WorldEditor 1.4 is almost ready for beta, and among its new features (there are several big ones) one is very important to the X-Plane Airport Gateway:
- WED 1.4 can browse airports on the gateway and download scenery packs directly into the WED workspace.
“Direct download” is really important for a few reasons, some of which might not be obvious:
- It saves time. Getting a gateway airport, even if you just want to look at it, is much faster when you don’t have to download the scenery pack, unzip it, install it, then import it into WED. Once you use direct download, you’ll wonder how you lived without it.
- It prevents mistakes. We have seen airport submissions where a user clearly downloaded a scenery pack, imported only the apt.dat (but not the DSF files) and then uploaded it. We cannot take scenery packs like that, because they fundamentally remove the 3-d data from the airport. (A fundamental policy of the gateway is that if you upload a scenery pack and one already exists, yours can’t be worse than the existing one in some way. We have to always move forward.)
- It provides ancestry information. When you download and then upload directly from the Gateway in WED 1.4, WED provides the scenery pack ID of the original pack as the “parent” of the new pack. This means that when Julian goes to look at an upload, he can look at the “original” and more rapidly spot problems. If your pack is the same as the original except for taxi signs, he only needs to inspect taxi signs.
- It prevents data loss. DSF is a slightly lossy data format – that is, if you get your data back out of a DSF file, it won’t be exactly the same as what you put in. (It is like a JPEG image in that regard.)
More on that last point: DSF stands for Distribution Scenery Format – it was meant as a way to make final scenery packs; it was not meant as an interchange format for continuous editing. So users are constantly importing and exporting DSFs to do work, small rounding errors (“bit rot”) will creep into our 3-d, and features that were perfectly aligned might not be well aligned after 4 or 5 edits.
The internal format for scenery on the gateway is not binary DSF files, so doing round trips to the gateway has much less “bit rot” than importing scenery packs.
Finally, DSFs are tiles; if your airport spans a DSF boundary, all DSF features (polygons, fences, etc.) get split along the DSF boundaries.
So if you import a scenery pack that you downloaded, you’re getting the split version, which is harder to edit and work with.
The internal format of scenery packs on the gateway is not split, and thus you can edit the original in almost the same form as it was uploaded.
WorldEditor 1.4 beta should becoming in “weeks” (and hopefully not that many weeks); I’ll post here when we are ready for beta testers.