We have a lot of exciting news for XPlane2Blender users on three fronts: the Blender 2.49 Converter, Blender 2.8 support, and v3.5.1-beta.2!

Firstly I want to say a huge thank you to all the community for all your patience, advice, and support during this time of heavy development and slow releases. One of the biggest changes, I think, to XPlane2Blender in the last few months has actually been all of you! I’ve asked for advice and gotten constructive comments in droves, I’ve asked for projects and I’ve gotten example files to work with! I even asked for help with contributions to the project and gotten several pull requests to merge! Your passion for Blender and X-Plane inspires my passion for making the tools you want and need!

Now for the details!

The 2.49 Converter

The XPlane2Blender 2.49 converter has been in development for nearly a year, and the alpha is almost here. Some doubted if it was even possible to save these old projects, but the results speak for themselves. Observe these screenshots of Laminar Research’s KingAir C90B, F-4, and Boeing 737 that have been converted and exported with XPlane2Blender for 2.79!

KingAir C90B

KingAir C90B Cockpit Lit Up At Night
KingAir C90B Exterior, Showing Flaps Animating
KingAir C90B Interior Seating

McDonnell Douglas F-4

F-4 Cockpit Showing Panel Textures And Dials Rotated

Boeing 737

737 Main Gear, Beginning Retraction Animation

These are not proofs of concept, they actually work very well! Animations, manipulators, panel textures, meshes, lights, OBJ directives like shading, no shadow, DISABLE_DRAW, ATTR_light_level, and more, autodetecting textures, and preserving workflow features like picking the same OBJ file names and BULK export vs Regular export are all in the alpha. Basic scenery objects also convert, but some directives aren’t included yet.

We are not feature complete, and it will never be perfect: pre-conversion and post-conversion fixes will likely be necessary. However, spending only a day or two for the conversion is far better than redoing years of work!

Getting Your Old Projects Ready

The alpha is about two weeks away from release. In that time I HIGHLY recommend finding your old projects and doing the following

  1. Make backups of your files, because there is no return if you accidentally save over a 2.49 file after opening it in 2.79
  2. Ensure that ALL the OBJs in your project exports correctly with Blender 2.49b2 (the last version ever released) and our version of the 2.49 XPlane2Blender scripts.

    If you are able to do so and it can run in X-Plane 11.36, the converter has a very good chance of bringing it forward with few things to fix post conversion.

    The big thing I’ve noticed is that DataRefs usually need to be fixed as future versions of X-Plane added more that made unambiguous Datarefs ambiguous.

    I’ve noticed that some Blender 2.49 Datablocks have become “haunted” – where it crashes Blender 2.49 if clicked on or changed. I have no idea why or how. I can’t see a pattern or do anything about it, so take notes as these objects may need special attention post-conversion. If you have ideas, let me know!

    Also be on the look out for game properties with bad values, like an “litlevel” that is missing a dataref, or a “GLOBAL_tint” that doesn’t have two numbers separated by a space. X-Plane may fill in defaults, but the converter doesn’t. Don’t worry, the converter will help find some of these – as long as the property names are spelled correctly!
  3. If you are unable to run Blender 2.49, the converter may still work but you won’t get a chance to clean up the file and correct mistakes – it may require a lot more work post-conversion if you even get the chance. I highly recommend finding an old computer in the attic if needed.
  4. Most importantly, make sure you have the DataRefs.txt that 2.49 was or is using during export. Otherwise it may be impossible to correctly convert animations.

The cleaner the input file, the cleaner the conversion, the better the 2.79 file. That is why I’m releasing this guide before releasing the alpha – so that some of this work can be done beforehand and day 1 questions will be about the converter and not 2.49 problems.

One last note: Releasing our internal version of XPlane2Blender for 2.49 does not indicate support for it. It is merely there to help prepare your project for use with the converter. Remember, we’re trying to run away from 2.49 as fast as possible.

Blender 2.8 Support

A person recently e-mailed me: “Will Blender 2.8 have support before the New Year?” My answer: Yes! Yes it will! Don’t lose hope!

During the alpha cycle for the converter I will be finishing the alpha for Blender 2.8 as fast as possible. We’re very close – the UI is working and I’m about half way through figuring out which API calls need to be replaced and how.

XPlane2Blender’s UI and Custom Data in Blender 2.80

Before September is over you will start seeing more commits on the 399-blender-28-support branch. To keep up the hope, check out this screenshot of the BD-5J Microjet in XPlane2Blender in 2.8!

v3.5.1.beta.2 + Pull Requests

When I put out a desperate plea for some help developing the project I was gladly surprised by Kim Brandwijk, who has made several high quality pull requests that are small enough in scope to be added to v3.5.1.beta.2. I regret that I did not have time to merge them in a timely matter, but now with both alphas releasing soon all users can look forward to some excellent optimizations and speed increases soon. Hopefully the pull requests and community development can pickup some energy again.

I hope you all are as excited about this as I am! It has been a long summer of lots of coding, but I think people will be very happy with all the new features! Stay tuned for more news!

12 comments on “Status Update For XPlane2Blender!

  1. very nice to hear about the update. Just 2 or 3 years too late for some of us who used macs to make aircraft using Blender 2.49 which stopped working because of the python version used in the xplane2blender plugin (I seem to recall that was the problem – its so long ago now).
    Having struggled with AC3D and discovering there was no option to get my planes into Blender 2.79 I gave up.
    I will definitely be having a go at resuscitating a few planes with this new system. Thanks to everyone helping to get this working and usable (I hope).
    (ex my-plane.com)

    1. Yes. I’m hoping really hard that people who have Macs are going to be able to benefit from this. I hope the last time you saved your project it was in a working state. This is a special group of users I hope to hear a lot of feedback from.

      Honestly, I keep eyeing an old Windows 7 laptop I have in the closet just in case an update to Windows 10 kills Blender 2.49. I’ve avoided updating my graphics card drivers out of superstition. We’ll see. The icon I’ve chosen for the version history track is the Dynamite symbol for “2.49 is a ticking time-bomb”

  2. Nice to see my BD-5J blend file helping the 2.80 effort! I encourage other freeware authors to publish their blend files. If it’s free then you might as well release it and help others learn how to make aircraft and scenery objects for X-Plane.

    1. Yes! This would be so nice and helpful. Thank you so much, again. I know I’ve thanked you in another post or in the forums or whatever, but the BD-5J has been so extremely valuable to the development of XPlane2Blender. It has been a massively useful project – I just can’t even.

      If others aren’t quite sure how to release their work, look at this project and look up Creative Commons and GPL so you can feel confident you’ll always recieve credit for your work. If you are distributing the plane or scene for free, why not make the .blend free so others can learn?

      Read more about how licenses protect your work and let others use and remix your work more freely: //creativecommons.org/licenses/ and //choosealicense.com/

  3. great work, but I do have a rather important question, what kind of support will there be for people who Don’t use blender? are there plans to support 3 DS Max? What about AC 3D support? Not everyone uses blender. I myself prefer 3 DS Max. The blender interface is just to foreign when you spent years using a particular application.

    1. Good question! Right now Laminar Research is only interested in supporting its Blender addon. The AC3D addon (as part of XPTools, see //developer.x-plane.com/tools/ac3d-plugin/) gets worked on sometimes as Ben has time and need for it. It is open source, so, the community could take a more active role in developing and maintaining it, if they don’t already. I’m afraid I really don’t follow it. There are other exporters I know of for SketchUp and 3Ds Max of varying degrees of quality.

      x-plane.org (not affiliated officially by us) has a 3D Modeling board where you could find more support for your 3D editor and programmers willing to work on your plugin. I’m always happy to have more help making the OBJ spec better, so any exporter or importer developed will likely help with that front!

      Lastly, try Blender 2.80’s interface. It is better than 2.79. Maybe a switch wouldn’t be so bad with the new one. Good luck and tell me how it goes.

      1. As an historic AC3D customer, being frustrated by the lack of complex modeling tools and overall stability of the application, I was always tempted by Blender, but I was never really able to get it working due to the deepest learning curve ever experienced in a 3D application. Surprisingly, version 2.80 it’s another world, it’s an epic change of usability that allowed me to design the next project entirely with it! Waiting eagerly for the X-Plane plugin to work, thanks again everyone for the effort!

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