A week or two ago we had a very dead beta, and posed the question of how to incrementally test betas in the future. We got a variety of responses, ranging from “private test it first” to “roll it out in a wave” to “full speed ahead, we know betas are bumpy.”
Since then, we’ve been doing one of the easiest and probably most useful things we can: posting the betas early to third-party developers who are in our developer Slack channel.
Beta 7/8 had a ton of changes, and our third-party developers found multiple problems, some of which we wouldn’t see in our internal tests. So we held off on releasing betas 7 and 8 to the public while we fixed those issues. Until today.
There are a lot of changes in this one since it’s kind of 3-in-one. Please see the full release notes here.
Are We There Yet?
X-Plane 11.50 has been similar to X-Plane 11.20 (our VR) release and different from what we normally try to do, in that when we went beta (both private and public), the work for Vulkan wasn’t done yet. We had something that you could fly with, that was delightful for some users (and unstable for others), but we also had a big list of things we still needed to do.
So are we there yet?
Not quite, but we are getting close. Here’s some things that are done as of beta 9:
- Icon preview generation works in Vulkan/Metal.
- Dome warping for pro customers works in Vulkan/Metal.
- Plugin map drawing works in Vulkan/Metal.
- Plugins that create multiplayer aircraft can publish their aircraft to TCAS.
- Background processing is now optimized so we can run comfortably on a four-core machine.
- Texture paging has been tuned to avoid wasting VRAM in a number of places – this should hopefully help with blurry textures.
This list kills off most of the high profile scary things on our Trello board. Some of them are big topics, so I will dive into them in a separate post. Here are a few things that are still there:
- Shadows look jagged and do other silly things.
- Vulkan/Metal device picks the wrong device on multi-GPU setups.
We have code that is partly or fully done for both of those things.
So the good news is: when it comes to functionality we are almost there yet.
Crawl, Walk, Run
In a past post I set an order for fixing the trifecta of Vulkan pain:
- First fix crashes and stability
- Then fix VRAM use
- Then fix performance
The bad news is: we thought b9 was going to make a huge difference in stability for Vulkan and from our auto-crash reports, it appears it did not. So we are back to the mines on that one.
The good news is: we have already put in some improvements for VRAM use. We have identified others, but as of b9 things should be better. We do still have known issues we have to fix. Details on this in a future post.
For performance, same situation: we have already fixed some performance issues, and others we still know about. So we have made progress but we are not done yet.
Third Party Add-Ons
If you develop a third party add-on and it does not just work with X-Plane 11.50 and you do not know why, you will need to look at the situation ASAP. At this point we are done with modifications to third party APIs for Vulkan compatibility, and we believe anything you need to make your add-on work is already available. So if your add-on has a problem and you don’t know why, please contact us ASAP.
(This doesn’t mean all of your favorite add-ons will work or just be updated, it just means the developers should have something in progress.)