Over the last few months we have been lucky to have Ted Greene working for us as a summer co-op student. You may have seen his commits if you look at the open source WED repository. Ted is heading back to school now, so this post both discusses a little bit of what he accomplished and serves as public recognition of his hard work.
Ted spent the summer working on ‘workflow’ items for WED – that is, things that make WED easier for authors to use. One of the main features he implemented was a new ortho-photo importer.
If you have a GeoTIFF you wanted to use in WED 1.2, the process goes something like this:
- Make an overlay image out of your TIFFs.
- Run the “make orthophoto command” which will create .pol files and place them in the project.
- Delete the original overlay image, which unfortunately looks almost exactly like the POLs in WED.
- Resize the TIFF to a power of 2.
- Grind the TIFF in XGrinder.
- Edit the .pol file in WordPad to use the DDS file.
- Edit the .pol file i WordPad to add LOAD_CENTER (if you remember) – good luck getting all of those numbers right!
- Export your scenery pack.
- Get some astonishing error in X-Plane, because the odds of getting all eight steps right is approximately 0%.
The new process with Ted’s code is much better:
- Import the TIFF files into WED as orthophotos.
- Hit control-B to build your scenery pack.
- Go get a coffee – WED is grinding your TIFFs to DDS for you, which is a time-consuming operation. Don’t worry, it won’t grind them again unless you change the source file.
- Open in X-Plane and enjoy your orthophotos – with correct load-center directives!
No hand-editing pol files, no chance for human error, and of the four steps, two you already do now and one involves beverages. What’s not to like? This screenshot shows the results of importing the TIFF files into WED and the resulting scenery pack.
This level of automation is how all of the scenery tools should work and it’s nice to finally reach a point in WED where we can add this level of convenience.
For The Nerds
WED is an open source project, and this next part only affects users trying to work with the WED source code. (If you are not a programmer, you may want to skip to the next section.) Ted’s finishing the new Orthophoto importer completes the removal of CGAL from WED.
CGAL is an open source library that is critical to the DSF generation code that makes the global scenery. CGAL is also a very complex, heavy-weight library that can be quite finicky about compilers, brings in a lot of dependencies, and is generally hard to work with on Windows.
By dropping CGAL for WED, it makes the WED code significantly more accessible. Ted created a complete MSVC 2010/2012 project for WED, so you can just download MSVC Express, open the project and hit ‘compile’ – all of the libraries are included in the repository in binary form.
(For Mac users, unfortunately we are still stuck on X-Code 3.2/10.6 – to move WED to the modern development tools we will have to purge old APIs that Apple has dropped – just like we did on Desktop.)
We are not dropping the makefile system we use on Linux, and it should even still work on Windows, but finally mingw is no longer a requirement to get started.
Removing CGAL from the project should make a Lion-compatible Mac build possible too at some point.
At this point I expect to do a WED 1.2.1 bug-fix patch relatively soon with a few usability fixes. Ted’s work will go into WED 1.3; I don’t know what the release time frame for 1.3 will be.