Developer Preview support the v10 lego brick stuff like creating airport terminal buildings from a given shape (if I understood that correctly from your blog posts) already?

  7. Flightime56 says:

    This means?

    {@Y}{^l}A{^r}{@L}A7{@Y}B7{^u}

    Any brief ATC starter notes? I can't seem to start (or see) any of Chris's ATC layouts...

    And yes I have reread the blog entry.

    • Cormac says:

      {@Y}{^l}A{^r}{@L}A7{@Y}B7{^u} defines a taxiway sign (its not a new feature and not part of the ATC data). This example has three panels from left to right:
      - {@Y}{^l}A{^r} is a direction panel (black on yellow) indicating taxiway 'A' between left and right arrows;
      - {@L}A7 is a location panel (yellow on black) indicating you are on taxiway 'A7';
      - {@Y}B7{^u} is a direction panel indicating taxiway 'B7' and an up arrow.

      The taxiway sign syntax is described at the end of the apt.dat 850 spec:PDF and there is also a section in the WED manual on it.

      To see an ATC layout and flow, open the KSEA Demo package (not the terrain one). Just poke around for now, don't export anything!

    • Robin Peel says:

      The codes for taxiways signs are defined on my website.:

      http://data.x-plane.com/

      Specifically, the apt.dat file spec is here:

      http://data.x-plane.com/file_specs/XP%20APT850%20Spec.pdf

      - Robin

  8. Am i the only one who loves the fact that you guys addressed icing? I cant wait to check it out. One of the biggest follies from XP9 was the icing. Just never happened, or happened to much. Was to linear for my taste.

    Thanks for doing that guys, and keep up the great work. You guys really pound out these betas fast and full of cool things.

  9. Pingback: Attention … X-Plane 10.04 beta available | Aerosoft Sim News

  10. Chris Strosser says:

    I just wanted to say that I am appreciative of the way in which you release updates. At our shop, we use an offshoot of Agile/Scrum with two to three week sprints, meaning new features and minor fixes every two to three weeks. We find that this keeps users much happier! In this case, I'm not the developer, but the user, and I'm glad to be the beneficiary of a shorter release cycle.

    Keep up the hard work.

    Thanks,
    Chris

  11. Vlad says:

    I've read WED1.1 manual and it talks nothing on how to put a custom obj to my scenery. Are there plans to apply that option next release?

  12. NenJan says:

    Hello Ben & Co.

    First of all thank you for the nice work you are doing with the XP10.
    I am really happy with the progress and the quality of the XP10.
    However, I have one question regarding clouds control. In the early versions of the XP10 we had possibility to adjust the cloud puffs size, transparency and the number of cloud puffs. I could tweak clouds settings for my needs. (i.e. quality(eye candy) vs. performance)) and I was really happy with the results.
    Now, with 10.04 beta XX, cumulus clouds look more like pop-corn clouds and the performance is not improved significantly.
    Is there any hope that we might get these settings options back?

    Bets regards,
    Nenad J.

    • Ben Supnik says:

      The settings are not coming back.

      There are art controls - if you want to tweak the clouds, get DataRefEditor and change _every_ aspect of the clouds. If you find something you think is better than our tuning, shoot us an email!

      Re: perf, do you have an ATI windows card?

      • vonhinx says:

        Yeah, I looked all over for something that would increase the range of puff sizes as I thought they were too consistent. No joy so far but it was an interesting exercise. Alternatively, an interesting algo to explore would be to increase a puff size depending on its count of attached neighbors, say 50~150%. Otherwise, it was all pretty good at the low count level.

        I'm puffed that you guys made the minimum setting 10% and a number of parameters tweakable on the fly. Anyway, great update, thanks.

        • Ben Supnik says:

          The puff size consistency was a performance trade-off. It turns out that when the puffs radically vary in size, you have to make ALL the puffs a whole lot bigger to guarantee that you get appropriate coverage. This in turn costs a huge amount of over-draw, which kills fps.

          When we have more time to tune we can probably get clever about tactically deploying variable puff size, but for 10.04 my goal is something that looks okay and runs without burying your machine.

      • NenJan says:

        Thank you Ben for your ansver!
        I will give a DataRefEditor a try. If I find something interesting you will get an email.

        I have GTX580 1,5Gb.

  13. darkrav says:

    Just letting you know, the 10.06 Beta is a huge improvement! The clouds work much much better set to 55%. With cumulus overcast the fps is like 30(compared to about 20-21 before) 1920x1080 with extreme res, 4xAA, HDR off, object set to insane. The hardware is C2Quad 2,66, 8gb ram on win7 64bit and GTX560 1024. Keep up the good work! Starting to love XP10 more and more.

  14. Rhard says:

    Comparing to OverlayEditor WED can't do only 2 things:
    1. show a 3D view with terrrain elevation.
    2. show 3D "previews" of objects before place them.
    Do you plan to add this features in the future releases?

    • Ben Supnik says:

      No - I have no intention to put any kind of 3-d directly into WED.

      Other developers have looked at integrating 3-d editing _in_ X-Plane with WED via local network, so that X-Plane provides previews.

      When it comes to 3-d: WED is a CAD program, not a 3-d design studio, and it is well beyond WED's scope to change that. Better would be more comprehensive "whole scene" exporters for existing 3-d modeling programs.

  15. chris says:

    agreed, I really like the improvements made and fast update cycles. really glad to see water shaders being worked on and continue to improve in cloud flight appearance from inside the clouds so the plane does not fully disappear. this latest beta is great !

  16. Cormac says:

    Hi,
    Had a good poke around WED 1.2dp1 last night with the KSEA layout loaded. I think I have figured out most of the ATC stuff but one thing I didn't get was the 'split' attribute. Any hints?

    • Ben Supnik says:

      Split shouldn't be visible - please file a bug on that. It's internal state to make the control handles work right.

      • Bo says:

        I have found that the segments don't always split unless you tick the "split" checkbox. As soon as I'll be able to consistently reproduce it I'll file a bug report 🙂

        • Ben Supnik says:

          The expected behavior is:
          - Drag a bezier, and its opposite side moves to produce a smooth curve.
          - Option-drag and it "splits", with only one side moving, and the other side staying in place.
          That's the theory, at least.

    • Barry Loveland says:

      Cormac,
      Please share your notes! I know Ben and Robin will eventually fill us in on ATC how to's, but I'd sure love for you to post your cliff notes here or on x-plane.org's forum. There is a thread on this here:
      Thanks!

  17. Larry says:

    I guess I am going to need an NVIDIA card I was running 30 to 35 FPS before I updated and now am down to 20 to 25 . Those smart people at NVIDIA sure know how to to kill the competition . I guess we will be seeing NVIDIA the way its ment to be played at start up soon

    • Larry says:

      I may have been a little hard on 10.04 beta 5 I was running with no Clouds and HDR on but after updating my FPS dropped severely . Im not to sure why but after I turned off HDR and cut the visibility back to about 16 miles . I am now able to run an average of 30fps with thick cirrus clouds and thats with turning up a couple of settings .

      Larry

  18. David M says:

    Nice job with Beta 6 - the frame rates are a massive improvement on my GTX260 - so much so that I can fly the x737 with 100% clouds and frame rates are much higher - and the clouds look good too.

    ATC improvements are nice too - it is slowly getting there. Nice to have the runway told to me on approach (so I can dial in the correct ILS), nice to have altimeter provided too and use of standard pressure at flight levels is much better now.

    Still like to see better way to handle "of course" - especially when taking off in the opposite direction to the flight plan and would like more time ( a lot more time) between being issued an instruction and then ATC repeating it - I barely have time to dial in the changes and execute them.

    But as I say - nice beta guys - thanks and great work.

  19. I really would like to commend you guys on the job well done regarding the weather systems. Last night, at flight level 310, i accidently flew into a thunderstorm. It had lightning and all. This is something i never experienced before in XP, and boy was it an experience for sure. It was actually the top of a very bad ice storm that was near the Reno area last night.
    Now the question is, do you have on your list of things to do, a weather radar implementation that works with the weather system? I haven't checked the one that is on the default MFD, but if there was a standalone weather radar that would be awesome. would be even better if there was a way to see the output but control the look and feel from a plugin.
    In anyway, i will definitely be checking the weather from now on before i pick a route. 🙂
    Thanks!

    • David says:

      Hi Jack - try flying the x737 - it displays weather on the EFIS (if you have Wx turned on). I flew from CYLW to CYEG and saw green and red in my flight path - boy, was that an experience - I hit the selt belt sign just before entering the green - we got tossed around quite a bit, and we saw lightening.

      I paused the sim, and checked the real world weather forecast and sure enough, there was a thunderstorm cell in that area.

      It would have been nice to ask ATC for a detour around the storm cell, but I'm sure that's coming one day.

  20. Vlad says:

    As for me, I choose XP10 for providing new look on the world simulation (global lighting, bump mapping, etc.) so its obvious the desire to use that eye-candy stuff in my custom scenery. Unfortunately some options are not available in the WED (but are very desirable). The problem is that I can use custom textures & normal maps to make an obj but can't do the same to make a realistic runway.
    So I would like to post here my short “wish list“of stuff to add to the WED:
    1) New runway & taxiway property “Resource” to choose custom texture;
    2) New runway & taxiway property “Normal map” to choose custom normal map;
    Is it possible to embed these to the future WED release?
    Best regards!

    • Ben Supnik says:

      This is definitely NOT going to happen! But here is what you can do: use a custom .pol or obj file!

      In other words, the goal was _never_ to make the apt.dat file extensible or some kind of modeling file...apt.dat is not at all a modeling format and it would be a true nightmarish disaster to try to allow textures. (Think of it: once we need textures then perhaps ATTRibutes, UV coordinates, and before we know it, every aspect of OBJs is in apt.dat too.)

      But what we have done is made sure that _every_ trick of the apt.dat file can be done in an overlay, and WED can edit those overlays! So when you are ready for a more advanced look, you can simply move over from the "pre-made" primitives of the apt.dat file to the "lego bricks" of an overlay.

      And in X-Plane 10, normal maps are available in _every_ art asset type, including draped .pol files and OBJs.

      • Vlad says:

        Thanks, I’ll play with pols.
        There is another issue. Some community guys tried to find LIGHT_PARAM description to direct custom light sources, but nothing more than guesswork as a result (so am I). Could you please post somewhere LIGHT_PARAM parameters description (maybe in the “File Format Specifications” section)?

  21. Giacer says:

    Hi,
    with X-Plane 10 the boundary seems to haven't effect on the ground, using sloped rwy ON or OFF, tried with WED 1..b4 or WED1.2.
    Any idea? will be fixed?

    • Ben Supnik says:

      The boundary is _not_ a visual effect! I think this is explained in more detail in past blog articles ...

      • Nicos says:

        AFAIR, some article mentions that the boundary would be filled in with "airport grass".

        It might also make sense to just add an optional visual demarcation effect like a fence.

        Anyway, I'd be far more interested in a relatively easy way to filter/flatten terrain for an airport. I've been looking at EDRZ (ZQW) which is right around the corner, and I'd like to play around with it, but the terrain just doesn't allow it. You mentioned in some other post that you had basic functionality for that kind of auto-smoothing.

        I'd love a tool that receives an apt.dat file, possibly a list of airport codes, and which then spits out processed terrain tiles based on the boundary and the runways (potentially keeping runway terrain intact in the process, that seems to be fine). That would, in my opinion, vastly lower the threshhold for people to churn out credible regional airports, and maybe even give rise to some functional autogen tools.

  22. Tom Curtis says:

    Is Terreserver working in WED 1.2? I havent been able to get it to connect with the server for Several past versions of 1.1 and now 1.2 .

    I've checked the forum and msgs but can't find any reference to it not working. Just curious.

    • Ben Supnik says:

      Probably not - it's broken more often than it works. I need to find something better. You can of course use GeoTIFFs or any local imagery as a background.

Comments are closed.